JaWuan James returns to Tennessee as Vols assess damage

Big JaWuan James of North Gwinnett is back on Rocky Top after nearly a week of indecision. (Chip Towers)

Big JaWuan James of North Gwinnett is back on Rocky Top after nearly a week of indecision. (Chip Towers)

It will take a few years to assess the damage Lane Kiffin caused the Tennessee football program with this selfish antics. But the initial blast to recruiting seems to be over and certainly wasn’t as devastating as it could have been.

Heading into last week the Vols had 22 commitments and a No. 6 national ranking. As of Monday evening they had lost five commitments. And gone are some really good ones.

Ahmad Dixon of Waco, Texas, was a five-star safety, according to Scout.com. DE Delvin Jones, DT Calvin Smith, Atlanta LB Michael Taylor and DE Brandon Willis all drew four-star ratings. Those guys have either committed or enrolled somewhere else or plan to.

But thanks to the quick hiring of new coach Derek Dooley, UT has managed to talk some high-profile prospects off the ledge and gotten them to stick . . . for now at least.

Several major prospects have elected to stay on, including North Gwinnett offensive tackle JaWuan James. James left Knoxville last Thursday to return home to Suwanee to counsel with his family and gather his bearings. According to his high school coach, Bob Sphire, James returned to UT over the weekend and he began classes Monday (James has not answered multiple messages since last Wednesday).

Other Tennessee recruits of local interest:

  • Henry County wide receiver Markeith Ambles also has shut down. Currently he is listed as a “soft verbal” for Tennessee. Keith Ambles, his father, confirmed his son skipped an official visit to Knoxville this past weekend in order go to North Carolina instead. But Mr. Ambles said his son remains committed to the Vols and may visit Knoxville this weekend.
  • DT J.C. Copeland of Troup is also leaning toward sticking with Vols. “I’m still pretty set on Tennessee,” he told me Monday. “I’m going to take some more visits to explore my options. But I’m leaning toward sticking with Tennessee right now.” Copeland said he has a visit to South Carolina scheduled for Jan. 29. He said he spoke to Dooley briefly on the phone Sunday night.
  • CB Marcques Dixon, Southwest DeKalb, said he is “about 95 percent sure that UT is where I want to be.” But Dixon is also keeping his options open. He plans to visit Miami on Jan. 29.
  • Two other players that initially planned to leave — four-star DE Jacques Smith and JUCO DT John Brown (a former five-star prospect and Florida signee) — now say they’re going to stick it out.

Typically similar scenarios in which a coach bolts amid controversy in just a year or so, the football programs have been set back competitively for several years. In fact, the Wall Street Journal just did a story on that and did not paint a pretty picture. Here are some of the examples cited:

  • Steve Mariucci, California (1996) — 8-25 (.242) next three seasons.
  • Guy Morriss, Kentucky (2001-02) — 9-25 (.265) next three seasons.
  • Howard Schnellenberger, Oklahoma (1995) — 12-22 (.353) next three seasons.
  • Dennis Erickson, Washington State (1987-88) — 13-20 (.394) next three seasons.
  • Lou Holtz, Minnesota (1984-85) — 14-18-2 (.441) next three seasons.
  • Dennis Franchione, Alabama (2001-02) — 20-17 (.541) next three seasons.
  • David McWilliams, Texas Tech (1986) — 20-13-1 (.603) in next three seasons.

77 comments Add your comment


January 18th, 2010
11:35 pm

Nice story, good to see Dooley off on the right foot. How is UGA shaping up in recruiting?


January 18th, 2010
11:38 pm

JaWuan is a great kid, even if he is going to TN. From a dawg who knows him.


January 18th, 2010
11:40 pm

I am befuddled as to why James would choose Tenn over UGA and others. Tenn was a mess with Kiffin and is now in a tailspin without him.

He probably would’ve started at UGA within 1-2 years.


January 18th, 2010
11:40 pm


JuJuAN jAMES!! WoW! What more do u need. Good Luck!!


January 18th, 2010
11:41 pm

You’re not first, Dude. And you notice how I didn’t say first? It’s because saying “first” is STUPID.


January 18th, 2010
11:42 pm

Dang! Not First… Still Jujuan James What are you thinking Bro! Go to the GAWGIA BULLDOGZ

Hunker Down

January 18th, 2010
11:46 pm

I would feel my trust is broken if I am a recruit if I were buying into Kiffin as the reason i am going to UT. If I am sold on the program then maybe different. But this does not place UT in the kinda light they want to be seen.

