Fence posts planted in state despite losing Brown

If you're keeping score, Tennessee went 5-for-6 on its home turf on National Signing Day.

The Vols signed five in-state prospects in their 2009 class, and swiped Henry County athlete Marsalis Teague from rival Florida. They withstood a late push from Auburn to sign Memphis linebacker Greg King.

Early in coach Lane Kiffin's tenure, he swung Nashville cornerback Eric Gordon, and a pair of longtime UT commitments - Rhea County offensive lineman Kevin Revis and Nashville wide receiver Zach Rogers - never wavered.

As far as fence-building goes, Wednesday's haul qualifies as a little more than just digging post holes.

UT's lone miss on an in-state prospect was wide receiver Marlon Brown, who opted for Georgia over Tennessee and Ohio State.

"The statement that I made was that we were going to put a fence around the state of Tennessee," Kiffin said, referring to comments he made during his introductory press conference two months ago. "Basically every kid that we offered that we continued to recruit in-state through this process we signed, except for Marlon."

Brown, one of the top receivers in the nation and the News Sentinel's top prospect in Tennessee, has the height and athleticism that Kiffin covets in a wideout. But his decision, unlike other Memphis prospects in the past, had little to do with geography.

"Marlon called last night and said that he loved it here, but his grandmother wouldn't let him come," Kiffin said. "I don't know what you do about that. Other than that, I thought that we did a great job in-state."

Teague, who swapped Tennessee for Florida on Wednesday as did Pahokee, Fla., receiver Nu'Keese Richardson, was one of the day's biggest surprises.

At least on the outside.

Teague said the Vols became the clear choice ahead of Florida and Alabama in the last few days. UT's new staff had a lot to do with that, he said.

"With all due respect to the last staff, if they were still there, I probably wouldn't be going to the University of Tennessee," Teague said. "The new staff came in with so much energy, it opened my eyes to a different part of Tennessee."

That energy is part of UT assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron's plan for landing prospects, much like the one he helped implement at Southern California.

"I think that Coach Kiffin has done a great job of hiring some guys that are high energy and some guys that are a little higher energy," Orgeron said.

That energy certainly helped sway King.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker was the first prospect Monte Kiffin visited after joining his son's staff as defensive coordinator. That initial visit helped land King in Knoxville - and showed Orgeron something about the elder Kiffin, too.

"We were there at 5:30 (a.m.) at Melrose High School. I couldn't get (Kiffin) out there until 11, because it's like walking into the building with Elvis," Orgeron said. "The reason Greg King is at Tennessee is because of Monte Kiffin."

Lane Kiffin made it clear that his first recruiting class as UT's coach isn't what he expects in the future.

"Understand this class is far below the standards that we have here and what will be here in the future," he said. "But with the time frame that we had, we're very excited about the way it ended up."

And much of that success, especially in-state, could rest in Memphis.

"We need to make it closer somehow, but I don't know how we're going to do that," Kiffin joked. "It's out there."

Kiffin, though, plans to counter distance with more of his recruiting coordinator's energy.

"We put Ed over there in Memphis," he said. "He's got experience there, and I know we're going to do a great job now that we have time to build relationships there.

"We've got to get those kids over to camp. We've got to get (coaches) speaking in clinics. We've got to make them feel part of us. It is over there, and there's somewhat of a feeling that it's not part of Tennessee. We've got to do our best to change that."

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Comments » 30

TommyJack writes:

On the right track.

chrisw2967 writes:

now we get to look forward to spring football and get this train rolling all the way through summer and then fall and before you know it , its Football time in Tennessee.

Chartervol writes:

Give Kiffin credit. He already senses that the West Tennessee bean field is a foreign land.

What to do about it? I don't know. There are pockets of orange over there in the northern parts -- Paris to Union City.

Memphis remains a mystery.

MrBamSeydu writes:

I'd sure like to take Marlon Brown's grandma out to a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

MrBamSeydu writes:

Oh and yes, this article perfectly sums up our signing day. Great haul for a staff that's had such an uphill battle. We're supposed to add Janzen Jackson tomorrow (per Chris Low of ESPN) and I'd say Oku will stick with us in a few weeks.

