Vols’ recruits from Georgia stunned by Kiffin news (updated)

Henry County wide receiver Markeith Ambles, here posing for his AJC Super 11 photo, said he would consider following Lane Kiffin to Southern Cal. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Henry County wide receiver Markeith Ambles, here posing for his AJC Super 11 photo, said he would consider following Lane Kiffin to Southern Cal. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

A.J. Johnson says he’s no longer committed to Tennessee. Markeith Ambles says he may follow its coaches to Southern Cal. And JaWuan James, well, he’s in limbo.

Those are three of the Atlanta area-prospects that bought Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s sales pitch and committed to the Vols over the past few months. But with Tuesday night’s stunning news that Kiffin is now leaving Rocky Top to return to Southern Cal, none of them are sure what they’re going to do.

“I just started getting texts from random people so I called Coach Brown [Tennessee receivers coach Kippy Brown to find out what was going on,” Ambles said. “I asked him if it was true. He said yes but everybody was about to go into a meeting and they’d call me. I don’t even know what to think. I just want to talk to Coach Kiffin.”

Reports citing anonymous sources began surfacing between 8 and 9 p.m. that the 34-year-old coach had accepted the job recently abandoned by Pete Carroll. The news has since been confirmed by both UT and USC and Kiffin held a brief impromptu press conference Tuesday night at the Vols’ football complex.

Reportedly assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator/D-line coach Ed Orgeron and Kiffin’s defensive coordinator/daddy Monte Kiffin will be joining him in Los Angeles.

Just this past season, right before and immediately after the Vols defeated Georgia 45-19 in Knoxville, Kiffin declared the state of Georgia a recruiting war zone for Tennessee. Since then the Vols landed six commitments from the state, including James, a four-star offensive lineman from North Gwinnett High who just enrolled at UT on Monday.

According to several published reports, there may be a reprieve for James and the nine other early enrollees. Though I have not verified this independently, it’s being reported that they may be granted a waiver by the NCAA as long as they did not attend any classes while in Knoxville. Spring semester classes were slated to begin on Wednesday. James did not returned phone messages or texts.

Also committed to UT for this year’s class are Southwest DeKalb cornerback Marques Dixon, Westlake linebacker Michael Taylor and LaGrange-Troup County defensive end J.C. Copeland.

A story on the Orlando Sentinel website, citing Taylor’s teammate Tony Jacob, reported that Taylor de-committed to Tennessee and immediately committed to Florida, where he visited this past weekend. But Taylor, responding only with a short text late Tuesday night, said “false statement.” There also was a tagline on the message that read “>change of heart<”.

Dixon, who just committed to Tennessee last week, says he’s sticking with the Vols.

“Yes, I am still going to Tennessee,” Dixon told the AJC’s Michael Carvell. “I am not going to make any decisions until I talk with Tennessee’s coaches and my high school coaches.”

But Dixon said he plans to take official visits to Southern Miss on Friday, Tennessee on Jan. 22 and Miami on Jan. 29.

It sounds like Copeland is leaning toward staying with the Vols as well.

“I didn’t commit to Tennessee because of the coach, I committed because of the school,” said Copeland, a longtime commitment who is scheduled to take an official visit this weekend. “But I probably was going to take a few visits anyway.”

Johnson, a star linebacker at Gainesville who is committed for the Vols’ class of 2011, was particularly taken aback. He heard about it when in the locker room after playing a basketball game Tuesday night.

“I kept hearing little and rumors and stuff about Coach Orgeron maybe going to Southern Cal. But I talked to him like a week or two ago and he said there wasn’t anything to it,” Johnson said. “So when I heard it tonight, I was like, ‘for real?’ I said, ‘oh well, I guess I’m de-committing then.’ I guess I’m open.”

Ambles, an AJC Super 11 wide receiver from Henry County, said he may decide to follow Kiffin to Southern Cal.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a possibility,” he said. “They were recruiting me. I don’t know. I’ve got to go talk to my dad.”

Dixon said he’d consider it but doesn’t know if it’d be a possibility. The Trojans have never contacted him.

“Believe it or not, Southern Cal was my dream school when I started high school,” Dixon said. “But it’s too far away from my family. Then again, I do have some relatives out there … I guess if Southern Cal offered me a visit, I’d take it.”

Brandon Willis of Duncan, S.C., famously re-committed to Tennessee on national TV this past Saturday and was scheduled to drive up to Knoxville on Tuesday night to begin classes. He didn’t make the trip and expressed anger to SI.com’s Andy Staples.

“They had the nerve to call me and ask me to come to Southern Cal,” Willis said.

267 comments Add your comment

CBB1

January 12th, 2010
10:11 pm

Rocky Top! Too dang bad. GO DAWGS!!!

fire lane kiffin

January 12th, 2010
10:11 pm

I TOLD YOU THAT LANE KIFFINS A CROOK. NOW DO U BELIEVE ME?

Reshad Jones

January 12th, 2010
10:12 pm

CBB1

January 12th, 2010
10:12 pm

Rocky Top, you’ll always be, the biggest joke to everyone.
GO DAWGS!!!

