Salute to the Senior Class

Seniors leave their mark on and off the field

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With Vanderbilt Commencement ceremonies scheduled for this week, Vanderbilt football takes a moment to look back at some of the student-athletes in line to earn their degrees.

Vandy’s senior class was a part of two bowl games, 20 victories and three straight wins against rival Tennessee. It’s a group just as notable for its on-field achievements as it is for its off-the-field endeavors.

Here are some highlights of the Commodores part of the 2020 class:

  • Ke’Shawn Vaughn leaves the program as one of the more successful running backs in program history. Drafted 76th overall in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Vaughn finished with 2,272 career rushing yards (in just two seasons) and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. In 2018, Vaughn was a second team All-SEC selection and totaled a whopping 243 rushing yards against Baylor in the Texas Bowl.

  • Jared Pinkney, who has signed a free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons, left West End with 1,560 receiving yards – the most ever by a Vanderbilt tight end. Pinkney totaled 14 touchdown catches in 50 career appearances.

  • Kalija Lipscomb ended his Vandy career among the most productive receivers in team history. His 22 touchdown catches ranks second all-time among Vanderbilt receivers – two shy of the school record. With 198 career receptions, Lipscomb ranks fourth on the program’s all-time list in that category and is fifth with 2,356 career receiving yards. He signed a free agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

  • The 45th overall selection in 2019 NFL Draft, 2019-20 classmate Joejuan Williams returned to campus during the spring semester to complete his degree. The New England Patriots cornerback was a second team All-SEC selection in 2018 after making four interceptions and 61 total tackles.

  • Kicker Ryley Guay made nine of his 11 field goal attempts in 2019 and totaled 45 points. With plans to head to medical school, he finished his career a perfect 66-for-66 on PATs.

  • Quarterback Riley Neal and receiver-returner Justice Shelton-Mosley only spent one season on West End, but each left an impact and will represent the Star V at the next level. Neal signed a free agent deal with the Denver Broncos and Shelton-Mosley will be headed to Kansas City after signing with the Chiefs.
  • When Cody Markel’s classmate and close friend Turner Cockrell died Nov. 29 due to melanoma, the Vandy tight end set out to create an organization to honor Cockrell. Turner’s Heroes is a non-profit which strives to fund pediatric cancer grants and uplift the lives of young cancer patients by hosting in-hospital superhero parties.Markel teamed with Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason and Vanderbilt Athletics for an 82-hour fund for Turner’s Heroes. That effort raised more than $70,000 which eventually paid for two discovery grants focused on pediatric cancer research.

  • Linebacker Andre Mintze has been a driving force in the effort to grow Vanderbilt Athletics’ participation in the University’s Dance Marathon, an annual event raising funds and support for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. In 2018, Mintze created the Dancing Dores program to help get more student-athletes involved in the initiative. In the last two years, Dancing Dores – with Mintze coordinating the effort – has raised more than $40,000 for the children’s hospital.

  • Founded by quarterback Mo Hasan, Second Spoon is a non-profit that recycles surplus food from Vanderbilt’s athletic training table and other local outlets to those in need. The Second Spoon efforts from Hasan and numerous teammates have been widely publicized, including a national feature on NBC’s Today Show.

  • In all, 1,031 hours of community service hours were logged by the 2020 class, contributing to more than 5,000 hours with Vanderbilt football since stepping on campus.
  • Linebacker Caleb Peart, who finished with 59 tackles, was a CoSIDA All-District recipient, Arthur Ashe Jr. Scholar, 2020 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Award nominee and 2020 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship nominee.
  • Twenty student-athletes have earned their bachelor degrees: Gil Barksdale, Drew Birchmeier, Elijah Hamilton, Devin Cochran, Guay, Hasan, Kenny Hebert, Braden Kopp, Carlton Lorenz, Markel, Mintze, Peart, Pinkney, Austin Quillen, Josiah Sa’o, Cameron Tidd, Vaughn, Jamauri Wakefield, Deuce Wallace and Saige Young.
  • Four earned postgraduate degrees: Samuel Oran-Jones, Neal, Peart and Shelton-Mosley.
  • Eight of the graduating seniors are enrolled or planning to be in postgraduate studies this fall: Birchmeier, Barksdale, Guay, Hamilton, Hebert, Mintze, Tidd and Wakefield.