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Vanderbilt football hooked two of the nation’s top prospects thanks, in part, to a fishing trip.

Allan Walters, the 11th-rated pro-style quarterback in the 247 Sports Composite rankings for the 2018 class, committed to the Commodores in December. And high school teammate Dan Dawkins, rated the top center in the country by Rivals, followed him with a Vanderbilt commitment in March.

They didn’t know each other until becoming new teammates at The Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J., last summer. Dawkins, an avid fisherman, noticed that Walters brought a fishing pole to the prep school campus when he transferred there.

“And I take fishing seriously,” Dawkins said. “I fish anywhere I can.”

So Dawkins asked Walters to go fishing. Before their first season together ever kicked off, they had fished several times along the Atlantic Coast.

The quarterback and center became close over the ensuing months. And when Walters chose Vanderbilt among numerous SEC schools, he leveraged that friendship to bring his fishing buddy to Nashville.

“Our friendship got built off those times when we’d go fishing, and that made us close. That’s important for a center and quarterback,” Walters said. “So I committed, and then when he got an offer from Vanderbilt, I was just constantly on him — like 24/7 — trying to get him to Nashville.”

Both players are highly touted recruits with several SEC options.

Walters, a 6-foot-1 four-star prospect, chose Vanderbilt over scholarship offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and others. Dawkins, a 6-3, 296-pounder, picked the Commodores over North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan and several others.

“I made my decision to commit to Vanderbilt for my reasons,” Dawkins said. “But obviously having (Walters) commit there made a big difference for me. He sold me on it.

“He’s definitely a good friend, and that friendship really became strong when we first started fishing last summer.”

With nearly 10 months remaining until signing day in February, Vanderbilt landed a major one-two punch for its 2018 class, which also includes a commitment from three-star athlete Miles Jones, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Both Walters and Dawkins said they will remain firm in their commitment to the Commodores. And Dawkins already has started scouting out fisheries in Middle Tennessee.

After all, he’s already an old pro fishing at Staten Island, Coney Island and Brooklyn. But it’s quite another task to hook a smallmouth bass at Center Hill Lake or Dale Hollow, crappie at Kentucky Lake, a catfish in the Cumberland River or just about any freshwater species on Percy Priest Lake and Old Hickory Lake.

“I have already done some research on the lakes and striped bass there,” Dawkins said. “I’m starting to look at their spawning seasons, and I’m researching the river.

“Catfish can be a big fish with a big fight. It all depends on the water they are coming from. But I’m looking forward to getting to Nashville and trying it out.”

Reach Adam Sparks at asparks@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter @AdamSparks.

VANDERBILT 2018 COMMITMENTS

Dan Dawkins (C, Peddie School, Hightstown, N.J.)

Allan Walters (QB, Peddie School, Hightstown, N.J.)

Miles Jones (ATH, American Heritage, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)