Sakamoto: Khari Vanderbilt Looks To Impress At 49ers Local Pro Day

Passion. Dedication. Persistance. Those are three words to describe NFL hopeful and Cal standout S Khari Vanderbilt. A local product, as Vanderbilt played high school football at Independence High School in east side San Jose, his rise to stardom has been nothing short of an inspiration.

The story I’m about to tell you, speaks volumes about who Khari is, as a man. 

How would you feel, if you found out your father was murdered just days before Thanksgiving? To make matters worse, what if I told you for the first and only time you ever saw your biological father was in a casket? That’s exactly what Vanderbilt had to endure. The pain, heartache, and suffering that Vanderbilt felt was an experience, I can only imagine. 

But that didn’t stop Vanderbilt from maintaining a positive outlook on life. A task easier said than done, as many people could’ve easily felt sorry for themselves, Vanderbilt instead embraced the shameful tragedy and took the positives out of a negative situation. A true testament to his character. 

Not to mention, Vanderbilt opted to stay rooted in the Bay Area after high school playing for San Jose City College (JUCO) to care for his ill-mother Ayanna–who was dealing with blood clots in her lungs, the selfless act, spoke volumes about who Vanderbilt was truly all about. A family first person. 

Fast forward to today and Vanderbilt finds himself in unchartered territory, trying to impress NFL scouts in hopes of making an NFL roster. 

At Cal’s Pro Day earlier last month, Vanderbilt made noise displaying his athleticism with a 4.51 40-time, 37-inch vertical, and 126-inch broad jump. At 6-1, 194, Vanderbilt has the ideal combination of height, weight, speed, that scouts covet in a defensive back. 

He’s an aggressive and willing tackler, who doesn’t have a preference on playing either safety spots on the backend of a defense.

“I love to hit, but I’ll play wherever the coaching staff needs me to play and help them win. I want to play both [strong safety and free safety]. I like playing deep middle but I also like being able to roll down into the box as well. I just love football.” 

NFL teams have already started to take notice including the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Chargers. 

Vanderbilt was by far the alpha dog in the Golden Bears secondary last year, leading the secondary in tackles, while also being the team’s most consistent player on the backend of the defense. He will be attending both local Pro Days this week starting with the 49ers tomorrow and Raiders the following day. 

We will keep you updated on Vanderbilt’s progress, so stay tuned for videos, interviews, and updates on this local Bay Area product, as every Forever Faithful should be rooting for this kid– including me. 

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.