I can't wait to see who we sign in 2010!!! Jake Heaps is our #1 prospect!!!! We've already got a 5* DE to kick it off!!

utchris writes:

Kiffin is currently working to shore up this end of the state. Watch closely over the next couple of weeks for movement in the West.

All I can say for now.

Go4Two writes:

Fulmer was on ccbs an he said the Grandmother would make the decison.

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to Chartervol:

Give Kiffin credit. He already senses that the West Tennessee bean field is a foreign land.

What to do about it? I don't know. There are pockets of orange over there in the northern parts -- Paris to Union City.

Memphis remains a mystery.

Hey, there are plenty of Vol fans in Shelby County.
But you are right about the mystery. I'll be impressed if Kiffin ever gets a foothold here in Memphis.

smashmouth98 writes:

I think we still get 2 more, Jackson & Oku. It would be awesome to get Charles as well but we are DEEP at that position. We couldn't even get a fresh All American on the field!! haha
Can he slide to DE??

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to utchris:

Kiffin is currently working to shore up this end of the state. Watch closely over the next couple of weeks for movement in the West.

All I can say for now.

HAHA. Really.
You mean like Marlon admitting he was high during his signing and that he made the wrong choice. lol.
Seriously, don't know what you mean by "movement in the west".

ChattVol2485 writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

I'd sure like to take Marlon Brown's grandma out to a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

Duly noted.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

I'd sure like to take Marlon Brown's grandma out to a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

I hate that too, and it does hurt, and she wouldn't have been happier had her grandson came to Tennessee. Probably heard things like, "Knoxville is much more prejudiced than other places, and Atlanta, etc, Ga, is more laid back, and less hypocritical. Like it's all a social thing, you know, instead of football, relationships, and education. That's why everyone of us needs to get out there this year and promote our values and in essence feed our people what they want and need. I mean communicate, instead of letting people like John Adams, for one, instigate and educate, us on the values of life , and how we are to think and to feel about our passions!

firefulmer (Inactive) writes:

"Grandmother wouldn't let me come." Somebody needs to tell mamaw to remove her teet from Marlon's mouth.

andy112382#209793 writes:

Well, seeing how I was born in Memphis, I like hearing him say he needs to change the thought of some that Memphis isn't even part of the state. I love Memphis and have lots of family there, also lived in Nashville for 5 years, but have lived in Augusta, GA since 1989 and absolutely love east Tennessee as well, after all I bleed orange! But I guess since I have been out of the state so long, it just irks me when people in the east disown Memphis, and vice versa.........get in there and unite the place Kiffin!

GO VOLS!!!

utmdm writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

I hate that too, and it does hurt, and she wouldn't have been happier had her grandson came to Tennessee. Probably heard things like, "Knoxville is much more prejudiced than other places, and Atlanta, etc, Ga, is more laid back, and less hypocritical. Like it's all a social thing, you know, instead of football, relationships, and education. That's why everyone of us needs to get out there this year and promote our values and in essence feed our people what they want and need. I mean communicate, instead of letting people like John Adams, for one, instigate and educate, us on the values of life , and how we are to think and to feel about our passions!

Granny may have gotten a few of those negative conversations about the coaching staff that we heard about from other coaching staffs that she could not factor away from her thinking.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to chrisw2967:

now we get to look forward to spring football and get this train rolling all the way through summer and then fall and before you know it , its Football time in Tennessee.

Nope,not before I know it.

gnm53108 writes:

D@mn good class.

Welcome all and thanks for joinin the BIG ORANGE family.

txsvol#372416 writes:

in response to MrBamSeydu:

I'd sure like to take Marlon Brown's grandma out to a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: Not where she eats, but where she is eaten? SAVol

txsvol#372416 writes:

Or, as in the Godfather series, "She swims with the fishes." SAVol

hueypilot writes:

Alabama never had a problem recruiting in Memphis You just take a big bag of money, load it in the back of a new SUV and ask the kid's head coach where he wants it parked. You know, kinda like the same way the chiefs in Africa sold their tribesmen and women to the Dutch. Have never understood why the comparison to "selling" Albert Means to Alabama never was characterized that way, but can you imagine how it would have played if the coaches were white?

adamsck#591720 writes:

I like the way they are talking about Memphis. I posted earlier about how Kiffin's efforts in Memphis really highlight how Fulmer avoided Memphis. As long as we fly straight and narrow in that town its good for 3 or 4 3/4 stars a year. We shouldn't give up on it and it sounds like Kiffin won't.

