GAINESVILLE -- Hide the youngins, SEC football coaches, new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is coming to steal your children. If it doesn't happen in 2009, you can bet on it happening in 2010.
Contrary to what you might read in the Mobile Press-Register CLICK ME!, Kiffin is showing early signs that he has the smarts and salesmanship to succeed in at least one discipline required to win in the SEC: recruiting. First, Kiffin stole assistant coaches. Next up, the recruits.
Alabama coach Nick Saban is taking notice. After losing one of his top recruiters, assistant Lance Thompson, Saban recently told his current crop of recruits not to take official recruiting visits to Knoxville. CLICK ME! Seems like a good idea after news today that Pahokee receiver Nu'Keese Richardson had a fabulous time this weekend on a recruiting trip to the University of Tennessee. According to a Rivals.com report, Richardson is rethinking his oral commitment to Florida.
"I don't know it's going to be really difficult now because Tennessee certainly showed me somethings I didn't see at Florida and that impressed me tremendously," Richardson said. "I don't want to rush and making a decision yet so I'm going to let things settle down in my head, talk it over with the family and come to a conclusion about which school I will sign with just before signing day."
According to a few people up in Tennessee, Nu'Keese actually didn't want to take the trip but did so on the order of his parents. Smart parents. Recruits should have every opportunity to make an educated decision on their collegiate destination. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either a coach or a fan.
Richardson isn't the only UF recruit Tennessee's new coaching staff is hoping to sign on Wednesday. Paris (Tenn.) Henry County cornerback Marsalis Teague is also considering the Vols. Teague committed to UF last month but now appears to be waffling on that decision. His high school coach has told a few people in Knoxville that his star player is headed to UT.
For those keeping score, that's two UF commitments that Kiffin and his all-star cast of recruiters have been able to influence in a very short amount of time. Kiffin didn't finalize his coaching staff until AFTER the national championship. That's quick work. Given a full year, Kiffin and his staff should have Tennessee on the road to recovery in the world of recruiting.
In addition to hiring Thompson away from Alabama, Kiffin stole South Carolina recruiting coordinator David Reaves from the Gamecocks. Reaves, Kiffin's brother-in-law, is the son of UF legend John Reaves. Kiffin also pilfered running backs coach Frank Wilson from Mississippi State. Wilson is a well-known recruiter in Louisiana.
That leads us to former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron, who coached with Kiffin at USC. Orgeron might not have been much of a head coach at Ole Miss but he is one heck of a recruiter. Tennessee also picked up former Auburn assistant Eddie Gran. Gran is an excellent recruiter as well. In his time with the Tigers, he signed more kids out of South Florida than perhaps any team not named Miami.
Kiffin's staff of talented recruiters appears to be salvaging the Vols' 2009 recruiting class and, more importantly, laying the necessary groundwork for the future. Beware.