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Kiffin leaves recruits in his Southern Cal dust
After a one-year reclamation project at Tennessee, Lane Kiffin took a job as the head football coach at Southern California on Tuesday night, creating a major frenzy among a number of prestigious recruits in the state of Florida.
With college football's national signing day nearly three weeks away, Kiffin's decision to bolt for the West Coast came as a shock to some of his current commits and potential recruiting targets.
Delvin Jones, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound defensive end from Miami Palmetto High, had committed to Tennessee and was planning to visit the campus in Knoxville this weekend until he received a call from one of his high school coaches on Tuesday evening.
"What the hell is going on?" asked Jones. "I was sleeping and one of my coaches called. He told me that Coach Kiffin left, then I started getting texts from other players."
Jones was supposed to take his official visit with a fellow Miami-area player and Tennessee commit -- Ralph Williams of Gulliver Preparatory School--but now both players are in a state of shock.
"I talked to Ralph and Marques (Dixon) and they're just like me right now, they don't know what's going on," Jones said. "This is crazy, that's (messed) up Tennessee. I don't know how they're going to talk about recruiting violations and stuff and then leave."
Current commits like Williams and Jones will now have to reassess where they will play college football. Other players from the state of Florida that had given Tennessee a pledge are Hialeah DT Calvin Smith, North Miami WR Ted Meline and Forth Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas K/P Michael Palardy.
Lake Howell LB Christian Jones is one of many other recruits who was being courted by Tennessee, as were Hialeah DE Corey Lemonier and Tampa Catholic OT Chaz Green.
"Yeah, it pretty much does (eliminate Tennessee,)" said Christian Jones. "Signing day is real close. I liked my visit up there a lot, it was one of my favorite schools."
Jones though is in a curious position, as he liked Tennessee along with USC, and he was slated to take a visit to Los Angeles this weekend, until coach Pete Carroll left for the NFL .
"It was a real shocker to me, Tennessee was one of my top choices," added Jones. "USC is looking good now, I really like USC too. I was going to visit there this weekend but I'll probably push that back."
Christian Jones also said USC is a "great situation" with the addition of Kiffin and he understands that drastic coaching changes occur.
"My dad tells me all the time to pick a school for the school itself because coaches come and go," Jones said of his father, Willie Jones Sr., who played at Florida State and in the NFL. "But you talk to these coaches every week and you build relationships with them and that's really why you pick the school. It's tough for UT but Coach Kiffin had a great deal (at USC)."
With the fallout just beginning, coaches from around the nation will look to swoop in on currently committed players such as Delvin Jones, who said that other schools vying for his services didn't call him immediately, but he does expect calls on Wednesday.
Whichever programs do decide to go after Tennessee's pledges, they will have to act fast, as National Signing Day is Feb. 3..