Thigpen looking elsewhere after being told he's not right fit

Tennessee commitment Damien Thigpen is pursuing other options after being told he would likely not fit into the Vols’ plans under new football coach Lane Kiffin.

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound athlete from Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Va., was told of the decision on Sunday during his official visit. Thigpen, who committed to UT in April, will now visit UCLA this weekend and Notre Dame on Feb. 13.

Thigpen’s mother, Tracy Thigpen, said Thursday her son is still committed to UT for now.

“The only thing that we’re saying right now is that he wants to explore his options and make sure we find the best place for him,” Tracy Thigpen said.

When Kiffin was hired, athletic director Mike Hamilton mandated that Kiffin must honor all scholarships for prospects who committed to former coach Phillip Fulmer.

Although UT representatives cannot discuss specific prospects as per NCAA rules, Hamilton said late Thursday that the policy is still in place, that every committed prospect still has a scholarship waiting at UT.

Kiffin used a similar tactic with two committed quarterback prospects in December: Tajh Boyd and Bryce Petty. Both were told they likely wouldn’t fit into Kiffin’s offense and subsequently explored other options.

Boyd committed to Clemson this week. Petty has since taken official visits to Southern Methodist and Arkansas, although it is unknown if either school has offered Petty a scholarship. Petty chose UT over Portland State and New Mexico last summer.

Timing is the greatest hurdle for Thigpen to overcome. National Signing Day is Wednesday and schools have far less scholarships available than they did a month ago.

Thigpen was one of UT’s most committed prospects through Fulmer’s dismissal and Kiffin’s hiring. He never took an official visit to another school and never publicly questioned UT’s decision to make a coaching change.

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Comments » 361

WiseVol writes:

Guess the rumors are true??

DennisVols writes:

Now that one I did not see coming

BIGEJ writes:

Huh??

lowman4vols writes:

that's stupid! kiffin is making a mistake here. i am a big kiffin supporter but this guy can play and would be great on special teams and special packages!

Rev_AlWilson writes:

So thats why Austin "Danger" Rogers' brother is still coming. Guaranteed one year of school.

allvol9 writes:

I just hate that it was so late in the recruiting process. If he does not come to UT..I really hope he goes to a school that he likes and does great. Best wishes whatever he chooses to do.

chrisw2967 writes:

not sure how to take this , this kid never took another visit to any other school ,I feel for him cause it is late in the regruiting year to be told this.I hope he lands some place next week.maybe he will come to tenn anyways and turn out to be a stud, who knows

MikeTheVol writes:

Man, I dunno what to make of that??????

bigorangefan79 writes:

Sucks for him, I hope CLK has a plan for that scholarship.

JMP_Vols writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hate to say it....but....i agree.

huntined#565710 writes:

Wonder why this young man was not told at the same time Boyd and Petty were?

coach75 writes:

i like the fact that they are being honest with these kids to give them somewhat of a chance to find other schools. i think the thigpen situation was a little too late to tell him though. this kid has about four days to explore other schools and make a decision. he has sounded like he has wanted to be at tennessee and that should be a sign that he will give his heart to be here. i say, let him know that he is still wanted and go on from there.

utnut#215669 writes:

I wonder if CLK knows that there are only so many he can sign, because of some silent commits??? Just wondering!!! Also at 5'8" 170 lbs seems small to me.

dfreeman writes:

My only thought here is that Kiffin has a silent commit from someone! That's the only reason I can see him doing this so late in the game! I too wish he would have given this kid more time!

MikeTheVol writes:

This kid is a 4 star, 4.4. smoker! All I can figure is that something went wrong with his visit, or his grades aren't cuttin' it in school right now.

VolGraduate writes:

I feel really bad for these kids. Somethings not kosher about this. So kiffin thinks rogers is better than thigpen? Kiffin hasn't applied his "fit the system" to every recruit and I don't think it's helping. Kiffin better pull in some bigger recruots and get alot of Ws this season or he'll be in a bad situation

allvol9 writes:

Maybe something happened last week on his visit. Maybe not. But this kid has been all Vol for the entire time....he really wanted to be a Vol. Can't help but feel bad about it for him unless there is more to the story. Glad his Mother said he may still come but will take 2 visits. At least he can still be a Vol if he chooses....may show coaches what he can really do.

MikeTheVol writes:

in response to dfreeman:

My only thought here is that Kiffin has a silent commit from someone! That's the only reason I can see him doing this so late in the game! I too wish he would have given this kid more time!

Yeah, that would make sense. I just hope LK knows what the h.e.double hockey sticks he's doing. I hope this doesn't cause other committments to get jumpy!

JMP_Vols writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

Wonder why this young man was not told at the same time Boyd and Petty were?

That's what stinks about this situation.

You have a player who has been committed through it all and finds out less than a week from NSD that he's "not a good fit."

