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December 31, 2008

Stokes exploring his options

SAN ANTONIO - Several of the U.S. Army All-Americans traveled to San Antonio with a couple different collegiate hats in their bag, ready to declare their final destination on Saturday during the game. For Philadelphia (PA) wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes that announcement will have to wait.

"Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to announce that way," commented Stokes. "It could have been nice but things didn't permit itself that way."

Though the Rivals.com ranked No. 13 wideout in the country gave his verbal declaration to Tennessee last April, recent events have caused Stokes to reevaluate his current situation.

"Right now I'm still committed but with the whole coaching change, I'm being smart about the situation and have brought some other colleges back into the mix," Stokes said.

When Phillip Fulmer was let go by the Volunteers, Stokes explained that it's possible the Volunteers let go of his commitment as well.

"I was definitely upset because I had built a relationship with Coach Fulmer and his staff," Stokes said. "He really made me feel good about my decision, but it's a business and you have to move on. So I'm definitely going to take some more looks and then make the best decision for my future."

Stokes went on his official visit to Rocky Top in September and new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin has already used his one in-home visit with the Northeast high school senior.

"He's a good coach. He seems like he's going to come help change things around," Stokes said.

While the question still remains whether Stokes will be around to witness those changes in Knoxville, he's still keeping his status as a current commitment for the Vols.

"I don't want to burn any bridges. I don't want to rush or make any hasty decisions just yet," he said. "I have about a month till signing day. They're still in the mix. There are a few other colleges in there now just to make sure I'm making the right decision. I'm not going to change my status yet."

Those schools still in the mix include Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma.

"I'm going to try to knock out three after this game. I wanted to do four but that might be pushing it," Stokes said.

Stokes confirmed that he will definitely visit both Michigan and Illinois in January.

"Illinois was always in the mix even before I committed," Stokes said. "They've always been one of my top three schools.

"I've been building a relationship with Michigan over the past few months. It seems like a good situation. I know that they have a lot of talent coming in and I feel like I could help turn the program around if I decided to go there."

Stokes is uncertain as to which program will take the final visit slot, but he is positive he will go on all three trips. That's one lesson he's learned so far through his recruiting process.

"I thought I was going to be done after Tennessee but things happen," he said. "I'm for sure going to take three."


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