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Under-the-radar recruit: Vanderbilt Commodores

Derek Mason didn't land many blue-chip recruits, but he's excited by the athleticism of the new players he's brought to Vanderbilt. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Honestly, you could look at just about anyone in this class and think that he is an under-the-radar recruit. Compared to most of the other SEC classes, Vanderbilt's didn't exactly hit on a lot of what many consider blue-chip prospects.

Only defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo was listed as a four-star by ESPN's RecruitingNation. Now, coaches don't care about stars, but players get golden objects placed near their names because of scouting placed on top of more scouting. So there is some sort of rhyme and reason to this whole process.

With that said, Derek Mason is pretty excited about the makeup of this class, especially from an athletic standpoint. And one guy we could be talking about in a year or so is linebacker Brayden DeVault-Smith. He committed to the Commodores on national signing day while also considering Tennessee State. He was unranked by ESPN and a two-star at best by other recruiting services, but there are folks at Vandy who think a lot of people got it wrong with the 6-foot-3, 208-pound DeVault-Smith.

A two-year starter at Pearl-Cohn High in Nashville, Tennessee, DeVault-Smith racked up 155 total tackles as a senior, including 26 tackles for loss, and forced three fumbles. He also averaged 14 yards on 10 receptions as an H-back.

Not many staffs put a lot of stock in DeVault-Smith, but he's the kind of prospect who could develop into exactly the type of defender Mason covets. Certainly, DeVault-Smith could stand to add a lot of bulk, but he has the right frame to add some very good weight, and he's already a solid athlete overall. He's long and rangy, and was exceptional during his senior year, even if it didn't register on a broader scale with people. He was a very productive player throughout his high school career, but some around the Vandy program think he was lost in the shuffle because he wasn't an active camper before his senior season, hiding some of his skill from the masses.

People might question just how good the talent was that he faced week in and week out, but Vandy's coaching staff thinks it found a real sleeper in DeVault-Smith.