Kiffin sets the foundation; up and down signing day for Vols

Signing Day splash.

Signing Day splash.

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UT football head coach, Lane Kiffin, speaks with the press regarding college signing day.

UT football head coach, Lane Kiffin, speaks with the press regarding college signing day. Watch »

Melrose High School linebacker Greg King (center) signed with the University of Tennessee on Wednesday, Feb. 4. He is pictured with his family.

Photo by Tom McDaniel Jr./The Commercial Appea

Melrose High School linebacker Greg King (center) signed with the University of Tennessee on Wednesday, Feb. 4. He is pictured with his family.

A rocky start to National Signing Day 2009 didn’t define the day for those on Rocky Top.

Tennessee picked up highly rated defensive backs Darren Myles Jr. and Marsalous Teague and South Florida speedster Nu’Keese Richardson to cap a hectic day of highs and lows Wednesday. In the end, UT finished with a signing class of 19.

"I thought it was very important for us to set the foundation from which we were going to compete in recruiting," said new UT coach Lane Kiffin in addressing the media Wednesday. "We have already started junior recruiting and our goal is to have one of the top classes in the nation next year."

The lows took the early lead before national letters of intent could even be signed. News broke early that tailback David Oku from Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, Okla., was no longer committed to Tennessee.

Hours later, offensive lineman Aubrey Phillips of Olive Branch (Miss.) High confirmed he wasn’t living up to his commitment and signed with Florida State.

UT also missed out on one of the long shots on its board when receiver Alshon Jeffrey from Calhoun County High in St. Matthews, S.C., signed with South Carolina. A one-time Southern California commitment, Jeffrey took an official visit to Knoxville in January.

Despite the bad news, UT laid a solid foundation for the day as the sun was still rising in East Tennessee. The Vols received early morning signatures from the following:

+ OL JerQuari Schofield from South Aiken (S.C.) High.

+ C Kevin Revis from Rhea County.

+ DB Nyshier Oliver from Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J.

+ LB Nigel Mitchell-Thornton from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga.

+ DT Arthur Jeffrey from Booker High in Sarasota, Fla.

+ LB Jerod Askew from Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake, Va.

As noon drew near, UT landed a delayed signature from commitment Mike Edwards, the defensive back from Glenville Academic Campus in Cleveland, Ohio. Edwards was scheduled to sign his letter of intent earlier in the day but was caught up in a snowstorm on the way to school.

In the meantime, UT secured the signature of receiver James Green from Leon High in Tallahassee, Fla.

UT received a bit of bad news, albeit expected, when receiver Patrick Patterson from Noxubee County High School in Macon, Miss., signed with Ole Miss and defensive tackle Pearlie Graves from East Central High School in Tulsa, Okla., signed with Texas Tech.

Both took official visits to UT in January but neither were considered to be leaning towards signing with UT.

Then came the first positive surprise of the day when Myles signed with UT. The standout from Carver High in Atlanta signed with UT over Alabama and LSU among others.

Myles, one of the top safeties in the nation and one of the prospects in the southeast, was the first prospect that UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin called when he was hired at UT.

Two UT long shots went by the boards when linebacker Tana Patrick signed with Alabama and tailback Kendrick Hardy signed with Southern Miss before noon.

Patrick, a linebacker from North Jackson High in Stevenson, Ala., was a surprise visitor to UT in January. Hardy considered UT but it is unclear just how much UT coveted him.

Then game a double shot of positive, in-state news just before noon when linebacker Greg King from Memphis Melrose and athlete Marsalis Teague from Henry County signed with UT.

Neither announcement was too surprising. King raved about his January official visit to Knoxville and seemed solid to UT despite a late run by Auburn.

The News Sentinel reported last month that Teague was leaning towards UT or Alabama despite a long-standing commitment to Florida. Distance from home was Teague’s main concern, a source said.

The Vols received a boost to their 2010 class when news broke that junior defensive end Jacques Smith committed to UT. The Ooltewah star is likely the top prospect in the state and is expected to be one of the elite prospects in the nation.

