One of the biggest recruiting coups of the year for first-year Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin was landing Georgia's Markeith Ambles. A wide receiver with a good frame at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Ambles might as well call his hands "Elmer," with his ability to hold onto the ball in tight spaces. His ability to go over the middle is a valuable commodity for the senior wideout, but Ambles also stretches the defense down the field with big-play ability.
"I know I can do a lot of things. I'm not afraid of contact but I also know that I can go deep for that home run play," Ambles said. "There are a lot of ways I can be used on the field and I think my versatility fits well with Coach Kiffin's offense."
It was a great senior season for Ambles, who went over 1,000 receiving yards (hauling in 13 touchdowns) and over 400 yards on the ground. He also nabbed two interceptions while playing in the secondary. It was that type of polished talent that led to offers from nearly every program in the SEC and ACC, including one from Tennessee.
Ambles speaks highly of Kiffin, saying that the Tennessee coach was the major reason why he chose to verbal to the Vols early in the recruiting process. Kiffin not only gave Markeith a winning sales pitch but the player says that the coach convinced his parents, too. Simply put, Kiffin put in a charm offensive to land the U.S. Army All-American.
"He told my parents the philosophy of the staff and the school," Ambles said. "He told them they had nothing to worry about if I went to Tennessee. He said they would take good care of me."
He first visited Tennessee as a junior when the Volunteers hosted Florida. He instantly became intrigued by the program and the entire atmosphere around "Rocky Top." Even though the team was coached by Phillip Fulmer at the time, Ambles was not deterred by the change in the coaching staff last December. In fact, he says that he "fell more in love" with Tennessee when Kiffin took over the program.
And Ambles is quick to point out that the recent string of arrests and disorderly conduct at the program won't deter him from putting on the orange and white of the Volunteers next fall. Ambles said that incidents like those over the past month in Knoxville will "happen at any program." Rather than be fearful that the program is running wild, he is confident in his own upbringing to help him make right decisions and isn't concerned about the arrests.
At the same time that he says he is still a solid verbal to the Volunteers, Ambles continues to entertain offers and interest from other programs. On Sunday night, he had what he termed "a really good" in-home sit-down with West Virginia wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway. During the meeting, the two talked about academics and the overall direction of the Mountaineers. Ambles said that Galloway told him "that you don't have to go to an SEC school to make it to the NFL." Ambles also said that Tennessee knew all along that he would entertain offers from other schools and even make official visits and the Vols have no issue with his open ears to other schools.
"I will visit Tennessee in January on the 16th and go to West Virginia a week after that," Ambles said, also adding that he is trying to schedule a December visit to either Alabama or North Carolina. Despite the visits, he says that he is "still solid to Tennessee right now.
"Unless something crazy happens, Tennessee is where I plan to sign," Ambles said.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Philadelphia's Corey Brown denies looking at programs other than Ohio State. Brown, an Under Armour All-American, told SI.com that "I'm happy with the Buckeyes" and stated that he is not looking elsewhere. He committed to the Buckeyes in September. ... Talented Florida linebacker Jeff Luc committed to Florida State last week. One of the top players in the Sunshine State, Luc is the first major commitment for newly minted head coach Jimbo Fisher. He will need to work on his in-game speed, but Luc is perhaps the most physically impressive linebacker in the nation, with an almost NFL build to his frame. Like Brown, he will be in the Under Armour Bowl. ... With offers from the likes of UCLA and San Jose State, it'd be easy to lump Wade Yandall into the category of being a jock, but Yandall is actually proud to be called a "nerd." ... An underrated prospect at cornerback with room for growth, Jeremi Wilkes is a nice pickup for Syracuse, where he verbally committed over a week ago. Wilkes is a bit undersized at 5-9 but can makes plays against larger receivers despite his frame.
Andrew Hendrix is one of the best young quarterbacks in the nation, standing out at Cincinnati's football powerhouse Moeller. Last year, Moeller finished 6-5 while playing what was arguably the nation's toughest schedule. This year, Moeller once again made the Ohio state playoffs and finished the season 9-2. Hendrix is a big boy who has the build of a home run hitting first baseman (not surprising since he is a star on the diamond, too). Don't let his size fool you, though. Despite projecting as a pro-style quarterback at the next level, his ability to move well in the pocket will make him very tough to take down. Notre Dame looks to have a winner in this young man. As of now, Hendrix remains committed to the program, despite the dismissal of head coach Charlie Weiss.