John H

January 12th, 2010
10:13 pm

fire lane kiffin

January 12th, 2010
10:13 pm

LANE KIFFIN IS NOT A MARK RICHT TYPE PERSON.. HE IS A FLUKE…..

John H

January 12th, 2010
10:14 pm

What a joke, I feel bad for the kids who bought into his nonsense… jilted them.

UT

January 12th, 2010
10:15 pm

WE DONT DESERVE ANY GA COMMITS… THEY DONT DESERVE OUR POLICE ACTIVITY….

kyle

January 12th, 2010
10:16 pm

Chip, does Jawuan James have to stay at UT now or can he still back out? He is supposed to start classes tomorrow…

Can we keep Mrs. Kiffin?

January 12th, 2010
10:16 pm

Buh Bye, brat boy. Get phony, lying, big mouth a$$ out of the SEC and leave your smoking hot wife behind. GO DAWGS!

AltamahaDawg

January 12th, 2010
10:18 pm

MattDawg

January 12th, 2010
10:19 pm

Kiffin has about as much class as the University of Tennessee… how fitting.

Clint

January 12th, 2010
10:19 pm

I know you are crushed by the news to Chip. Now you won’t get to write about Lame and is war on Georgia and his vow to never lose to them. I only hope the LA Times has a paperboy job open so you can follow him to LA.

Where have you gone Jim Bob Cooter ?

January 12th, 2010
10:20 pm

Without an immediate , BIG name hire , the Vols are headed for a disastrous signing day . Kiffin could not have timed his abrupt exit any worse. One year and done. Astonishing !

Sorry boys

January 12th, 2010
10:21 pm

But your boy coach is a bonafide first-class liar.

boots

January 12th, 2010
10:21 pm

These kids are getting the shaft from Kiffin. There should be exceptions to the rule about leaving schools after something like this. What a jerk.

Ja’Wuan James

January 12th, 2010
10:22 pm

Man, did I screw up. Guess I may leave after this semester and see what to do next.

rduck

January 12th, 2010
10:22 pm

I feel for the kids that got swiped up by this fly-by-night used car salesman. Hopefully this will be a lesson for these young men to look deeper into a program than a cheap blonde and a helo ride…

CBB1

January 12th, 2010
10:23 pm

Hey Clint,
Since you are such a big UT fan and a tool like your boy Kiffin, why don’t you follow him to LA and be his driver/bitch. We like Chip and want him to stay-he does an excellent job. This is UGA’s home state dumba#$, not Crappy Top. Karma is a $itch TN fans. I thought Kiffin was your saving grace. What loyalty!! At least we have a good Christian man in Richt. Enjoy your 3-9 season next year.

Kiffin's recruits

January 12th, 2010
10:24 pm

Kiffin was typical UT Vol. He lied, cried and ran!!!!

Those recruits should look elsewhere. There are plenty of programs with dignity and class. Tennessee was never one of them! That’s why they fired Phil and hired Lane!

DamntheButcher

January 12th, 2010
10:25 pm

LMAO at JaWuan James LMAO LMAO LMAO

rook76

January 12th, 2010
10:25 pm

USC will get what they deserve. Don’t you know the NCAA will be watching. Do you think he will try to draw “attention” to the Torjans like he did the Vols?

Clint

January 12th, 2010
10:27 pm

CBB1, I am a Georgia fan. I just got tried of reading all the Kiffin stories that the ajc did during the season. I’m stoked that I won’t have to see headlines about Lame and his vow anymore.

Dave W

January 12th, 2010
10:27 pm

A snake in the grass we didnt want him anyway. Lets push forward ,our boys deserve somebody better.

toccoa

January 12th, 2010
10:27 pm

this will be good for tenn in the long run.they were not going anywhere.cut will turn it around in a big way.

MarkTwain

January 12th, 2010
10:27 pm

This reminds me of that old movie Johnny Be Good. The suckers who chose the school for all the wrong reasons just got an instant dose of karma.

Clint

January 12th, 2010
10:27 pm

make that tired, not tried.

DamntheButcher

January 12th, 2010
10:28 pm

What about that machine that Lame was building at TN all you idiot koolaid drinking UT fans????

bwell

January 12th, 2010
10:29 pm

I feel bad for the recruits and kids in UT program, what a real jerk, to leave like this. Now I know why he’s a jerk (Kiffin) he was loud trying to get back to the west coast. Good and don’t come back to this side (south) ever. Go Dawgs!!!!!

To: Hilarious UT Hillbilly

January 12th, 2010
10:29 pm

this is hilarious…should take some of the heat off of Richt and sure would be funny if the fools in Knoxville went after Smart.

last time I was in Knoxville some idiot with a silly orange shirt on told me you can’t spell gonorrhea without UGA

spell this, moron…Karma is a B

GO DAWGS…get your man Richt, we have faith

Doggie

January 12th, 2010
10:30 pm

I am not even a UT fan, but Kiffin leaving this way is just dirty…plain ole dirty.

dawgjammin

January 12th, 2010
10:30 pm

what makes james be “stuck” does he count against 2009’s recruiting class for UT since he enrolled or can he dropp classes and leave school. in other words, did he sign a letter of intent for 2010 or did he sign for 2009 and count as recruit from last year.

if this poor kid is stuck in knoxville because that SOB kiffin.

