OXFORD, Miss. — When Lane Kiffin was announced as the new head coach of the Rebels on December 7th, momentum exploded inside the Ole Miss football program. Fast forward a little over a month, and Coach Kiffin has almost finished putting together his entire on-the-field staff–a staff that has been lighting up the recruiting trail.
As of this writing, here are the Rebels’ current coaching staff hires (with links to their bios):
Offensive coordinator/Quarterbacks: Jeff Lebby
Offensive line: Randy Clements
Running backs: Kevin Smith
Tight ends: Joe Jon Finley
Wide receivers: As of this writing, reports are that former Ole Miss running backs coach Derrick Nix will be hired as wide receivers coach, replacing former WR coach Jacob Peeler. (First reported by Rebels247.)
Asst. Coach (co-defensive coordinator): D.J. Durkin
Asst. Coach (co-defensive coordinator): Chris Partridge
Special Teams Coordinator/defensive assistant: Blake Gideon
Defensive line: Today, reports surfaced that Ole Miss DL coach Freddie Roach is being hired for the same position with the New York Giants. No official release as of yet on this.
Defensive backs/cornerbacks: Unknown
With this new staff in place, there has been an emphasis on evaluating the talent remaining in the class of 2020 as well as that of the 2021-2023 classes. National Signing Day is February 5, 2020 for the Class of 2020 players.
New staff making waves with recruiting
Over the last ten days, Ole Miss has extended 19 offers to recruits across the 2020 and 2023 classes.
Coach Partridge has led the charge with eight offers going out. In the class of 2020, he is the lead recruiter of Vanderbilt safety commit Donovan Kaufman and four-star DL prospect Demon Clowney. Partridge was able to get both Clowney and Kaufman to set up official visits with the Rebels ahead of NSD in February.
In fact, Clowney is set to make his official visit to Ole Miss this weekend when the contact period begins on Friday, January the 17th. If Clowney likes what he sees, expect the talented 6-foot-4, 225-pound Maryland native to shut down his recruitment and enroll in class in Oxford to participate with the team during the spring.
Momentum is continuing to build for #OleMiss in their recruitment of four-star DE Demon Clowney.
There’s a possibility that Clowney shuts down his recruitment after his OV and early enrolls in Oxford.
He’s got a high ceiling with the flexibility to play at OLB if called upon. https://t.co/dxLOphW6jm
— Derrell Hart Jr. (@Derrell_PharmD) January 10, 2020
Coach Smith, too, is doing a great job of getting players to schedule an official visit to Ole Miss. He has been diligent in his efforts to get four-star RB Henry Parrish on campus, building a good relationship with the talented prospect while at FAU with Coach Kiffin.
Smith was able to bring the 5-foot-10, 183-pound player for an official visit to Boca Raton back in October, so Parrish’s visit to Oxford on the 31st will be his second one with Smith and Kiffin, which hopefully increases the Rebels’ odds of landing the coveted running back.
#OleMiss makes the Top 4 for four-star RB Henry Parrish.
The 5-foot-10, 183-pound athlete has a good relationship with RB coach Kevin Smith.
Parrish is expected to be on campus for an official visit on January 31st.
South Carolina, Pitt, and Oregon round out his Top 4. https://t.co/lvWqZ58ogi
— Derrell Hart Jr. (@Derrell_PharmD) January 11, 2020
In fact, this past Friday, Parrish used his Instagram to indicate he will make an announcement sometime next week on which school he will attend, so the Rebels could possibly be getting some good news earlier than expected. However, if Parrish announces elsewhere next week, Ole Miss will most likely have to battle the Gamecocks for his signature. If that were to happen, him keeping his official visit to Ole Miss will be key for the Rebels to get his signature come signing day.
Coach Smith and newly hired offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby have positioned the Rebels into the Top 4 for four-star wide receiver Leonard Manuel out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound WR committed to Florida; however, he elected to wait until February to sign. Manuel would add another wide receiver to the Rebels’ arsenal, bringing a bigger frame that could help him against the larger defensive backs in the SEC.
Stranahan @StranFootball & @GatorsFB 2020 commit 4 ⭐️ WR Leonard Manuel names his top 4 of UF, Oregon, Baylor & Ole Miss. Manuel, a mid year transfer from Vanguard, had 645 yards & 9 TD. A 6’5 beast w/ a basketball background, he is one of the top available prospects for February https://t.co/q7A6q9e8gH
— The Crib South Florida (@TheCribSouthFLA) January 8, 2020
Another new Ole Miss coach who hit the ground running is Blake Gideon. He extended an offer to Edric Whitley earlier this month. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound cornerback from Pflugerville, Texas also has an official visit scheduled to Miami, but Coach Gideon’s Texas connections could end up proving to be the difference-maker in getting Whitley to sign with the Rebels on NSD.
•5 catches allowed for a total of less than 30 yards all season
•0 TDs allowed
•15+ pass breakups
•1FR Returned for a TD
•700+ total return yards
•2 returns for TDs
•1st team All District
•1st team All Cen-Texhttps://t.co/XFFUjV2DY9
— THEEDRICWHITLEY🦹🏽♂️ (@Edric_Whitley) January 2, 2020
Finally, all eyes in the class of 2020 are on four-star DL McKinnley Jackson. Coach Roach has been recruiting Jackson to Ole Miss for some time, but it remains to be seen if the Rebels can land the coveted defensive lineman–especially if Coach Roach is indeed headed to the NFL.
Currently, Jackson has a scheduled visit to Ole Miss set for the 24th, but it is worth noting LSU and Texas A&M will also get official visits leading up to NSD. Jackson, a one time LSU commit, could end up back with the Tigers if things go well during his visit to Baton Rouge. A&M will be a major factor for the George County native as he has already made at least three other trips to College Station throughout his recruitment. With the rumored departure of Coach Roach, the picture gets a little murkier; however, don’t expect the Rebels to go down without a fight for such a talented player.
Kiffin and staff are definitely looking to shore up the defensive line after losing three very impactful seniors in Benito Jones, Austrian Robinson, and Josiah Coatney.
Regardless of who signs with Ole Miss on NSD, Kiffin and staff continue to do a tremendous job of rounding out the Class of 2020 while also looking ahead to the future.
In fact, speaking of the future, 2021 QB Colten Gauthier will take an unofficial visit to Ole Miss on February 1st. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound signal caller has a great relationship with Coach Lebby and could end up shutting down his recruitment early if things go well for the rising senior.
The future is bright in Oxford and it’s just getting started! Hotty Toddy!