Johnathon McCrary sees plenty of potential in Vanderbilt’s football program.
That’s why the quarterback from Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Ga., committed to Vanderbilt on Thursday over offers from such schools as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State and Ohio State.
McCrary, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 80 prospect by Rivals.com, said he noticed the success of first-year head coach James Franklin in 2011 and the way prospects responded in the 2012 class.
McCrary said he believes he can help elevate Vanderbilt’s program to a higher level.
“It feels like it needs someone just to put it on blast and I think I can help,” McCrary said. “I can at least try. That’s a place where you want to start a legacy so when you come back to Nashville you’re legendary. And having Nashville on my back, I think I could change history to my name.”
McCrary will try to bring more talented names with him to Vanderbilt. The first prospect he mentioned was Loganville, Ga., defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who’s considered by many to be the nation’s top prospect for the 2013 class.
“He said he’s actually interested in Vanderbilt,” McCrary said of Nkemdiche. “That says a lot about his character.”
Of course, every program in the nation is interested Nkemdiche. A signature from him would appear to be a longshot for Vanderbilt. But McCrary believes there are other top prospects in the 2013 class with an interest in the Commodores.
“I have a lot of other athletes in the class of 2013 that look up to me and I look up to them,” McCrary said. “And if I go to Vanderbilt then there’s going to be a lot more recruits come in later on in the year.”
There’s still a question whether McCrary will sign with Vanderbilt. He said he plans to visit other schools, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA.
McCrary said it was the advice of his father to make sure he explores all of his options.
“You can’t just sit in one direction and say you can’t go in the other direction,” McCrary said. “Because if you do that, then you’re not going to be successful.”
Still, McCrary insisted he’s “very committed” to Vanderbilt. He’s taking an unofficial visit to the school’s campus this weekend.
“There’s no better place than Nashville,” McCrary said. “Vanderbilt’s a great place to me.”