A. True Georgian

January 19th, 2010
12:33 am

Any true Georgian would be ashamed to wear such a disgraceful color as orange. If he can stand the shame, he’ll probably be able to stand the pain.

Big D Dawg

January 19th, 2010
12:56 am

Next, Can’t be wrong! But just as dumb as FIRST!


January 19th, 2010
1:43 am

UT has gotten a great player in James. Wish he had stayed committed to the Tide….but best luck to him at UT.

Crimson Crush

January 19th, 2010
3:47 am

Like he had a choice lol … as far as “wishing he had stayed committed to the Tide’ there I am going to disagree with CrimsonTideBaby . He thought he was taking the easy way out and used a lame azz excuse to do it . Thank god it happened before he took up a spot a more determined player could use .

His spot was gone long ago and the one other O line spot left for this class is about to be filled as well . Frankly I’d rather have any of the three players in line to do it so JJ has been nothing but a footnote to me for months . The only time I’ll remember or care about James is when the Vuls throw him out in front of a Bama defense as a sled dummy LOL


January 19th, 2010
4:56 am

Saban visited the Ambles kid Monday night so may be he will visit the crimson tide and be the next Julio Jones!! JaWuan James made a bad decision in picking the vols over the dawgs after throwing
the crimson tide under the bus!! RTR

Why just one five star prospect

January 19th, 2010
5:10 am

Why does Georgia only have one five star prospect? Why so few really good four stars? I don’t understand why the Georgia program is seeing so many great and gifted players go to Alabama,
Florida and Tennessee. Are these players telling us something? You’ve got to have the horses if you’re going to be in the race. I think things have slipped in a lot of areas at Georgia and one of the main ones seems to be the intensity in recruiting. Four and five star prospects don’t always pan out but are indications of talent and special skills and abilities. CMR is going to have to have a renewal in recruiting and may have to change some of his methods. I know we’re in the top ten and we probably should be ok with that. But to continually see Florida load up, Bama restock and some of the best prospects in Georgia go to Tennessee just don’t sit well with me. We’ll be seeing them year after year after year. Does Georgia need a re-evaluation of its recruiting effort?

Gator in the Hootch

January 19th, 2010
6:34 am

I am glad John Brown has decided to stick with something. He certainly had a hard time sticking to the concept that college means going to classes and studying for them while at Florida.

It's Really Dumb

January 19th, 2010
6:37 am

Ambles the next Julio Jones????? What do you mean…he is going to be over hyped and not produce in big games? Because that is what the current Julio does.

[...] Dooley trying to hold UT signees [...]

Dawg stuck in Bham

January 19th, 2010
7:07 am

YES! Finally someone else speaks the truth about Julio Jones! Living over here, I keep saying HE’S OVERRATED! He’s the king of the 6 yard dump…”He’s double teamed”….yea and AJ Green isn’t?? Should change his name to Julioverrated Jones…


January 19th, 2010
7:25 am

I really wanted to see JaWaun come to UGA, I don’t know what the future holds for him and the Vols, but I believe UGA is primed for another run on UT and hopefully he will never know what it feels like to beat the Dawgs.



January 19th, 2010
7:25 am

Hey Lowndes Co…….the confederate flag has been saved. you can see one any time you want, they are called museums.


January 19th, 2010
7:29 am

I really don’t believe that Julio is overrated, but Alabama does need to focus on getting him the ball.


January 19th, 2010
7:34 am

If Kiffin is so bad for leaving his team with only four weeks left in the recruiting process; how is Dooley better since he left his team with only three weeks left? Is UT so much more important than LATech that their coach should not be allowed to leave? UT will be fine, they have always had very good recruit classes and still do this year. If they are mediocre like they have been the past 4 years, incl. LK era, then so be it.


January 19th, 2010
7:39 am

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling”!

Seriously “Why Just One 5-Star Prospect”, get a grip. If UGA got twelve 5-Star signees this class, you’d moan about the 13th guy who got away.

Assuming you’re a male, I’d suspect that you’re the guy whose wife buys him a new Vette, and you are convinced she’s just having an affair with the Chevy Salesman.

Get a grip, find a little self esteem, then get on here a discuss UGA football with the adults.


January 19th, 2010
7:42 am

What’s in a great coach,, just give me a good player and I’ll make him a great player. Individual football players don’t win championships, Teams Do!

