March 9, 2010

Kiffin offers top Tennessee lineman

When Lane Kiffin left Tennessee, he left behind a house, some furniture and a whole lot of angry Volunteer fans.

Nevertheless, Kiffin returned to the Volunteer State by mailing a scholarship offer to Nashville (Tenn.) offensive tackle Antonio Richardson.

"I got an offer from USC last week," Richardson said. "I wasn't surprised because the coaching staff (at USC) was the coaching staff that recruited me at Tennessee. So I wasn't that surprised, I was actually waiting to see if they were going to offer.

"I took it as an honor because USC, that's big time out there. I will strongly be considering USC."

Richardson is familiar with the Trojan coaching staff because Kiffin and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron targeted the Rivals 250 Watch List selection early on while at Tennessee.

"They're actually looking at me for both defense and offense," Richardson said. "Defense used to be my main thing but I'll play either one. I think that in college, I'll end up being an offensive tackle.

"I met (Kiffin) a couple of times but I didn't get to really know them that deep. But I like the coaching staff with Coach Orgeron and all those guys. I like their energy and things like that. I didn't really get to know them that well but I really like who they are and what they represent."

Like everyone in Tennessee, the news that Kiffin left unexpectedly for USC came as a surprise for Richardson. But the 6-foot-6, 310-pound tackle understands the reasoning.

"It was a shock," he said. "When I heard it, I was just really shocked. At first I didn't believe it. But his whole reason for leaving was understandable. That was his dream job and he's from the west coast. He's in more of his comfort zone there and that's understandable. I can't be mad at him for that."

Although Richardson is unsure if he will visit USC for one of the Trojans' summer camps, a visit to Southern California later on is definitely in the cards.

"I have family in California and my dad lived in California for five years," he said. "As far as USC goes, what I basically know about them is having a football tradition and being a football powerhouse.

"I probably will visit them, most likely in the fall."

As one of the top lineman in the south, Richardson is adjusting to the wild ride of the recruiting process. Schools such as Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Tennessee have also offered but the Nashville product is in no rush to pick a school.

"I'll probably wait until the last minute to make my decision," Richardson said. "It's been really crazy because I'm just a junior going into my senior year. It's a lot. I'm really thankful because my hard work paid off. I always pray to god that this would happen one day and it has.

"The recruiting process gets a little crazy every now and then because that's just how it is. I have 12 offers now and all the letters, boxes of mail, and people wanting you to visit… it's a lot but I'm thankful for it."

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