Two Florida prep football players recently gave verbal commitments to Vanderbilt, according to reports.
Running back Eric Samuels of Umatilla (Fla.) High and offensive lineman Justin Cabbagestalk of Armwood High in Seffner, Fla., plan to be part of VU’s signing class for 2009. The Commodores currently have three verbal commitments.
The 6-foot, 187-pound Samuels rushed for a team-high 962 yards last season while scoring 10 touchdowns. As a defensive back, he led the team with four interceptions.
Samuels hopes to remain at running back in college.
“Coach [Bobby] Johnson [Vanderbilt head coach] and I were talking and he asked me what position did I see myself at, and I told him running back,” Samuels told the Orlando Sentinel.
The newspaper reported that Vanderbilt first found out about Samuels through a recruiting tape he posted on an Internet Web site.
“It’s a really good school,” Samuels said. “I really wanted to go into my senior year without having to worry about where I would be going in college.”
VandySports.com reported that the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Cabbagestalk committed to Vanderbilt after making an unofficial visit to the school over the weekend.
He earned All-Hillsborough County honorable-mention Class 4A all-state honors last season for Armwood, which also featured Florida Matt Patchan on its offensive line. The Hawks finished 13-1 last season and reached the semifinals of the Class 4A playoffs.
Cabbagestalk chose the Commodores after receiving offers from Miami of Ohio, Ball State and Florida International. He was also receiving attention from Louisville, Central Florida, Wake Forest, South Florida and others.
“The ability to get such a great education and be able to play in the SEC were definitely things that stood out,” Cabbagestalk told the Tampa Tribune.
Cabbagestalk and Samuels join safety Jay Fullam of The McCallie School in Chattanooga as players currently committed for Vanderbilt’s signing class of 2009.
EX-'DORE PASSES AWAY: Boyce Smith, Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback from 1956-58, died at age 71 this week in his Nashville home after a long battle with cancer.
Several former Commodore teammates, including 1956 co-captain and All-SEC tackle Art Demmas, visited Smith in his final days.
“Boyce was just a great guy and wonderful friend. We loved him so much,” Demmas said. “I just saw him Sunday, and I walked out from his house with tears in my eyes. He was courageous to the end.”
Smith, named third-team All-SEC as a junior, finished his Vanderbilt career by completing 125 of 260 passes for 1,663 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also averaged 33 yards as the team’s three-year starting punter.
TRACK STAR: Vanderbilt football signee John Cole of Somerset, Ky., doubled as a track star this spring by winning the state Class A 100-meter title with a time of 11.30. He also placed third in the 200 meters.
Cole set Kentucky prep receiving records for single-season touchdowns (28), single-season yards (1,896), career touchdowns (69) and career yards (5,031). He is expected to push for playing time this fall as a true freshman.
KEY DATES: While several are already on campus, Vanderbilt’s incoming football freshmen are scheduled to report July 29. The first full team practice will be held July 31.
The annual “Dore Jam” football fan day is scheduled for Aug. 10, with times to be announced.
Vanderbilt opens the season Aug. 28 at Miami of Ohio.