HOOVER — Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason has won six regular season games twice in the past three seasons.
During that stretch, the Commodores have also played in two bowl games but maybe even more importantly to the fans is that Vanderbilt has defeated arch rival Tennessee three straight seasons.
“For us, man, it simply means that we’re relevant, okay, in the SEC East conversation,” Mason said Thursday morning at SEC Media Days. “I think for us, time and time again, it’s been about trying to make sure that we could keep up with that program, you know, up the road, but there’s a big — there’s a big, you know, combat zone going on on the SEC East side of the conference, and right now, you know, looking at Tennessee, where they’re at, Jeremy Pruitt’s done a good job, but for us, we’ve got to continue to make sure that we just don’t focus on Tennessee, we focus on winning games in our conference.”
If Vanderbilt is going to win games in 2019 then the Commodores will be featuring plenty of star running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn — the Illinois transfer who rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns last season at Vandy.
“Well, the biggest thing that you see about Ke’Shawn is that when he touches the ball, he’s hard to tackle,” Mason said. “I mean, the young man’s dynamic. If you ask me how fast he runs, I don’t know. 4.36? 4.39? At 220 pounds, I mean, he’s fast, I mean, faster than any running back that I’ve seen since I’ve been there.”
Mason further elaborated about his star back.
“When you look at his ability to go zero to 60, I’ve seen him reverse field,” Mason said. “I’ve seen him cut back across the grain and outrun angles. How often do you see that? He can make a guy missing the hole. He can run over you. He can run around you. He’s got really good hands. He’s patient, and I think he’s gotten even better under Tim Horton and understanding how to play without the football.”
After opening up the season at home against Georgia, Vanderbilt will then welcome LSU to Nashville in the Tigers’ SEC opener.
So does that mean that the Vandy whistler, who funded with LSU fans at the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover earlier this year, will be around to welcome the Tigers to Nashville.
“The Vandy whistler is everywhere,” Mason said. “Sometimes I think I hear him outside my window. I mean, that’s — that’s one thing about the Vandy whistler, you can count on him being consistent. So expect to see him at bowl games, expect to hear him. I know he’s annoying to y’all, but to us, in Vanderbilt there on West End, he’s the man.”