USC just hired a guy who is 0-1 against UCLA, that has to sit well with trojans.

I bet UT has some NCAA sanctions come down from his 14 months in Knoxville.

What a shame….I’m glad to see him leave the SEC.

I hope they get matched up against an SEC team next year in a bowl and get throttled.

GO DAWGS.

DamntheButcher

January 12th, 2010
10:31 pm

I may feel sorry from a kid from TN but these border jumpers like JaWuan James got just what he deserves!!!! I hope Knoxville is a living hell for you the next 4 years.

orangej

January 12th, 2010
10:31 pm

From one school going on probation to another. We were stupid to hire him.

bigDawg14

January 12th, 2010
10:32 pm

the only way he could keep that promise about never losing to the dawgs was if he left now…go DAWGS!

tenn.DAWG

January 12th, 2010
10:32 pm

utk,just remember what goes around comes around,this proves it.

Big Bob

January 12th, 2010
10:32 pm

I said when Kiffin told his players they would never lose to Georgia as long as he was there that he must not plan on staying at Tennessee very long. Looks like I was right.

Big Bob

January 12th, 2010
10:33 pm

Tennessee, you got what you deserved by hiring an idiot like Lame Kiffin.

Chip Towers

January 12th, 2010
10:33 pm

I guess what Kiffin said about never losing to Georgia was true! Bet nobody expected it’d be like this.

BigCaliDawg

January 12th, 2010
10:35 pm

Interesting due to pending circumstances. Carroll bails on SC to avoid NCAA sanctions, yet…..the guy they just hired is leaving Tennessee for the same reasons. I don’t care if he did coach there for 6 years, he could have had Tennessee take over Florida’s place in the SEC heirarchy.

Say what you will about CMR, but he is a patient, fair, and honest man.

I’m glad he’s our coach

DamntheButcher

January 12th, 2010
10:36 pm

Chip…. Seriously,,, JaWuan James could not have signed a ship yet could he? Does he have to wait until Feb to do that? Could he leave school after this qtr/semi to go to another school without sitting out?

Clint

January 12th, 2010
10:38 pm

I read on Volquest that James has not attended a class yet so he is free to go, and has commited to UGA. That’s what their moderator said anyways.

Chip Towers

January 12th, 2010
10:38 pm

kyle, others: I honestly don’t know how the NCAA will handle a situation like this. I know the rules regarding a signed letter of intent stipulate that a prospective student-athlete signs with the institution and not the coach and therefore would be subject to transfer rules (ie: sitting out a year) if one leaves. But as a midyear enrollee I’m not even sure if JaWuan signed an LOI. He may just show up and enroll. . . . JJ hasn’t returned my calls or texts and I’m sure he’s really confused right about now. I’ll check with some compliance folks tomorrow.

Crimson Crush

January 12th, 2010
10:40 pm

People … People … People … don’t you know the entire SEC has just been “rescued” ? We all know that every Dawg , Bama fan , Gator and Tiger were all deathly afraid of what Kiffin was creating . At least that was the Vol story until 3 hours ago LOL

In all seriousness , I hope this doesn’t mean Tutorsee screws up and hires a real coach as his replacement .

The reaction of shock from all the VOl KoolAid drinkers on their websites is priceless but personally this Tide fan would have preferred to see the Boy Blunder stay in Knoxville long enough to drive them totally into the ground ;-)

utony16

January 12th, 2010
10:40 pm

Hey Kiffen don’t let the door hit you in the tail

Original Bulldawg

January 12th, 2010
10:41 pm

I heard this earlier this morning on the Colin cowherd show, and it made a lot of sense. I never thought it would happen. What a do%%che bag. Sorry Vol nation. It makes me feel better about our dc search, i guess it could be a lot worse.

Recruits and fanfare

January 12th, 2010
10:41 pm

See ya Lame Kitten, take your daddy and your weak act back west. I feel for the kids who believed his hype and are stuck.

Scottyfloze

January 12th, 2010
10:41 pm

Wow vol nation! At least it was a clean break.

DamntheButcher

January 12th, 2010
10:43 pm

Can someone give me a link to go see what all the TN idiots are saying.

kirby dumb

January 12th, 2010
10:45 pm

Thank God for Mark Richt. All you recruits pay attention. Richt is a fine person and a great coach. He is in it for the long haul. He is a God fearing man that has a big heart. Some people hate that about him, but thats why he is special. He will deliever a national championship and he will do with class. RECRUITS if you were in a foxhole who would you want with you? Lane Kiffin, Nick Saban, or Richt? Two of these guys are known to leave their men behind and the other one is Mark Richt. I will take Richt anyday.