Vanderbilt football faces coaching changes, recruiting challenges

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 6:53pm

For the second time in less than a week, Vanderbilt has lost an assistant coach.

On Monday night, Ole Miss announced the hiring of Wesley McGriff, who spent the past year mentoring Vanderbilt’s secondary and serving as the defensive recruiting coordinator. He guided a unit that gained a stingy reputation and contributed to the team’s 19 interceptions — tied for sixth most in the country.

At Ole Miss, under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze, McGriff will serve as the co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach.

Last week, the Commodores’ wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator Chris Beatty left for a similar job at Illinois.

Coincidentally, with the departure of their two recruiting coordinators, the Commodores have recently been on the losing end for a couple top high school prospects.

On Monday, Blackman running back I’Tavius Mathers recommitted to Ole Miss after looking into offers from several schools, including Vanderbilt.

Mathers, the Class AAA Mr. Football winner, told the Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro) that Vanderbilt coaches “weren’t being completely honest with me” in regards to playing time.

Mathers’ father, Ira, told the newspaper that his son wanted to attend Vanderbilt. But he said the coaches were “playing around with him on his playing time. They were not being honest with me in what they wanted to do.”

On Friday, Vanderbilt also lost out -- perhaps only temporarily -- on four-star wide receiver Andre McDonald. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder from Hopkins, Minn., told he decommitted from Vanderbilt after Beatty left.

“He was a huge part of why I wanted to be there,” McDonald said. “There is still a chance I may still go there, but it’s just tough because Coach Beatty was what got me to commit there.”

The Commodores did manage to snag away one top recruit in Maryville’s Patton Robinette. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback changed his mind late Saturday night and decommitted from North Carolina, choosing to attend Vanderbilt.

He was expected to mid-term enroll at Vanderbilt, which resumed classes on Monday. Robinette is expected to compete with rising senior Jordan Rodgers and Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels for playing time.

“I was going through orientation [at UNC] It didn't feel right for me,” Robinette said. “Everybody there is unbelievably great. They were all great to me. But my heart wasn't in it. I think I’ve known that for a while. I want to be at Vanderbilt.”

Of course, nothing is official until the recruits put ink to paper and sign national letters of intent. National signing day is Feb. 1. According to, the Commodores have 20 commitments.

4 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 1/11/12 at 8:28

18 year old recruits have and will always be fickle. There is a story here that will not be told about losing two assistant coaches for "lateral" moves.

By: damons on 1/11/12 at 9:43

This is old news. Vanderbilt has already filled the receivers coach position.

By: wiseguy on 1/11/12 at 10:38

Rasputin ... Lateral moves? Don't recall either of these departed coaches being co-defensive coordinators at VU.

By: sillyme on 1/12/12 at 2:10

If they can't go "all in" to Franklin's system then they don't belong there, period. It's the same anywhere they look to go regardless of who "recruits" them. So, if they bolt and run, that's a GOOD thing because they weren't committed to begin with and commitment is what makes a winning program. Maybe that will make just the little room Franklin needs to put more real winners on the squad and move football up to playing for some titles.

And for the other kid "re-committing" to ole mess after never "de-committing", what the hell are YOU thinking????? or is your "daddy" getting Cam $ "without your knowledge" ? You wanted Auburn and it's there but you say adios. Well, have yoself a great career at ole mess.