Vick=Dog killing thug

January 19th, 2010
7:47 am

The poster at 7:38 making fun of Da’Rick is in poor taste and not reflective of any dawg fans I know.

I constantly make fun of silly GT but to ridicule a 18 year old kid?? That’s ugly…. Hope it gets deleted.

oh by the way.. 30-24 still loving that game… Dawgs on the rise ! Yah…

Gainesville D.A. is a Gator booster

January 19th, 2010
7:53 am

Another Gator got arrested. Pierre-Louis has five felonies to his name. I’m sure it will get thrown out when the District Attorney gets his hands on it. 251 driving citations and counting for Urban’s boys.


January 19th, 2010
8:40 am

stay in Tennessee..live there, breed there with the hillbillies and never come back to Georgia…


January 19th, 2010
8:42 am

Bruce Pearl realizes he needs him back on the team in order to have a chance to make the NCAAs. That’s all!


January 19th, 2010
8:43 am

Julio Jones is not overrated, but he has become more of a decoy because of what the opposition knows he CAN do. He is a member of a team with two terrific running backs (and has a ring, to boot!). If Bama can develop a QB who can throw the ball, you will see a lot more of JJ. Either way, you will see him on Sundays in the future.


January 19th, 2010
8:45 am


Juwan James and all the Tennessee recruits will be fine.

Tennessee is ……..Tennessee – and will survive the one year blip of Kiffin – just like Florida survived the 3 year blip of Ron Zook.

What do Zook and Kiffin have in common?
Both have winning records against UGA!!!

So the question is – what’s going on at UGA?
– Look at the defensive turmoil over the last 4 years
– Look at the failed expectations since 2006.
– Look at the blow out losses (even in good years – UGA gets blown out either by Tennessee or Florida ….. or both)
– since 2006 – UGA is 2-6 vs UT/FL – going 1-3 against each foe.
– since 2006 – UGA has yielded 286 combined points to TN/FL.

While it is fun to see the Kiffin experiment backfire on Tennessee – and claim that these recruits are making a mistake…..it ban easily be argued that Rennie Curran made a mistake to go to UGA – if compared solely against TN and FL.

So what does it all mean?????….Nothing – if a player is good enough to get an offer to Florida/Tennessee/UGA – pick a school that you like the best – make the most of it – get an education – and enter adulthood upon leaving college and be a contributing member of society.

Rolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Tide!!!


January 19th, 2010
8:49 am

Interesting post Bama Stan – point made

Ogeechee Dawg

January 19th, 2010
8:56 am

Bama Stan – thanks for reminding us our futile attempts to compete with Tennessee and Florida over the last 4 seasons. You made your point.

However, I would like to point out that during that span – GEORGIA finished #2 in the poles in 2007 – was preseason #1 in 2008 – and it’s worst season since 2000 is 8 wins.

Because of the struggles since 2006 – RICHT has made the necessary moves to upgrade the defense. Let’s hope that the new hires will pay dividends immediately – as in 2010!!!

As always Bama Stan – good post!


Gen Neyland

January 19th, 2010
9:03 am

Instead of second guessing his decision, JaWuan James may simply typify the Tennessee recruit that sees the forest thru the trees and follows his instincts, not the man that bolted. These are the guys with character and we are more than pleased to have them honor their commitment to the University of Tennessee. They are the foundation that brings a new day to Knoxville and to that extent, they will reap more than they sow. Shoot, just stand back and compare Orgeron’s departing antics to Dooley’s coming in. Maybe James did and likes what he sees…

Mr. Chomp!

January 19th, 2010
9:10 am

Tennessee’s headlines has diverted the coaching drama in Gainesville and Athens. I still view Tennessee as the bigger long term threat against Florida – not Georgia.

With that said – Florida is setup for another decade long dominance in the SEC EAst -just like the 90’s.

Nothing agianst Georgia – but their program is bigger in the eyes of their own fans than how the rest of the nation views them. Georgia will pull off a victory over Florida from time to time – but is not a big threat to Florida. Georgia is to Florida is what Kentucky is to Georgia. A game this will be entertaining – for a while at least – but a game that is all ready circled as a win…..and if Georgia does pull off a win – much like if Kentucky beats Georgia – it is considered a HUGE upset. The difference between Florida and Georgia is staggering.



January 19th, 2010
9:15 am

This is a good move for Juwan James and a good life lesson. Life throws you curveballs but he made his decision and he’s going to live through it. I think he will like playing for Derek Dooley and it may end up working out better for him than the false bill of goods Lane Kiffin sold him. It’s a good school and he will be part of a good football program.

