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SEC Media Days And the Vanderbilt Commodores

As the 2023 SEC Media Days for football kicked off, I wanted to take some time and provide some information on the players that Head Coach Clark Lea took across town to the Nashville Grand Hyatt. Those players include LB Ethan Barr, S Jaylen Mahoney, and WR Will Sheppard.

I will also provide some thoughts on what we heard from Coach Lea himself.

Ethan Barr is a 4th-year senior for the Black and Gold. The Flower Mound, Texas native has been a stalwart for the Commodores’ defense in each of his first three seasons. The former 3-star recruit was named a team captain in 2022 and has played in every game in which he has donned a Vanderbilt uniform while registering 164 career tackles.

While majoring in human and organizational development, Barr operates his own lawn service business and has four siblings.

Traversing to West End via South Point High School in Rock Hill, SC, Jaylen Mahoney is entering his 5th season as a Vanderbilt safety. Elected as a team captain in 2022, Mahoney has appeared in 43 games while registering 188 career tackles along with four interceptions.

The son of Ronald and Kim Mahoney, Jaylen has two brothers and four sisters (6 total siblings). Also majoring in human and organizational development, Mahoney is a member of the National Honor Society.

The star of the three-player contingent is WR Will Sheppard, a 2022 Second Team All-SEC member (AP) that finished the year as a top 10 WR in every statistical receiving category in the SEC.

Appearing in 31 games over his Commodore career, Sheppard has scored 13 career touchdowns, including 9 in 2022, good for 2nd in the SEC for that season. With 1266 career receiving yards, Sheppard has caught passes from three different QBs as a Commodore. Majoring in Medicine, Health, and Sciences in the College of Arts and Science, both of Will’s parents were athletes at Louisiana Tech.

Here are some bullet points I was very pleased with as Head Coach Clark Lea and the aforementioned players discussed during their time with the media.

-“Though we can celebrate progress, we will never be satisfied with 5-7. Vanderbilt football pursues success at the highest level, and we will not back down from our mission to build the best college football program in the nation.” Head Coach Clark Lea -“We believe in Coach Lea’s mission. We love that guy and want to play for him. We take his message and communicate it through the locker room because we WANT to win and change the narrative that surrounds Vanderbilt.” Jaylen Mahoney, DB, Vanderbilt University -“We have covenants in our program. There are five of those. The first one is true brotherhood. There is no brotherhood that I know that starts with a level of abuse in the locker room.” Head coach Clark Lea, when asked about the situation at Northwestern University.

-On Monday, Vanderbilt University announced a contract extension for Head Coach Clark Lea through the 2029 season.

-“Everyone has bought into this program and that has not always been that way in the past.” Ethan Barr, LB, Vanderbilt University.

-“When the jackhammer was going off right outside of my office, it wasn’t always convenient, but, by God, it was progress.” Head Coach Clark Lea discussing facilities upgrades

In closing, I share this sentiment. As of right now, at this moment, Vanderbilt University may not be the “best program in college football,” but that transformation is well underway. The revolution is happening whether the powers that be in today’s college football world like it or not. Go ahead and jump on that bandwagon now, in the early stages, so you can enjoy the entire ride to the top!!


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