I'm sorry, but that's not right. No reason to wait this late in the process. No excuse.

tngl4ut writes:

I love it how Notre Dame and UCLA are now considered backup options to UT. I guess we all have forgot what happened the last time we played these two schools.

lilesrt writes:

Ok I like Kiffin but he just ticked me off on this one! This kid was loyal to Tennessee and this is what he gets? The shaft less than one week before signing day? Tell me they have looked at film on this guy prior to last weekend... He is no slouch. He runs like a 4.4 40. At this point we need all of the 4 star speedsters we can get. Poor judgment in my opinion.

Outdors21 writes:

This kid is small and fast.

Brandon James anyone? Explain to me how he couldn't help IMMEDIATELY on PR/KR? He's a short blitzkrieg of speed.

I didnt mind the Boyd/Petty issues...but this one makes me a bit upset.

VolInIndy writes:

If true as written, this is total b.s. Telling him he doesn't fit is one thing but waiting eight weeks to do it is inexcusable. I have experienced very bad vibes about this coach all along. Not exactly as accurate as the Witch Doctor's bones but my gut very seldom lies. Hopefully it's this new Mexican cheese dip I've been devouring lately.

VolGraduate writes:

If thigpins grades were bad he wouldn't be visiting notredame and ucla

MikeTheVol writes:

in response to lilesrt:

Ok I like Kiffin but he just ticked me off on this one! This kid was loyal to Tennessee and this is what he gets? The shaft less than one week before signing day? Tell me they have looked at film on this guy prior to last weekend... He is no slouch. He runs like a 4.4 40. At this point we need all of the 4 star speedsters we can get. Poor judgment in my opinion.

There's got to be more to it than what we know. Hopefully, the rest of the story will come out tomorrow. Either way, I feel for the kid. He has a been a loyal committment.

smokyredbone writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

utnut#215669 writes:

Maybe they wanted him to play a different position than he wanted to? After his visit neither would budge, who knows.

floridavolsfan writes:

Says something about CLK--- how about the young man?

Voluvr writes:

in response to WiseVol:

Guess the rumors are true??

hmm. That's a tough deal to be told so late. That goes to show that these guys that hold their options open with several schools are pretty smart. However, at least coach tells them up front. If this kid isn't at a 4.4 40 with his small size I understand. Bryce Petty looked better than what we have. I getting real curious as to exactly what kind of QB will fit into the system.

andy112382#209793 writes:

Good question about the wondering if he is making some room for other commitments, we will find that out soon enough. Also, yea 5'8" is how tall I am, I know I would not stand a chance covering a WR like Marlon Brown! (atheleticism aside, just speaking size)

I know there are some people thinking this wasn't handled well, but I would think it would be far worse for a coaching staff to take a guy just to get him off the market then not use him well or at all because he doesn't fit in. Kind of like some of the guys that vanished on recent rosters.

VolGraduate writes:

Thigpen,

Come to UT and prove Kiffin wrong. You have the support of VolNation whereever you land. Keep your head up.

asleep#212036 writes:

I think everyone is forgetting that UT must still honor his scholarship. And who knows? If he shows up anyway, he might just earn his way onto the team. I'm not defending the timing of this revelation to Mr. Thigpen, just saying that he isn't out in the cold. He has a spot - guaranteed by Mr. Hamilton himself. Further, if Kiffin indeed turned away a 4* athlete with 4.4 speed for the reason implied, he must have somebody else in mind. If it is for a different, off-the-field reason, such as grades, etc..., then we are just flapping our gums for no reason and Kiffin should be praised for refusing to continue on the former path of recruiting kids who never made it onto the field. Besides, these things generally work out better for both parties in the long run.

ZR writes:

THIGPEN STILL HAS A SCHOLARSHIP OFFER FROM UT

gohawks1 writes:

Harsh.

rubbervol writes:

He should come anyway !

Pullingguard writes:

Not smart for UT to wait until this late date to tell the player he does not fit...Reduces his opportunities to other schools and projects less than a good image of Vols to other players who read about this... Makes it easier for a desired player on signing day to say... see you vols... going elsewhere....Makes good sense for a player to keep em guessing.

utvolnatl writes:

I have to think that their is more to the story. Until CLK proves otherwise, he deserves the benefit of the doubt so let's give it to him. Signing day will be fine this year, and if any of us had been told we could recover like this the day CLK was hired we would have been perfectly satisfied.

BTW, I really don't get these guys from other schools spending so much time posting on our site. I suggest we stay the course and ignore every one of them as someone suggested. Eventually they will leave if ignored.

volpreacher writes:

Just have a feeling there are some big names who are going to fill these vacated spots. Just a feeling though. Hope it's right.

troopervol writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As opposed to letting him come and ride the pine, eat up a scholarship, and be a disturbance in the locker room for four years? Yeah right! Better late than never!

Also, we don't now the whole story here. Maybe Kiffin learned something about him just recently that gave him some new insight.

Nobody on here has brought up the possibility that maybe the coaching staff saw something in him on his recruiting visit this past weekend that made them feel this way about this kid. Watch all the tape you want, but seeing a kid in person can tell you a whole lot more.

