Tolk’s Breakdown: Defensive Backs & Safeties

Commodore Nation, the wait for college football has been excruciating in 2020. With the Commodores kicking off against Texas A&M in a few short weeks, I’m thrilled to finish The Dore Report’s preseason positional previews with defensive backs. I hope the “Tolk’s Breakdown” series will be a reliable reference for each position group and offer perspective into All-SEC stars and developing talent. Feel free to find the rest of these previews here. Anchor Down!

The DBs and safety groups are some of the deepest units on the roster in what should be a grueling SEC-only season. That experience should prove to be helpful as they help bright new talent adjust to defending talented offenses. Let’s learn more about who to watch for:

Frank Coppet #0: Commodore coaches and fans should be excited to watch Coppet this year. The senior will don #0 for the Commodores, as new rules allow for the number to be worn. Coach Derek Mason recently said of Coppet and his return from injury: 

“Frank Coppet’s the heart and soul of this defense. He’s been around here a long time. He’s had to overcome two ACL surgeries, but he’s the smartest guy on the field when you talk about being in games and having experience and coming from St. Thomas Aquinas, he’s always been a soldier. He truly understands the game. He’s a coach on the field, and I think his presence and his ability to communicate to our guys and get our guys to understand a sense of urgency, we’ve been together a long time so Frank sort of reminds me of really what I would want in a young coach except he can still play. The idea that he can hold guys accountable, he’s gonna tell guys what he sees and when you have that and it’s not always coming from a coach — when it’s player-led, it’s authentic, it’s real and guys gravitate toward it. So it’s fantastic to have Frank Coppet back.” (Vandy247)

The St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) product had 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, and 30 tackles (24 solo) in 2018 and will look to continue that production coupled with good health and solid leadership in 2020.

Donovan Kaufman #1: Commodore Nation was ecstatic when Donovan Kaufman, one of Louisiana’s most talented class of 2020 prospects, announced his loyalty to Vanderbilt, despite being courted by Ole Miss and Florida State late into the cycle. The 4* Top 200 Player nationally (Rivals) prospect brings plenty of swagger and confidence to the Commodores. At Archbishop Rummel, he won the 5A Division I State Title Game and MVP of the game with an incredible statline: 11 tackles, game-sealing interception, 95-yard kick return for touchdown, rushing score, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He expects to win at Vanderbilt and should see playing time in 2020.

Donovan Kaufman Radio Interview with Dr. SEC

Tae Daley #3: *Entered transfer portal as of Sep. 14th* Another anchor of the Commodore defensive back corps, Daley, a senior out of Warner Robbins, Ga., has seen lots of SEC football experience. In 9 games played in 2019, Daley posted 57 tackles (35 solo), three interceptions and one forced fumble, including two of those interceptions vs Florida. He’s played in 33 games for the black and gold and will look to have a productive senior year in 2020. If he does in fact transfer, the Dore Report wishes him the best of luck wherever he lands.

Tae Daley’s Second INT vs Florida (2019)

Randall Haynie #4: Haynie has made an impact on the field as a Commodore. The rising RS junior has played in 25 games as a Commodore, starting in the Commodore win over Northern Illinois in 2019. He had 18 tackles (12 solo), 3 PBUs, and a 47 yd touchdown INT vs LSU in 2019. Haynie’s experience will only help a very deep unit on the West End come Sep. 26th.

DC Williams #5: Williams has spent time at the University of Wisconsin and Independence (Kansas) Community College before finding a home with Vanderbilt in 2019. He dealt with some injuries, missing 4 games and only playing in 7 (starting 3). He’ll look to be more disruptive in 2020, as he recorded 13 tackles (4 solo) in 2019, looking for some PBUs and INTs. Commodore fans hope Williams steps into a larger role and stays healthy in 2020.

Gabe Jeudy-Lally #6: The rising academic sophomore saw action in 4 games in 2019, all against SEC competition. The former consensus 3* prospect will look to carve out a significant role in the Commodore defensive rotation in 2020.

Justin Harris #11: Similar to Jeudy-Lally, Harris saw action in 4 games in 2019 as a true freshman. The backup safety and special teams contributor will look to gain more experience and contribute in 2020.

Brendon Harris #13: The former 4* prospect from Chattanooga carved out a significant role with the Commodore defense in 2019 as a RS freshman. He played in 11 games, starting in 3, and was fourth on the team with 51 tackles and 32 solo stops. Harris will look to shine in 2020 and represent homegrown talent near the Vanderbilt campus. I’m excited to see his progress this season. 