Colliervol writes:

in response to memphis_vol_fan:

Hey, there are plenty of Vol fans in Shelby County.
But you are right about the mystery. I'll be impressed if Kiffin ever gets a foothold here in Memphis.

No big mystery to me. Just by its location, it is a melting pot of fans from UT, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miss. State and Alabama. Even the University of Memphis has a few fans too. If I'm not mistaken though, I think Shelby County has the largest UT alumni chapter in the state so, yes, there is some Orange down here for sure.

Colliervol writes:

in response to adamsck#591720:

I like the way they are talking about Memphis. I posted earlier about how Kiffin's efforts in Memphis really highlight how Fulmer avoided Memphis. As long as we fly straight and narrow in that town its good for 3 or 4 3/4 stars a year. We shouldn't give up on it and it sounds like Kiffin won't.

If we "avoided" Memphis in the past, how did we sign 5 of the top 6 in the county a few years back? (That was the Dan Williams-Mike Oher class with Oher being the only one we missed.) Granted, UT doesn't target many in Shelby County for a variety of reasons but we have gotten players that we wanted in the past. There just aren't that many down here that are targeted year-to-year.

One final note on Marlon Brown. Something a lot of folks didn't realize is that, evidently, he had struck up a friendship with Austin Long at Briarcrest who was a long time Georgia commitment. Just an opinion but I think that was definitely an influence on his decision. Water under the bridge though.

fatphilatemylunch writes:

Moment of honesty...as a Dawg fan I fully expected to read this site and hear you all wishing evil on Marlon Brown. Kudos to you all for class and sportsmanship. On other UT sites I saw where UT supporters were hoping that Eric Berry would Knock Brown out next year. I found that funny since Berry spurned his home state (GA) to go to UT. Anyway, you guys still had a great class with a 1st year coach. Looking forward as always to our meeting later this year.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to memphis_vol_fan:

Hey, there are plenty of Vol fans in Shelby County.
But you are right about the mystery. I'll be impressed if Kiffin ever gets a foothold here in Memphis.

Kiffin's not being from Tennessee clouds his ability to see how hard it will be to close down Memphis. East and West Tennessee are so different and so far apart. It's over 400 miles from Memphis to Knoxville. It's closer to Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, etc.. than UT and geography plays such an important role for so many of these kids, especially some of the disadvantaged ones whose families can't easily travel. I hope he can do it but simply making a few more visits with Orgeron and Thompson won't be enough. We'll see. Go Vols!!!

Volunatic writes:

in response to WeLoveTennesseeVols:

I hate that too, and it does hurt, and she wouldn't have been happier had her grandson came to Tennessee. Probably heard things like, "Knoxville is much more prejudiced than other places, and Atlanta, etc, Ga, is more laid back, and less hypocritical. Like it's all a social thing, you know, instead of football, relationships, and education. That's why everyone of us needs to get out there this year and promote our values and in essence feed our people what they want and need. I mean communicate, instead of letting people like John Adams, for one, instigate and educate, us on the values of life , and how we are to think and to feel about our passions!

Granny read all the anti-Kiffin posts by the irrationally-diehard Fulmer supporters and decided that she couldn't let her grandson go to a school where he might be influenced by such meatheads.

givehim6 writes:

This is only CLK & Comp. 1st year. We might end up with a pipeline to memphis, Kiffin will not have thouse mental walls to bring down to win, all he will see are W & L's. Did we not want new blood?

knoxnewsuser writes:

When Eric Berry hits Marlon Brown, Marlon's grandmother is going to feel it and wish that she let him come to UT.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Keep the open line to Grandma the 1st time Brown gets a slobberknocker.

Or coachy-wochy gets on this drama queen.

Good luck to this young man in every game but Oct 10.

LADAWG writes:

Yeah right. 5 for 6 what ever...dude you guys lost the #1 and #2 prospects in the state to Georgia....Go ahead and keep the other lower graded athletes.

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