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Ripples of Kiffin's move reach McDonough

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

The news broke at 7:07 p.m. on ESPN.com Tuesday night that the SEC's most volatile personality -- Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin -- agreed to become Southern California's next football coach in the wake of former Trojans coach Pete Carroll leaving to coach the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL.

Kiffin was putting together a vaunted recruiting class before his abrupt departure to the West Coast. Suddenly, the Volunteers' class is shrouded in uncertainty, leaving recruits like Henry County wide receiver Markeith Ambles with decisions to make with just weeks left before National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

Ambles has been in San Antonio, where he participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday. Playing for the East team, Ambles started and had a highlight-reel 41-yard catch.

But now he's left to determine where he stands with his commitment to Tennessee.

And he's not sure where that is yet.

"I'm not really sure what I'm going to do about the situation," Ambles said.

Kiffin's move to USC led to a stressful day for Ambles. Media hounded the 6-foot-3, 180-pound wide receiver, hoping to glean whether he would stay at Tennessee, open up his recruitment to other schools or follow Kiffin to USC.

"I'm definitely interested in USC and want to try and trip out there over the next two weeks," Ambles told ESPN.com. "I would love to get out there this week, but for sure on Jan. 22. Things have been crazy the last 24 hours, everyone is calling me right now and I mean everyone."

Ambles expressed more ambivalence in that scenario to other media outlets.

"Yeah, that's definitely a possibility," Ambles told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "They were recruiting me. I don't know. I've got to talk to my dad."

With Ambles' elite talent -- he is ranked as the no. 7 wide receiver prospect in the nation by Rivals -- scholarship offers were near infinite. The excitement Kiffin engendered into the Volunteers program last summer was what convinced Ambles to verbally commit before his senior season.

Ambles transferred to Henry County before his junior season from Griffin and immediately thrived in the Warhawks pass-oriented spread offense. He caught 55 passes for 993 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior playing beside Jamal Patterson, now a freshman at Stanford.

Ambles' skill-set impressed college coaches across the country at summer camps, and scholarship offers ensued in almost limitless numbers.