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Kiffin working overtime to build Vols’ recruiting class

Kiffin working overtime to build Vols’ recruiting class
Kiffin working overtime to build Vols' recruiting class | Lane Kiffin, Big Orange Report, Tennessee football, Vols, Knoxville, Tennessee recruiting, Vols recruiting
Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin is battling to fill out a recruiting class against very long odds.
Any time there is a late coaching change at a big time football school, recruiting gets tricky. Already at two other SEC schools — Auburn and Mississippi State  — there has been wholesale de-committing by several of their top prospects.
But thus far Kiffin, who has spent about as much time in an airplane as he has with his feet on the ground, has been able to hold together the big majority of the players that he wants to see at Tennessee come next August. He did send word to a pair of quarterbacks that he would honor their scholarship offers, but that he was afraid that they might not fit his offensive system. Both those players have since de-committed and are looking elsewhere. So is Kiffin, he apparently has his eye on a passer that might already be verbally committed to another school.
Right now, the player that everyone is watching closely is JeRon Stokes, a four-star receiver from Philadelphia, Pa., who has been pledged to Tennessee for several months. Stokes (6-0, 189, 4.5) may be wavering and is said to be planning a visit to Florida and perhaps one or two more schools. also lists massive offensive tackle Aubrey Phillips (6-4, 340) from Olive Branch, Miss., and corner back D.J. Hunter of Middletown, Ohio, as soft verbals to the Vols at the present time. The guess here is that both will stick with Tennessee come signing day.
Kiffin has been able to firm up some other recruits who were on the brink of re-opening their searches for a college destination.
Hard-hitting linebackers Jerrod Askew (6-0, 230, 4.6) from Chesapeake, Va., and Nigel Mitchell-Thornton (6-2, 215, 4.6) are good to go orange. Also expected to come aboard on signing day are bruising tailback Toney Williams (6-1, 230, 4.55) out of Alpharetta, Ga., and the nation’s No. 6 rated tailback, five-star recruit David Oku (5-10, 190, 4.5) who starred at Carl Albert High School in Oklahoma City this past season.
Much needed speed on offense should also be headed to Rocky Top next summer. All-purpose back Damien Thigpen (5-9, 175, 4.35) is sticking with his commitment to Tennessee.
The Volunteer offense has been short of big time playmakers for a while now, but Thigpen is a four-star jet that could help improve that situation dramatically as early as next fall.
Kiffin also needs to hold onto another rugged defender from south of the border. Linebacker/defensive end D.T. Shackleford (6-2, 240, 4.65), who hails from Decatur, Ala., was named the most valuable defensive player in last weekend’s Mississippi-Alabama all-star clash. A pair of good-looking defensive linemen is also expected to add their names to the Big Orange roster. Jonathan Hollins (6-3, 282, 4.95) is a solid commitment. Hollins is a four-star rated juco performer from College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Cal.
Marlon Walls (6-4, 270, 4.8) signed with UT last February but spent this season working on his academics while honing his football skills at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. Walls has resisted attempts by several other SEC schools to have him change his mind and take a look elsewhere.
Kiffin has already turned one in-state star that was not going to sign with the Big Orange and he is working on three or four others. Lockdown cornerback Eric Gordon, a two-way stand out on the 4A state champions from Hillsboro High School in Nashville, committed to Kiffin last week.
The determined Kiffin also has attempted to convince Henry County stars Marsalis Teague and Dominique Allen to cast their lot with Tennessee.
The No. 1 prospect in the state and top 100 national player Marlon Brown (6-5,205, 4.5) was most likely headed out of state before the coaching change. Now Brown will take his final recruiting visit to Knoxville on Feb. 2.
Teague, who has been leaning to Florida for months, may not know that if the Notre Dame job comes open next year, that the Gators Urban Meyer will be the No. 1 candidate for that position. Meyer is on record more than once that the Notre Dame position has always been his “dream job.”
Here’s hoping someone gets that word to Teague so that he might re-consider his destination.
Defensive coaches
It now appears that most of the defensive staff which Kiffin desires to bring to Knoxville must be employed in the National Football League at this time. It is a certainty that Kiffin’s father, Monte, is coming to Knoxville.
Rumors also persist that former Ole Miss head coach and ace recruiter Ed Orgeron has been offered a position on the new staff. In about two more weeks, this picture should become decidedly clearer.
And with Christmas just around the corner, recruiting will be toned down for several days. That is definitely a good thing; Lane Kiffin could probably use a little rest.
Coach Kiffin and his stunning bride, Layla, have their third child on the way and the family’s first boy is due before signing day. The Kiffins have two daughters.
Knoxville is certainly a wonderful place to raise a family!

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