Kiffin happy with recruiting

In college basketball, the goal is getting to the Final Four. In college football recruiting, the goal is getting into the final five.

Most of the elite football prospects start with a dozen or more schools, then gradually whittle the total to the five they plan to visit officially. Thus, getting in a kid's final five is a significant accomplishment. If you make enough final fives, odds are you're going to sign a few of those elite prospects.

And that's why new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin is encouraged about the response he's getting on the recruiting trail these days.

"Even outside of the South, I would say 90 percent of the kids I've dealt with (say) we're in the top five because of who we are and what system they see coming in on offense and defense," he said recently. "I think there's a lot of energy and excitement about it right now, and I think it will continue to build as we add the rest of the staff.

"We're kind of hunting with a half-loaded gun right now. By the time we get back into recruiting in January we'll be fully loaded."

Based on graduation losses and other forms of attrition, Tennessee seems particularly needy at defensive tackle, running back, linebacker and offensive line this recruiting season. Still, Kiffin suggests he is much more focused on quality than quantity.

"I'm not as concerned about making sure we have a certain number," he said. "I'm concerned about getting good players. It doesn't do any good to hit your numbers, and then have a guy sit on your bench for four years. Let's get the best players we can get."

Apparently, Kiffin's recruiting philosophy is to sign as many quality players as possible, with very little consideration given to UT's need at their position.

"I'm not really worried about what's on our roster," he said. "I want to get the best players we can get. I'm not setting any limitation on this many linebackers or this many receivers. If we get six great receivers, then great. If there's only two great ones, then let's only get two. I'm not worried about what's on our roster, as far as what we're bringing in."

Since Tennessee's new defensive coordinator, Lane's father Monte Kiffin, is 68 years old, many observers assume Monte will do a lot of coaching and very little recruiting. His son dismisses that notion.

As Lane put it: "I don't have any doubt he'll be one of the best recruiters on our staff, if not the best."

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