Maxwell Worship #14: Worship has played in 21 games over the course of his 2 year Commodore career, tallying 21 tackles (12 solo). He’ll look to increase his production in 2020 and cause disruption in the passing game as a safety. He has also seen special teams reps over his career.

Elijah Hamilton #15: Hamilton has made significant progress each year he’s been on campus. The RS senior has been an integral player on special teams and as a reserve cornerback. The Roswell, Ga. native has played in 32 games at Vandy, amassing 14 tackles (10 solo) over his career. He’ll look to have a stellar year in his final year donning the Star-V.

BJ Anderson #16: Anderson had a breakout RS freshman year in 2019, playing in 12 games, starting 9 of those, and recording 25 tackles (19 solo) with 2 defended passes. With a year of experience in the SEC under his belt, Anderson will look to take next steps in 2020 and position himself as one of the next great Commodore defensive backs. The academic junior, RS sophomore, should have a good year in 2020 and will be looking to record (at minimum) a first career interception at Vandy this fall.

Tré Douglas III #20: *As of Sep. 15th, Douglas has entered the transfer portal* The rising junior from McDonough, Ga. will look to build off of his 11 games of experience from 2020, where he saw action as a reserve defensive back and special teams member. He had 2 tackles (1 solo) in 2019 and will look to find a more consistent role in the defensive rotation this fall.

Chase Lloyd #22: Lloyd comes to campus for his first year as a Commodore in 2020. The former 3* recruit from Atlanta, Ga. (Westlake High School) will look to adjust to the SEC and find a place in the rotation on defense and special teams. As a high school senior, he had 36 solo tackles, two interceptions and eight defensed passes while recording 47 receptions, 685 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on offense.

Jaylen Mahoney #23: The rising sophomore turned a lot of heads during the 2019 season. As a true freshman, Mahoney played in all 12 games recording a very productive stat line of 23 tackles (10 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception, one fumble recovery and two defended passes. Expect him to take big steps in 2020 and build off of a very successful freshman year on the West End.

Anfernee Orji #26: Anfernee played in 9 games as a true freshman in 2019. The brother of teammate Alston Orji (LB), Anfernee is an intriguing safety candidate who has been rumored to make some noise during the 2020 fall camp. Seeing action as a reserve safety and member of the special teams unit, Anfernee recorded 6 tackles (4 solo), 1 QB hurry and 1 defended pass in 2019. Hopefully he takes the next steps in 2020 and provides incredible depth in the rotation.

Ryan McCord #27: The true freshman out of Dallas, TX will look to provide depth and join the rotation in 2020. 

Allan George #28: The RS junior got engaged this offseason to Vanderbilt cheerleader Katlyn Richardson. Congrats to Allan from the Dore Report! Other than making big moves off of the field, George is primed for his best season yet in 2020. In 2019, he started 11 games (playing in all 12) and had 38 tackles (25 solo), 5.0 tackles for loss, one interception, one fumble recovery and five defended passes.  His INT came in the win over Mizzou and his fumble recovery was a 67-yard TD scoop and score. George will be an anchor of the Commodore defensive backs in 2020. 

Jack Barton #29: In what should be a wild 2020, Jack should provide depth as a true freshman LB/S prospect. He put up an impressive 131 tackles as a senior for Jesuit High School in Dallas, TX last year.

De’Rickey Wright #30: Wright was another huge signee from this past offseason for Derek Mason and staff. The former ESPN 4*, a top 400 national prospect (247Sports), chose the Commodores and, like Donovan Kaufman, will look to make a big impact during his true freshman season. 

Dashaun Jerkins #33: As a RS freshman, Jerkins started 9 games (playing 11) but was affected by injuries late into the year. He had a huge breakout season with 58 tackles (34 solo), two defended passes and one fumble recovery. Look for him to be a focal point of the Commodore defensive backs.

Camden Coleman #42: Coleman has a fascinating story as a walk-on at Vanderbilt. Last year was only his first year of organized football! Despite the lack of experience, Coleman would play in 9 games on special teams and as a reserve safety. He had 2 tackles (1 solo) in 2019.


The Commodore defensive backs have plenty of depth and experience and should be one of the team’s best units in 2020. Look for big seasons from Dashaun Jerkins, Frank Coppet, DC Williams, Allan George, Jaylen Mahoney, and BJ Anderson. Expect key contributions and more big plays from Donovan Kaufman, Anfernee Orji, De’Rickey Wright and Brendon Harris, among others. Let’s kickoff 2020!


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