The 2009 class again took center stage when UT secured Eric Gordon’s signature during the lunch hour. The cornerback from Hillsboro High School was the first commitment under coach Lane Kiffin, who was hired in late November.

The Vols missed out on a long shot shortly thereafter when tailback Eddie Lacy from Dutchtown High School in Geismar, La., signed with Alabama.

Another Alabama signing opened the door for linebacker Robert Nelson from Stone Mountain, Ga. When Patrick signed with the Crimson Tide, that meant UT had room to take another linebacker, and did so with Nelson.

The ultimate surprise of the day for UT came when Richardson put his name on UT’s dotted line. The receiver from Pahokee, Fla., wasn’t even sure he’d take an official visit to UT before finally doing so last weekend. Richardson had been committed to Florida since October.

The news was more predictable when receiver Kendall Kelly from Gadsden (Ala.) City High chose Alabama over UT.

Then came the news that so many UT fans had been waiting for – and subsequently dreaded.

Receiver Marlon Brown from Harding Academy in Memphis chose Georgia over UT just before 4 p.m.

It got worse when another receiver, Je’Ron Stokes, signed with Michigan. The star prospect from Northeast High School in Philadelphia who was UT’s first commitment for the 2009 class never seemed completely comfortable with UT’s new coaching staff.

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Comments » 400

MidTennVol writes:

This is about what I expected. Time to start coaching, coaches.

Chief writes:

Keep your chin up fellas!

trooper4prezz writes:

I think we will be ok. I'm not going to judge until the 2010 class comes to be. I think that is when we can start getting mad if we don't see good results.

smokeysal22 writes:

We will be a defensive juggernaut that averages 11.4 pts/game. As long as the defense only gives up 10 pts/game then we will be successful next year.

utnoeler writes:

not sure how to grade this class. seems like we finished where we started. got some and lost as many or more. offense still seems to be missing some huge pieces. defense should be money great again this year.

volunteerfan27204#295834 writes:

Mommas Boys!

volnbig11land writes:

I think all in all, great job! Congrats to the new staff and welcome to the new Vols!

bsc819 writes:

This will be the worst class for a long time and I dont think its that bad at all. We have the recruiting all stars now, keep in mind the coaching change and the terrible season last year. For Kiffin to come in and still get some playmakers is impressive. So Ed buy a case of Red Bulls and make the next few years top 5.
I appreciate everyone who decides to come to UT and for those who waiver Im glad that you arent here. Go Vols

Basketball_Jones writes:

Since the recruiting rankings are based more on # of committs than star rankings. I was looking at Rivals.com at the star ratings and came up with this list.

1. Florida
2. USC
3. Texas
4. LSU
5. Georgia
6. Bama
7. Ohio St
8. FSU
9. Miami
10. Michigan
11. Notre Dame
12. TENNESSEE

To me this isn't to bad. Kiffin and Co. chose quality of quantity. I know we didn't get some people we wanted but we also got some we didn't think we would. Its a new era in UT football and I'm fired up to watch it!

EZVOL writes:

All in all, a very good day. UT addressed many areas of concern. There's still some good undecided picks. Go Vols!

2001_Volunteer writes:

Good Class, lets go win some games boys! Go Vols!

ckeller18 writes:

Losing Brown hurts. Now GA has him and the big kid that started as a freshman this year. Thought Brown might stay in the state, but I guess not. He was THE ONE the coaches wanted.

VolGraduate writes:

in response to Basketball_Jones:

Since the recruiting rankings are based more on # of committs than star rankings. I was looking at Rivals.com at the star ratings and came up with this list.

1. Florida
2. USC
3. Texas
4. LSU
5. Georgia
6. Bama
7. Ohio St
8. FSU
9. Miami
10. Michigan
11. Notre Dame
12. TENNESSEE

To me this isn't to bad. Kiffin and Co. chose quality of quantity. I know we didn't get some people we wanted but we also got some we didn't think we would. Its a new era in UT football and I'm fired up to watch it!

