Tennessee’s recruiting class is jumping ship

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While USC begins to usher in a new era with head coach Lane Kiffin, the University of Tennessee is left scrambling to pick up the pieces.

After just one year on the job in Knoxville-a year in which the Vols went 7-6-Kiffin stunned the Volunteer community by stepping down and bolting for the west coast to take over for Pete Carroll at the University of Southern California. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin as well as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron will be joining Kiffin at USC.

Here’s the big problem for the University of Tennessee. Not only must they get a new head coach in place (athletic director Mike Hamilton wants to make a hire by January 17), but the Volunteers must find a way to keep their 2010 recruiting class from decommitting and jumping ship-quickly.

With National Letter of Intent Day-the day in which most high school football players announce where they will be playing in the fall-just under three weeks away (February 3), the University must try to clean up the mess left by Kiffin and put their program back together.

The 2010 Tennessee recruiting class was ranked No. 6 in the nation by ESPN, but that number could drop in a hurry. Since Kiffin’s departure, four of the 23 members of the 2010 class have already decommitted. The four players who will no longer be playing at Tennessee are:

1. Brandon Willis Defensive Tackle 4-Star
2. Michael Taylor Linebacker 4-Star
3. Calvin Smith Defensive Tackle 4-Star
4. Delvin Jones Defensive End 4-Star

As if the situation couldn’t get any worse on Rocky Top, Dave Hooker of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that Orgeron is already trying to get members of Tennessee’s recruiting class to follow him and Kiffin to USC.

To rub more salt in the wound, J.C. Shurburtt of ESPN.com is reporting that the Volunteers’ top recruit, safety Ahmad Dixon, who had recently committed to Tennessee, is now possibly heading to USC for a recruiting visit this weekend.

One thing is for certain: Tennessee needs to get a new coaching staff in place in a hurry.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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