January 6, 2010

Ambles finds motivation in stars

SAN ANTONIO -- In short order this week in practices for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Markeith Ambles has emerged as among the most dynamic playmakers.

The athletic wideout has impressed coaches, fellow all-stars and onlookers alike with a dazzling array of catches, fluid maneuvers and fearless competition.

With "I can do all things through Jesus Christ" scribbled atop his cleats and an orange-and-white mouthpiece, Ambles has approached the national showcase event with an almost-consuming purpose.

"They're always talking about how for some reason, I can't be a five-star. So I just came out here to do me and just try to do the best I can and to get a fifth star or whatever," said Ambles, who posted consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons for Henry County (Ga.) High School. "I just try to go against everybody, you know? I like to win, and I'm not trying to lose any one-on-ones. So I'm just trying to be the best."

Adding the scripture-based motivation has been a new element for the 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound Ambles.

"I started it not too long ago," Ambles explained. "I just feel like whenever I do that, it makes me feel better and that I'm playing for the right thing."

His play hasn't gone unnoticed by Ambles' peers.

"He's a hell of an athlete," four-star safety Ahmad Dixon said of Ambles, whom he has known since the two met at a Hawaii-Mainland event.

Standing on the sideline inside the Alamo Dome Wednesday afternoon, Ambles nonchalantly showcased that athleticism almost on a whim. He took one step and executed a flawless backflip.

"Everybody was flipping. I learned how to do that not too long ago, too. So I hit a little flip," Ambles said. "It's just fears, whether you think you're going to fall. But when you just do it, you do it. I nailed it the first time."

Now Ambles is nailing his performances among the nation's best here in the Alamo City. He credits a new emphasis on the mental aspects of his training.

"The way to get my game better, the way I'm working at it. And things I do outside of the season," Ambles explained. "My work ethic and different type of training before I got here so I can go ahead and get that fifth star.

"A hundred percent motivated. I'm grinding every day."

Likewise, Ambles is bonding with his future Volunteers teammates - Jacques Smith and Michael Palardy - and occasionally trying to solicit for some additional ones.

"We talk about that (helping set a foundation for the Vols under Lane Kiffin), and I'm holding for (Palardy on kicks) now," said Ambles, who didn't know Palardy was the kicker who would join him in Knoxville until 48 hours ago. "He was like, 'You ain't gotta hold for me next year' because I didn't really want to do it. I'm the only one that can hold. But me and Jacques have been talking a lot, too.

"I've been talking to some guys, but most of the top guys, they're so secretive about stuff and you can't really get anything out of them. They just say they talk to the (UT) coaches and stuff."

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