Is that based on average stars?

nwcs writes:

All I'll say is that we've had high ranking classes before and what did it get us? In the end, it's about teamwork and chemistry on the field and the classroom.

Basketball_Jones writes:

Yes its based on star average

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

I am, sad to say it, totally not surprised. I've specualted our class would be 'flat', and it is. No QB, no outstanding receivers, no outstanding anythings. No kickeer, no punters.

The commits we got have decent 'rankings', but we only signed 19. I wished we gotten more offensive and defensive linemen, guys who need a year to season up.

I think CLK is one for one tough deal here. And, for those who wonder, we are paying for some bad recruiting under Phil. We've not had a good QB signing since Erik, and as you know the lack of a quality QB brought Phil's program to an end. It also tainted us on the national scene, and now we look 'unsettled' with the angry young coach.

So, vols, we turn into the future with a team that NEEDS a great defense, that MUST develop a QB who can throw a ten-yard curl, and the toughest godd@m conferenc in the land to try to 'comeback'.

sigh.

rockitwithrespect writes:

cant wait til the O&W game

GO VOLS!!

jamesd3741 writes:

Good point BballJones.

mattnchatt writes:

We needed linemen. Offense and defense.

SignalMtnVol writes:

in response to Basketball_Jones:

Since the recruiting rankings are based more on # of committs than star rankings. I was looking at Rivals.com at the star ratings and came up with this list.

1. Florida
2. USC
3. Texas
4. LSU
5. Georgia
6. Bama
7. Ohio St
8. FSU
9. Miami
10. Michigan
11. Notre Dame
12. TENNESSEE

To me this isn't to bad. Kiffin and Co. chose quality of quantity. I know we didn't get some people we wanted but we also got some we didn't think we would. Its a new era in UT football and I'm fired up to watch it!

That is good, but if you look at the list, that only puts us 5th in the SEC, even though we're 12th overall. Tough crowd, huh? CLK has some serious ground to make up by coaching up the talent we already have, plus these new Volunteers. With success this year, we should have a top 5 class next year.

Txvol57 writes:

This is great! considering the time frame Kiffin had. We still have a shot at Jackson, Oku and Charles...we will see. Plus Kiffin has already got a commitment from the probable top player in the state for next year. Next years class will be fantastic and we have some great coaches...I don't expect a National Championship....but I definitely see us winning 8 to 10 games next season...

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to VolGraduate:

Is that based on average stars?

yes, it is, I did the same thing. we are almost all 3 and 4 stars.

I don't personally place huge stock in the 'stars', but it is a place to start.

I look more at the actual positions filled.

Triton1 writes:

in response to ShaversChoice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thank you for being an adult. This class isn't so bad considering the new staff. You have to give the coaches credit, they could've taken some of the misfits just to boost the class standing, but they instead went after the players they wanted. GO VOLS!

Basketball_Jones writes:

in response to SignalMtnVol:

That is good, but if you look at the list, that only puts us 5th in the SEC, even though we're 12th overall. Tough crowd, huh? CLK has some serious ground to make up by coaching up the talent we already have, plus these new Volunteers. With success this year, we should have a top 5 class next year.

One thing to look at though is where were we last year....30th?? We've had Top 5 classes and done nothing with them. I think this staff will be able to develop players better than the last staff. I also think since they are new, loyalty is not an issue as it was with Fulmer. The best players will play no matter what.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

we still have alot of players who didn't sign today and are waiting, recruiting season isn't over yet.

utfpmd writes:

I like this Robert Nelson kid. Sounds like he really wants to be a Vol.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Basketball_Jones:

Since the recruiting rankings are based more on # of committs than star rankings. I was looking at Rivals.com at the star ratings and came up with this list.

