When Lane Kiffin was hired as the head coach at Tennessee, among his first statements to the press was that he was headed to Memphis to recruit the best player in the state.
That player was Marlon Brown, who wrapped up his third day of practice Thursday with Georgia.
"I felt kind of nervous. But I felt kind of special at the same time," Brown said. "When I was a little kid I grew up a Tennessee fan."
But as history was to prove, things didn't quite work out for the Vols.
While Kiffin was trying to forge his relationship with Brown and his grandmother Calvary Malone, Georgia head coach Mark Richt - along with assistants Stacy Searels and Tony Ball - were doing the same.
"She loved Coach Searels, Coach Richt and Coach Ball," Brown said. "She was a huge influence, but she was not the reason I signed with Georgia."
Kiffin appeared to disagree during his Signing Day press conference when he made a comment that caused its share of controversy.
"Every [in-state] kid that we offered that we continued to recruit through this process ... we were able to sign except Marlon," Kiffin said. "We wish Marlon the best of luck. But Marlon called and said that he loved it here, but his grandmother wouldn't let him come. So I don't know what you do about that."
Richt was asked his view of Brown's grandmother. Obviously, he had a slightly different take.
"She is just a wonderful lady. Certainly when grandmothers are raising their grand children as the main caretaker it's a wonderful ting and I give her a lot of credit," Richt said. "But she is a very tough woman. She's a very intelligent, a disciplinarian. Marlon's the way he is because of her. He has the utmost respect for her and he should."
Brown said his grandmother's feeling for Richt and his staff were the reasons she began to favor the Bulldogs.
"They were honest and told her everything about my academics, my playing time and everything," Brown said. "She really liked Coach Richt. She knew he was a Godly man. She's a very Godly woman so she loved that about him."
Although Brown said his grandmother was not the main reason he decided to sign with Georgia, her influence was obviously felt.
"Even at the end of the recruiting process when she didn't like the way things were handled she jumped right in and took care of business. She's a no-nonsense gal, I'd say," Richt said. "At the very end of the last day (Signing Day), once he had made his decision, she felt it should be a happy day for him and there people who were trying to confuse him - that would be a good word," Richt said. "It's like a, people say that
well, I won't say it. I've got to watch what I say. People will make a bigger deal than it is."
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