Trying to pretend that we know what are the right moves and wrong moves when we only have fragments of the whole story is ridiculous. These guys are pros, they know what they are doing.

vtvol#210290 writes:

That was terrible timing by CLK. If he had counselled Thigpen about what his future held at UTK during the same time span as Boyd and Petty, it would have been understandable. But short-timing this kid with lass than a week to NSD is irreprehensible. Let Damien come play and surprise.

Voluvr writes:

You know I'm in full support of Kiffen, but what a stinking kick in the gut when you didn't even visit other schools, everyone knows you're commited in your home town, your one week away from the biggest day of your life and your taking your victory lap on your official visit, then they call you in and say, "we don't think you are going to fit into our system," one week away from signing day. Now, you have to shrug the biggest rejection and embarrassment of your life and try to find another school that will hopefully give you a way to go to college. If I were him, I'd hold him to Hamilton's requirement to honor all previous offers, then, take my time to find a school to transfer to and ask for a release if it's in conference. I WILL SAY, Spurrier did the same thing, but worse to a kid in Ga. so bad that the HS coach told Spurrier that USC is not welcome to recruit at the school. I really feel for the kid, but, I'm going to give Lane the benefit of the doubt and hope there was something else going on too.

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

How does a 4.4 forty athlete not "fit in" anywhere? The QB's, i can see, but this kid would not appear to have a position yet...???...

You gotta feel for this guy who stuck through the whole transition and then with a little over a week is told he's no longer wanted. That's cold.

smokyredbone writes:

in response to VolGraduate:

I feel really bad for these kids. Somethings not kosher about this. So kiffin thinks rogers is better than thigpen? Kiffin hasn't applied his "fit the system" to every recruit and I don't think it's helping. Kiffin better pull in some bigger recruots and get alot of Ws this season or he'll be in a bad situation

Rodgers is bigger and faster than Thigpen! Don't judge the younger one on Austin's struggles. ( he is a 100 meter champion)! Just look at the kids kiffin is after, they are all 6'3 220 and run 4.4's. Just relax and let him do what we are paying for!!!! GO VOLS!

lilesrt writes:

in response to andy112382#209793:

Good question about the wondering if he is making some room for other commitments, we will find that out soon enough. Also, yea 5'8" is how tall I am, I know I would not stand a chance covering a WR like Marlon Brown! (atheleticism aside, just speaking size)

I know there are some people thinking this wasn't handled well, but I would think it would be far worse for a coaching staff to take a guy just to get him off the market then not use him well or at all because he doesn't fit in. Kind of like some of the guys that vanished on recent rosters.

That is fine. If he doesn't fit into your system I understand. But tell the kid in advance. At least give him a chance to evaluate other schools to market himself. These are just kids. Some of these other "prospects" that commit one day just to go on 2-3 official visits to other schools need to learn what a true commitment is. Damien Thigpen was a true commitment. I really want this recruiting year to hurry up and end before Kiffin realizes none of our commitments "fit into his system." At this rate we may only sign ten players this year! I'm out! See y'all tomorrow.

ALL_VOL75 writes:

There's got to be more to this story...otherwise poor taste Coach on the handling of this so late in the game. Good luck to this young man I hope he finds a scholarship.

smokyredbone writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for your concern Troll! Get lost and worry about your recruits!! Maybe Saban wants a 5'8 athlete. I'm glad Kiffins not!!! We'll trade him for Trent Richardson You Twerp!! GO VOLS BEAT THE BAMMERS/CHEATERS!!!!

allvol9 writes:

I guess one thing we have to keep in mind is that....the coaches and Kiffin cannot comment about it. Maybe there is more to the story (I hope) and there hands are tied pretty much simply because they cannot comment to the public. I really hope that is what it is.

bobbarbilly writes:

Who knows, who knows, but the timing of this caper is terrible. I know some of the athletes string the coaches along as per qb Sims but the reaction to bad behavior should not be bad behavior. No matter how they did it in
the " big leagues".
This leaves this young man hung out to dry and if these carrot-in-front-of-the-goat events become the norm, UT will quickly develop a reputation that it does not want or need.
Honor this young man's scholarship. The key word being HONOR.

huntined#565710 writes:

At first I said if this was my son he would go to U.T
But then I thought I would not want him to go where he was not wanted Looks like this guy was like the Groom and the Bride ran away as they played the Wedding March. Waited too late to tell him period!!If PAT or BRUCE did this it would still be wrong.

Voluvr writes:

in response to Banned:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I wouldn't go that far. Look Kiffen does have to do what's best for the program. The kid is very small and probably not a good fit. Better now than not telling him and just not playing him. Yes, a very tough deal for the kid, but this doesn't compare to any other actions to other coaches and is certainly not a reason to not pull for the University. You're bailing out too quickly. With Fulmer people wanted more of an aggresive fighter. Now we have it. Just wait till next year, Kiffen & Co. are going to be running the SEC soon.

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