1. Florida
2. USC
3. Texas
4. LSU
5. Georgia
6. Bama
7. Ohio St
8. FSU
9. Miami
10. Michigan
11. Notre Dame
12. TENNESSEE

To me this isn't to bad. Kiffin and Co. chose quality of quantity. I know we didn't get some people we wanted but we also got some we didn't think we would. Its a new era in UT football and I'm fired up to watch it!

The only bad thing about that list is that we were only 5th in the SEC. Still, with all the strikes against us this year, not too bad a performance. The worst of it is that according to Rivals, we only got five of the top 250 prospects, with Richardson at #68 being our top "get". Florida and Bama cleaned our clocks among the elite players(:-/)! Oku is still listed as uncommitted but I am losing hope there. Agree that the coaches have to really start coaching now!

VAvolfanRON writes:

I heard Nu'Keese Richardson just gained 5 lbs of muscle just by talking with Mark Smith!!!!

Coach 'em up

asleep#212036 writes:

And before anybody starts with the "Fulmer had the #6 class" garbage, remember that most of Fulmer's signees were early commits from summer camps - BEFORE we had the crummy season, BEFORE the players' senior high school seasons, and BEFORE they were actually recruited by anyone else. The fact that Kiffin and Co. got so many elite players to visit, even though they ended up signing with their original commitment schools, is impressive. Funny how so many of Fulmer's recruits went elsewhere after he left and yet we were unable to sway other folk's hard commits. Maybe, just maybe, Fulmer's recruits were coming to play for him and not the school. And maybe, just maybe, that's been part of the growing problem all along - kids who care less about UT than they do about themselves. And it is about stars and quantity. With only 18 commits, we were destined to fall down the list. Another six or seven 3- and 4* players would have moved us up considerably. Just some random thoughts. Go Vols!!!

volongulf writes:

Have to ask what about Montori Hughes & Cory Hall, 2 sleeper prospects from earlier classes that went prep & JC. Both DL prospects.

Volunatic writes:

in response to trooper4prezz:

I think we will be ok. I'm not going to judge until the 2010 class comes to be. I think that is when we can start getting mad if we don't see good results.

I'll start judging based on how the Vols play this next season.
Recruiting ain't everything... Mr. February isn't always Mr. Fall.
GO VOLS!!!

govols980 writes:

This is the best class LK has ever signed at UT

Southpaw_Vol writes:

Bryce Brown has yet to sign. Any chance we get the #1 overall recruit in the nation?

Basketball_Jones writes:

Like I said before, it doesn't matter how many 5 star players you get if you don't coach them up. USC has a Top 3 class every year and they have won 1 BCS championship. Look what Georgia does with their talent, NOTHING! No NC's since the 80's. Beat down by WVU in Sugar Bowl....Its about developing players. Look what all that talent did this year for Bama. Hammered by Florida, hammered by Utah....NADA!!!!

filmjr#558361 writes:

Very happy, me.

These are 19 solid, occasionally outstanding commits. CLK clearly saving for 2010.

And let's not forget: two of our CURRENT QBs were 4* guys. Maybe a return to a solid, fundamental pro-style offense will let them live up to potential the next year or two. Tauren Poole, a highly coveted prospect in 07, might actually get to play this year, instead of waiting behind upperclassmen that know more about the nuance of pass protection. And while we might be lacking a can't-miss stud on the D-line, our linebackers and DBs are wicked, and about to be coached up by one of the greatest coordinators in football history.

Go. Mother. Grabbin. Vols.

Triton1 writes:

in response to utfpmd:

I like this Robert Nelson kid. Sounds like he really wants to be a Vol.

I just told my wife the same thing.

johnlg00 writes:

Also, we are only THIRD in our division, behind our biggest division rivals. Not making up much ground right now, are we? Surely HOPE the coaching makes some difference, not that we would have been favored against Florida, almost no matter WHO we got this year! Brown's defection surely gave us some extra incentive against the 'Dawgs, but also made it harder to get any revenge!

yeavols#228407 writes:

I am with asleep212036 on that one..