Ogeechee Dawg

January 19th, 2010
9:16 am

Gen Neyland – well said – good post. I feel the same.

Question for you – any backlash toward your AD for making the decision to hire Kiffin and crew?

Dooley came in talking about the traditions – hard work, respect for his opponents – and what is Tennessee. Kiffin and Coach O installed the WildBoyz marketing gimmick – and left town after one season. IS the AD in trouble?

Dawg Fud

January 19th, 2010
9:35 am

Gen Neyland,

i totally agree that James likes what he sees in Dooley. i think Derek will do great things for Tennessee. he is good for UT and for the SEC.

Kiffin never showed Tennessee – school, program, student-athletes, alumni or students – any respect. good riddance.

best of luck to Derek.

Danny Forde

January 19th, 2010
9:35 am

Youngtr Stan, you still caint add up the right # of championships. I guess that you also forgot that while youree talking bout that Kiffy and zook men that Richt has a winnin record against my school bammer. You should work at PMSNBC or whatever thoz liberl ogerman and that linbacker maddow workat. Right now we are on the tip top of lookout mountain, but there are others slippin in. We r goin to losenext year a cople of times and when we do you and me will be saddr then heck, but yungster jest get yer fax right and quite blowin smoke at others tryin to run othrs dwn. Jest hope that when milesy go to Michegand that TT doesn’t go to LSU.

Dawg Fud

January 19th, 2010
9:35 am


please don’t get this blog in trouble with any recruiting violations.

Danny Forde

January 19th, 2010
9:41 am

Chompin yunstr, how many SEC tournametz did floriduh win in the last decade thet they dominated the SEC? I jest don’t recall a total dominations like whet yuer sayin. if youins want to talk trahs herz it is. lLuzing to the gatorz is like lloozing to Miss state, it happinz every 10-12 yerz for us Tiders, but you gatorz have some kind of unrelzistic opinion that you are champions, but yer not. Wate til that Tebow ministrie paying Garytor playersz gets expozed. Thn you will be bakc wher you youngstersz belong, Notics the differinz of how Saban handled his great players in trouble and Ubrn Crier hadled that Carltn Dunlzpa criminal


January 19th, 2010
9:44 am

I hope coach Dooley the best I have a feeling that 5 years from now we will be comparing it to the Mike Shula era at Bama.

Danny Forde

January 19th, 2010
9:45 am

Dagnabit Dawg Fud, you know wherez Charley, Jackie Bill and I all learnt that dont’ yuou youngsterz? My sourzes tell me that that tebone foundatiz tion has benn paying floriduz playrerz like spieker and harving and that ther cooper feller

Gen Neyland

January 19th, 2010
9:47 am

Ogeechee Dawg : Hamilton’s time as AD has been, well, interesting. I became a non-Hamilton fan after David Cutcliffe left Tennessee for the Duke Hcing job. To this day, I feel the hiring of Dave Clawson as OC was Hamilton’s to sign off on and not Fulmers. It seemed to me that Hamilton was setting CPF up for failure so as to remake the football program up in his image. I’m probably wrong, but that’s the way I saw it. It’s up to the BOT’s and the university president to decide Hammy’s fate..,


January 19th, 2010
9:49 am

So Rodney Garner is still telling recruits that he’s going to be coaching in Athens next season?



January 19th, 2010
9:58 am

I’m so glad these UGA english majors finally found a full time job.

Denver Dog

January 19th, 2010
10:34 am

KZ, you need to check your own grammar slick boy!


January 19th, 2010
10:36 am

Denver, you need a comma after “grammar”.


January 19th, 2010
10:37 am

James is coming to UT over UGA because he can start today as opposed to 1-2 years!

Alabamadawg, who's never gonna visit the Outback Resturant again !!

January 19th, 2010
10:37 am

Danny Forde- don’t be trashing Keith Olbermann…thats one of my favorite shows !!!


January 19th, 2010
10:45 am

If you haven’t heard this lampooning song about that sleaze bag Kiffin, I thought you would enjoy it. This is a gift from a Florida Gator—enjoy.

Listen to the new Lane Kiffin song about his departure to USC



January 19th, 2010
11:03 am

Calvin Smith & Markeith Ambles both leaning toward the TIDE. BAMA has wealth of defensive talent, both redshirt and 2010 class to replace defensive starters. James listened to the “spin” by Orgeron and Kiffin and lost a chance to play for championships. RTR