One more year.
Senior Louis Vecchio, a four-year defensive end for Penn football, has decided to continue his playing career for one more year at Vanderbilt. The two-time first team All-Ivy League selection from Orange, California has one season of NCAA eligibility remaining following his senior season at Penn.
Vecchio is eligible to play an additional season because of a knee injury he suffered his sophomore year which caused him to miss all but two games. However, Ivy League rules state that varsity athletes cannot compete after they have graduated.
Vecchio could have followed in the footsteps of players like current Princeton senior quarterback Chad Kanoff or 2016 Penn graduate and wide receiver Cam Countryman, who delayed their credits in a manner that allowed them to graduate a semester late and thus play final seasons with their original teams. But Vecchio will instead be graduating from Penn this May, meaning he will not be allowed to play Ivy League football next season.
The NCAA, on the other hand, permits players in Vecchio’s situation to play a fifth season. For this reason, Vecchio will be able to take the field immediately next season for Vanderbilt as a graduate transfer.
“Once it was known that I might not be able to stay [at Penn], [Vanderbilt] contacted me and got the ball moving from there,” Vecchio said. “I had a range of options to choose from and sort through, but Vanderbilt gave me the best place to work on my master’s and possibly continue my hopes for the NFL going forward.”
Vecchio will be seeking his Master of Science degree in marketing, with a special focus on data analytics. He will be able to receive this degree in just one year at Vanderbilt.
In his senior year with the Red and Blue, Vecchio totaled 36 tackles (8.5 for a loss), three sacks, and a forced fumble. Vecchio will hit the ground running this summer, as he will join the Vanderbilt team for camp starting June 1st, just a couple of weeks after his graduation from Penn.
And while the Ivy League has no shortage of talent at the offensive and defensive line, the SEC is a whole different beast.
“That’s the lineman conference, for sure,” Vecchio said. “I’ve trained with a few of the guys [on Vanderbilt] in California. I’m just really excited. I’m excited to see the differences [between the conferences] first-hand. I’m sure there are some, but I’m not really expecting too big of a difference.”
Although Vecchio will be suited up in a new uniform next year, he will never lose the connections that he’s built at Penn, and he is not taking his four years playing for the Quakers for granted.
“I’m very thankful to Penn itself for all of the opportunities that this institution has laid out for me, as well as the coaches and the players,” Vecchio said. “This is still my family. I wanted to make sure that, at the end of the day, I’m graduating from Penn; that was my biggest thing. At the end of the day, I’ll still bleed the Red and Blue.”
Already a two-time Ivy League champion, Vecchio now has the opportunity to make his mark on a Vanderbilt program that is trying to climb its way up the SEC ranks. Vecchio and the Commodores will open the 2018 season with a home game against Middle Tennessee State on September 1st.
This story was updated on Monday, February 26 with quotes from Louis Vecchio.