Vanderbilt addresses needs with class that lacks star power

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Vanderbilt's coach Derek Mason believes an Independence Bowl berth helped the Commodores build some recruiting momentum.

The Commodores unveiled a signing class Wednesday that lacks star power but addressed needs on both sides of the ball. Vanderbilt earned its first bowl berth in Mason's three-year tenure this past season.

Vanderbilt has the Southeastern Conference's lowest-rated class according to the 247Sports Composite.

''The way they recruit ... they're not recruiting the same guys the rest of the SEC is recruiting,'' said Barton Simmons, the director of scouting for 247Sports. ''I think they got players in this group who are really high-ceiling guys. ... There's a lot to hang your hat on if you're Vanderbilt.''

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Other things to know:

Top 25 Class: No.

Best in class: Vanderbilt didn't sign a single player rated as a four-star or five-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite, but the Commodores may have landed a quarterback of the future in Jacob Free of Brantley, Alabama. Free, who is 6-foot-4, threw for 2,712 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for nine more scores last fall at Brantley High School. The Commodores' highest-profile addition Wednesday wasn't a recruit at all. They also used this day to formally announce the arrival of Illinois transfer Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who rushed for 1,024 yards over the last two seasons.

Best of the rest: Simmons mentioned offensive lineman Jonathan Stewart and defensive lineman Stone Edwards as two signees with plenty of potential. Stewart, who is 6-8, has played only two years of football after originally concentrating on basketball. Simmons mentioned Edwards' impressive performance in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, a high school all-star game.

Late additions: Linebackers Michael Owusu and Brayden DeVault-Smith both selected Vanderbilt on Signing Day. DeVault-Smith is from Nashville, making him the only Tennessee high school player in Vanderbilt's class. Vaughn, the Illinois transfer, also is from Nashville.

One that got away: Defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa opted for Notre Dame over Vanderbilt but didn't announce his decision until Wednesday.

How they'll fit in: Vanderbilt has relied heavily on its defense the last couple of seasons, and this class should help the Commodores remain strong on that side of the ball. The class features five linebackers (Feleti Afemui, Colin Anderson, Dimitri Moore, DeVault-Smith and Owusu) as well as four defensive linemen (Jonah Buchanan, Dayo Odeyingbo, Jalen Pinkney and Edwards). Pinkney is the brother of Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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