Lane Kiffin is officially on the recruiting trail.
Tennessee’s next football coach was working the phones early talking to star prospect Jarvis Giles.
“He already called me this morning at 7 o'clock,” the 6-foot, 175-pound tailback from Gaither High School in Tampa, Fla., said Sunday afternoon. “He said ‘I sat down and watched a little bit of your film online. From what I’ve seen, you’re pretty impressive.’
“He said he was going to sit down and watch some more tonight and see how I can fit into this offense.”
Giles is one of the highest priorities on UT’s board. Once a UT commitment, the top 100 prospect nationally pulled his pledge shortly after Phillip Fulmer’s ouster was announced on Nov. 3.
Giles said the main reason he did so was because of his close relationship with UT running backs coach Stan Drayton, whom Giles assumed would also be let go by UT. Giles gave Drayton another ringing endorsement on Sunday.
“It would be even better if Drayton could keep his job,” Giles said of the chances he’ll pick UT again. “He (Kiffin) said ‘I’m going to evaluate Drayton today’. I pray to God that Drayton will keep his job and we’ll go from there.”
Giles now has another tie to UT in David Reaves, the former South Carolina recruiting coordinator who will join Kiffin’s staff today, according to multiple media reports.
“We’re close,” Giles said of his relationship with Reaves.
Giles said he’ll consider three or four schools before making his decision: UT, South Carolina, Nebraska and wherever Drayton is coaching.
Giles has taken official visits to South Carolina and Nebraska. Strangely enough, he got a glowing recommendation of Kiffin while checking out the Cornhuskers in Lincoln.
Nebraska linebacker Latravis Washington, whose cousin Fabian Washington played cornerback for the Oakland Raiders under Kiffin, had some insight for Giles on UT’s new coach.
“He (Latravis Washington) was telling me that Kiffin was a good guy and a lot of players were upset when they heard he was leaving (the Raiders),” Giles said.
Kiffin was fired Sept. 30 by the Raiders following a tumultuous marriage with owner Al Davis that resulted in a 5-15 record in less than two seasons.
Before that, Kiffin was the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator for Southern Cal. In his conversation with Giles this morning, Kiffin astutely pointed out that he coached Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush while at USC.
That made an impression.
“I like Reggie Bush a lot,” Giles said. “I used to idolize Reggie Bush. A lot of my shakes, I symbolize Reggie Bush. Him (Kiffin) coaching Reggie Bush is pretty astonishing.”
Giles doesn’t have long to make his decision. He’s planning on enrolling in college in January and said he has no leader among the schools he’s considering.
With all the coaching moves, Giles’ decision is tougher than ever.
“I like Reaves. I like Drayton,” Giles said. “But I really don’t know. I like Tennessee a lot. I like South Carolina a lot and I like Nebraska a lot.”