Lane Kiffin Fallout: Which Tennessee Recruits Are Up for Grabs?
Lane Kiffin left Tennessee after compiling a top-ten recruiting class rich with defensive talent.
At least four commits have been left in the early enrollment lurch. Only one of them might be spared the nasty legal proceedings associated with a release from scholarship.
No less than six of the class's top players have already decommitted and are looking elsewhere.
Things are a mess in Knoxville, and the UT administration will have to act fast to salvage what was once a great class.
Here's a survey of the wreckage. Gloves recommended.
ILB Michael Taylor
Mere hours after Kiffin's announcement, a teammate of four-star ILB and Tennessee commit Michael Taylor was rumored to have switched his commitment to Florida after decommitting almost immediately after Kiffin's departure.
Taylor, for his part, is refuting the report at the moment and maintains that he is not committed elsewhere.
If Florida is his final destination, that's bad news for Michigan, who seemed to be in the running to change Taylor's mind before Kiffin departed.
Rivals' page on Taylor list his interest in Florida as "high,' but the commitment is still pending if Michigan wants to make a last-minute pitch.
Taylor played in the Under Armour All-American game and is the no. 12 MLB recruit according to Scout.
DE Brandon Willis
Willis recommitted to Tennessee at the Army All-American game after decommitting earlier in the week.
Now, he's decommitting again, and has already affirmed a commitment to UNC and Butch Davis.
Considering his wayward departure, he could recommit to everyone and no one by signing day, which is still three weeks away.
But his father told the Spartanburg Herald Journal that his son plans on enrolling at UNC today.
Other sources are indicating Willis actually voted for the Iraq war before he voted against it.
S Ahmad Dixon
Dixon decommitted from Baylor before committing to the Vols last week. Now, he'll likely change his commitment again: he's taking a visit to USC that was tentatively canceled after Pete Carroll's departure.
If the USC visit doesn't work out, he could favor Alabama, Auburn, or Florida. And I wouldn't rule out a return to the Baylor Bears, or Texas, to whom he'd committed to begin the recruiting process.
DE Delvin Jones
Jones was one of the first to decommit from Tennessee and told ESPN that Kiffin and his coaches' departure was "tough to take."
That rules out a commitment to USC, naturally. He seems a lock to stay in the SEC, with Alabama, Arkansas or Ole Miss the likely benefactors of his decommitment. He is also open to seeing how Tennessee restructures with a new coach, as long as it isn't Kiffykins.
QB Tyler Bray
Looks like Bray will still enroll early at Tennessee. His schooling as a Vol took effect today.
He survived, amen.
WR Markeith Ambles
Ambles hasn't officially decommitted from Tennessee, but Kiffin was clearly the draw for him; he's said he would consider following Kiffin to Southern Cal.
If the Georgia prospect is back on the market, the rest of the South could also have a fighting chance to capitalize on the indecision of the no. 7 overall WR. He'd considered offers from the Tide as well as Auburn, Florida, and Florida State before committing to Tennessee.
Ambles played in the Army All-American game this year and was at or near the top of most incoming WR recruiting lists.
DE J.C. Copeland
After Kiffin's departure, Copeland maintained he had committed to Tennessee, not to Kiffin, but left the door open to make other official visits.
Copeland committed back in May, so he might need to scramble to put together visits. He was considering Auburn, South Carolina, Maryland and Ole Miss prior to his commitment.
Any one of them looks to benefit if he departs, but the indication is that he isn't wavering as badly as many of the others.
DB Marques Dixon
Like Copeland, Dixon remains committed to the Vols.
The Miami Hurricanes remained in the mix for his pledge up until his commitment to Tennessee about a week ago, and they could be the benefactors of his decommitment unless the Vols hire someone favorable.
The three-star cornerback's commitment is still fresh enough that a departure isn't totally unthinkable or unforgivable, but he reaffirmed his commitment a few times after Kiffin left. He is still planning on visiting Southern Miss, Tennesee and Miami.
DT Calvin Smith
The news recently broke that Calvin Smith, a DT out of Florida, has dropped his commitment to UT citing the instability of the program.
He held offers from Notre Dame, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Pittsburgh, Florida, Florida State and Illinois.
Notre Dame jumps out at me what with Brian Kelly's pursuit of defensive prospects and the Irish's needs on the DL. Kelly could get an audience and will hope to compete with the typical SEC fare.
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
Kiffin leaving isn't the weirdest thing to come out of all this. The weirdest thing is clearly that TMZ has a sports page, and that sport page is reporting that four-star WR Kenbrell Thompkins is decommitting from Tennessee and skipping out on his first day of classes (which were scheduled to begin today).
Thompkins hasn't indicated where his other top choices are. He was considering offers from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Florida State and LSU prior to his commitment.
The Unfortunate Four: Corey Miller, Jacques Smith, Matt Milton and Jawuan James
These four talented but unfortunate gentlemen enrolled early at Tennessee and are now without a head coach. If they've already attended class, they would have to apply for a release from their scholarship.
But if they're that upset at Kiffin's actions, on principle, they should be let go.
James (pictured) was a four-star OL prospect who may be the one that is most easily spared.
James drove to Tennessee's campus to enroll on Monday, but if he did not actually attend any classes yet, he may be spared the repercussions for a release from scholarship.
If he's released, he could revisit the interest from his home team, the Georgia Bulldogs, or his offers from Alabama, Florida and UCLA.
For the other three, things look to be a little more complicated. I'll update more as the situation progresses, but tentatively, they might be better off staying.