Go4Two writes:

in response to VOLstuckINky:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's right 151-51 couldn't coach a lick...Lane should have no problem winning 10 or 11 games all he has to do is just coach'em up..

VolsRoadRash98 writes:

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way things have wrapped up. We got a coach who recruited some good assitants and still landed a decent recruiting class. I basically have two thoughts. (Mainly about the many complaints I've read about what Kiffin did to Fulmer's class.)

Unlike Auburn, we changed coaches early which allowed more time for our '09 commits to reconsider. Auburn's recruits didn't have much time to reconsider after Cheez-it was named HC. IMO, we ended up with a better long term solution by getting our coaches lined up early instead of worrying about the '09 class so much. We're still a top 25 class.

Second, I'm glad Kiffin encouraged some of our recruits to look elsewhere because they didn't fit the system. Clawson tried to install an offense when the existing players didn't fit the bill. So not only did Kiffin land a top 25 class, but it's a class that has the skills to implement the offensive and defensive systems he wants to run. Again, a better long term solution.

I'm keeping the faith. We'll win at least 8 next year and land a great class. By 2011 we'll be kicking some SEC a*s.

cainclifton23 writes:

I would still take crompton over joe cox anyday

BuckheadVol1 writes:

in response to Basketball_Jones:

Since the recruiting rankings are based more on # of committs than star rankings. I was looking at Rivals.com at the star ratings and came up with this list.

1. Florida
2. USC
3. Texas
4. LSU
5. Georgia
6. Bama
7. Ohio St
8. FSU
9. Miami
10. Michigan
11. Notre Dame
12. TENNESSEE

To me this isn't to bad. Kiffin and Co. chose quality of quantity. I know we didn't get some people we wanted but we also got some we didn't think we would. Its a new era in UT football and I'm fired up to watch it!

I could not agree more. I am happy to have the kids that want to be here. Now let's get to work!

cgbtn writes:

The coaches did a pretty good job of recruiting -- all things condidered. But, don't let the few who got away upset you too much. Maybe our coaches can coach what we already have. Marlon Brown is probably rated no higher than Ahmad Paige who has spent two years wasting away on our bench. Danarius Moore can run by anybody he's turned loose on. We have two great young running backs. Maybe the best recruiting we can do this year is off our own roster.

GotPearl writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

And before anybody starts with the "Fulmer had the #6 class" garbage, remember that most of Fulmer's signees were early commits from summer camps - BEFORE we had the crummy season, BEFORE the players' senior high school seasons, and BEFORE they were actually recruited by anyone else. The fact that Kiffin and Co. got so many elite players to visit, even though they ended up signing with their original commitment schools, is impressive. Funny how so many of Fulmer's recruits went elsewhere after he left and yet we were unable to sway other folk's hard commits. Maybe, just maybe, Fulmer's recruits were coming to play for him and not the school. And maybe, just maybe, that's been part of the growing problem all along - kids who care less about UT than they do about themselves. And it is about stars and quantity. With only 18 commits, we were destined to fall down the list. Another six or seven 3- and 4* players would have moved us up considerably. Just some random thoughts. Go Vols!!!

Smartest post I have read in awhile. We will be fine! There is a bunch of talent on the hill right now, its just they have never had coaches like they have now! 10 - 3 next year! Can't wait for the Orange and White game!

kdaff51 writes:

Considering everything that has transpired over the last few moths The Vols have done excepionally well.

pusselgut writes:

My observation on this class is it is very heavy with defensive players. We only had one offensive lineman commit. I am not sure how deep at that position we are, but I bet we are going to be very thin..

smokey101 writes:

Is Memphis considered instate in terms of recruiting? it doesn't seem like they bleed orange there.

StroVol writes:

Where else can you watch Kiffin conference besides utsports.com

vollowme writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

funny, my bone lies to me all the time.

Basketball_Jones writes:

Coach K said Marlon called last night and said his grandmother wouldn't let him come to Tennessee....I know she didn't make the trip "due to an illness"...interesting side of the story...good luck MB

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