NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt recently added a big piece to its 2019 signing class.
Quarterback Riley Neal, a graduate transfer from Ball State, is officially enrolled in classes at Vanderbilt and has joined the Commodores for offseason workouts. As a grad transfer, Neal will take part in spring practice with the Dores and is eligible to compete for Vanderbilt in 2019.
Neal arrives at Vanderbilt following a stellar undergraduate career at Ball State. The 6-5 Yorktown, Indiana native started 32 games for the Cardinals, completing 731-of-1,219 passes (60.0 percent) for 7,393 passing yards, 46 touchdowns and 8,756 total yards. Neal also made plays with his legs, amassing 1,363 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
Neal was also a two-time Academic All-MAC team recipient at Ball State.
Neal will be one of five scholarship quarterbacks competing during spring practice as Vanderbilt looks to replace the departed Kyle Shurmur, the program’s all-time leading passer. Neal will join juniors Mo Hasan and Deuce Wallace, redshirt freshman Allan Walters and early-enrollee freshman Jamil Muhammad.
Commodores trio returning for senior seasons
Vanderbilt received an offseason boost with the news that three impactful playmakers are returning to West End for their final seasons in black and gold.
Wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb, tight end Jared Pinkney and running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn have all decided to forgo early entry into the 2019 NFL Draft and return to Vanderbilt for their senior campaigns.
Lipscomb led all Vanderbilt receivers with 87 catches, 916 yards and nine receiving touchdowns in starting 12 games. His 87 catches are fifth all-time in Commodore history. The New Orleans native caught at least one touchdown pass in six games and authored a four-game midseason stretch with at least nine catches per game.
Pinkney started all 13 games in 2018 and finished second on the Commodores’ roster in catches (50), receiving yards (774) and receiving touchdowns (seven), all single-season career-highs. Pinkney recorded a season-high 111 receiving yards on five catches with a touchdown against Notre Dame on Sept. 15.
Vaughn put up one of the best seasons ever by a Vanderbilt running back. The Nashville native rushed 157 times for 1,244 yards — third-most among SEC players — and 12 touchdowns, leading the SEC with a 7.9 yards/rush average. Vaughn saved his best for last with a Vanderbilt bowl-record 243 rushing yards on 13 carries (18.7 average) and two touchdowns in the Texas Bowl against Baylor. The local Pearl Cohn High School product led the SEC with 10 rushes of 40 yards or more.
Ludwig departs for Utah
After four seasons in Nashville, Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has been hired as Utah’s offensive coordinator.
Ludwig, a native of Ogden, Utah, returns to the program with which he helped put together an unbeaten season in 2008. The Utes went 13-0 that season with Ludwig calling plays.
In 2018, Vanderbilt averaged 28.5 points/game, its fourth-highest scoring offense since World War II.