Vanderbilt completed the coaching staff for Derek Mason and his second season on Monday with the addition of Cortez Hankton as wide receivers coach. The former NFL receiver comes to Vanderbilt from Dartmouth.
“Cortez is simply one of the brightest, most impressive young coaches in college football,” Mason said in a statement released by Vanderbilt Monday. “He is a tremendous addition to our coaching staff.”
For Mason, the addition of Hankton allows him to move forward into year two as a head coach with a staff he has full confidence can and will buy into his vision for the program, and thrive selling it on the recruiting trails and in practices.
“All these guys have one thing in common. They embody my vision for Vanderbilt football,” Mason told ESPN.com on Monday. “I can already see the changes paying dividends. It’s never easy when you make changes, but what you have to look at is the program and what it looks like moving forward. It didn’t look like good football last season.”
Vanderbilt recently hired former Wisconsin assistant Andy Ludwig to be the new offensive coordinator, and Mason stated he will be taking control of the defense in 2014.
Mason’s debut season as a head coach at Vanderbilt in 2014 was a rough experience, but not one that will break down the tough-minded and determined Mason. Vanderbilt was left with a bare cupboard after James Franklin bolted out of town to take the Penn State job a year ago.
It is far too early to suggest Mason is not cut out for the job of head coach, but year two at Vanderbilt will need to see some changes on the field. College football programs can have short leashes when things are not going well, and few jobs are guaranteed to be safe. Another rough season may not be the end of the line for Mason so quickly, but with Tennessee improving and Florida expected to rebound in the same division as a somewhat consistent Georgia and perhaps Missouri, the pressure to keep pace could continue in 2015.