football

WR Rayford pledges to Vandy

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After Vanderbilt offered Memphis (Tenn.) Central receiver Latevius Rayford on Monday, he quickly came to the conclusion the Commodores were the program for him.
"I was locked in after that day," Rayford told Rivals.com. "I've been a fan of them since middle school. With Vanderbilt, I really liked the academics. That's what I'm going to school. I'm a student-athlete --- I'm a student first."
On Friday morning, the 6-feet, 173-pounder phoned Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and committed to the Commodores. Wanting badly to get every word right, Rayford actually wrote a speech that he read to Franklin.
In it, he said, "Coach Franklin, I'm calling because I want to be a part of the new VU. It has been a dream of mine a long time to go to Vanderbilt. This was an easy decision because Vanderbilt offers everything I'm looking for in academics and athletics."
According to Rayford, Franklin was excited about the news.
"I had a pretty good conversation with him," he said. "He was pretty hyped. He said, 'I need to get a copy of that [speech].' He was pretty happy. He said if other schools come in and try to offer to say my commitment is very strong, to let them know I'm committed."
Rayford said it is unlikely he will visit other schools.
"I think this is it for me," he said.
Rayford, who had more than 800 yards receiving last season and is a three-year starter, also had offers from Arizona State, Memphis, Purdue and Western Kentucky. Additionally, he has gained interest from Cincinnati and Mississippi State. In March, he was the wide receiver MVP at the Rivals.com/VTOSports Elite 100 Alabama Camp near Birmingham.
Rayford has visited Vanderbilt twice this year.
"I was there for junior day, when they played Kentucky in basketball," he said. "Then I was there later on. It was better and better every time."
Throughout the recruiting process, Rayford has communicated a lot with receivers coach Josh Gattis.
"He's a pretty nice guy," Rayford said. "I think we're both on the same page."
Next up for Rayford, he'd like to improve his ACT score.
"I got a 22, but I want it to be higher for me," Rayford said. "I feel like I can do better."
Keith Niebuhr can be reached at Keithrivals@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @KeithRIVALS.
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