The last 10 years of recruiting has seen the installment of an early signing period, official visit reform and a host of controversies both memorable and otherwise. As Rivals.com continues its look back on the last decade, we dive into some trends and headlines that dominated the recruiting conversation during the 2010 cycle.
TENNESSEE AND USC WERE FIGHTING OVER LANE KIFFIN AND HIS RECRUITS
Tennessee fans once participated in an on-campus riot of sorts because Lane Kiffin left the program. That’s not somebody’s fever dream. It’s a real thing that took place in the real world a decade ago.
A young coach that looked destined for stardom in the college ranks, Kiffin, 35-years old at the end of 2009, had landed the nation’s No. 1 recruit in Bryce Brown in his first class before putting together a promising 7-6 debut season in Knoxville. In December 2010, he looked poised to welcome in another star-studded recruiting haul and take the next step toward returning Tennessee to relevance. Functioning as the head coach at FAU was not in the plans.
Taking over for Pete Carroll at USC was, however. And the night Kiffin decided to resign from his post in Knoxville to accept the gig, all hell broke loose. You can find an oral history of the chaos here.
The recruiting aftermath is what really stuck in the sides of Vols fans, however, as Kiffin’s staff advised UT’s midterm enrollees to avoid going to class in an effort to preserve their eligibility if they chose to accompany Kiffin to Los Angeles. In the end the polarizing coach flipped a couple of the Vols’ commits and retained the Trojans’ existing haul to land the country’s top class at USC.
Tennessee went on to hire Derek Dooley … then, Butch Jones … then, Jeremy Pruitt … you get the point. Meanwhile, USC eventually unceremoniously fired Kiffin on an airport tarmac, proving that not every feud has a winner.
ONE OF RIVALS.COM’S BIGGEST RECRUITING BUSTS SAT ATOP THE PLAYER RANKINGS
For every highly rated high school prospect that has won the Heisman trophy or become a superstar in the NFL, there’s one that didn’t meet expectations.
At this time a decade ago, one of the Rivals.com’s most notorious No. 1 sat atop the rankings. The top-ranked prospect in the class of 2010, Ronald Powell, was a massive linebacker out of California that seized the top spot in the cycles final weeks. He put up eye-popping stats his senior year and was named the MVP of the Army All-American Bowl. He chose Florida over USC and looked to be a can’t-miss prospect. Until he missed … by a lot.
Powell was hampered by two knee injuries in Gainesville, which limited him to just 35 career games. Eventually, the former No. 1 prospect in the country was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. As a pro, Powell recorded just two career tackles. Nobody could have predicted the knee problems, but fairly or not, the lofty ranking remains a black spot on our record.