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Ole Miss assistant coaches help haul in talented Landsharks

Ole Miss assistant coaches help haul in talented Landsharks

OXFORD, Miss. — Some head football coaches are the “x’s and o’s” guys in their program, and some keep their hands in the mix of their team’s offensive and defensive schemes. But one of the most important aspects of a head coach’s responsibilities is the ability to delegate to his assistant coaches. That comes in many varieties, but one of the most important ones is in recruiting.

Needing help on the defensive side of the football during this recruiting cycle, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin relied heavily on his defensive coaches to handle many of those crucial tasks.

One of those coaches is Deke Adams. The Rebels’ defensive line coach helped land junior college defensive linemen Isaiah Iton and Jamond Gordon who will immediately shore up the Landsharks’ front in 2021.

Adams’ contribution did not escape the attention of Kiffin.

“(Adams) did a really good job,” Kiffin said. “So, and a huge need (was) DBs, but D-line was number one. You know, there’s been a struggle here in the last few years. And, when we got here, we saw that lack of depth there, so big need for us and something that was hard to address in the first class because we got here so late.”

Adams expects Iton can contribute right away.

“Isaiah, he’s an older kid that can actually be here in January,” Adams said.

He’s a big, physical kid. Twitchy. He brings a lot of maturity to the room. He’s an older kid as well, so it’s going to be fun adding him to what we have already and just trying to make us better.

Deke Adams on Isaiah Iton

Adams believes Gordon will bring leadership to his defensive group.

“Jamond, he’s a big, strong kid,” Adams said. “We need some, I guess, maturity in the room, some older guys. We’re really young inside, and, I mean, Jamond’s just a great kid, man, and he’s a big, physical player. He’s strong, he does a lot of good things. We’re just excited to get him here.”

Iton and Gordon will not be the only help on the way for the Ole Miss defense. The Rebels signed two players from Philadelphia. That is Philadelphia, Penn., not Mississippi. That duo got to Oxford with the help of Chris Partridge, the Ole Miss co-defensive coordinator who played his college football in the Keystone State.

The twice-honored recruiter of the year helped bring Taleeq Robbins and Tysheem Johnson from the City of Brotherly Love to Lafayette County. Robbins’ size and athleticism will be bringing more immediate benefits to the Landsharks.

“Taleeq, another guy from the Northeast, he’s from Philly,” Partridge said.

You know, Taleeq was a basketball player growing up, so really, really athletic young man. Now he’s up to 300 pounds, so he’s going to be really disruptive inside. Has great hands, has natural pass-rush ability. We’re excited about him. When he polishes his game, he’ll be a heck of an interior player bringing his athleticism.

Chris Partridge on Taleeq Robbins

While those three will provide depth to the defensive front, Johnson will join the Ole Miss secondary, but can also contribute on offense.

“He brings some Northeast toughness to start, but he’s a dynamic athlete,” Partridge said.

“‘Sheem’s been on top of our board since the beginning. Plays all over the field in high school. Really good with the ball in his hands, but we’re going to start him out on defense. He’s going to play some safety for us, move around the field in the secondary, do some return stuff. But hopefully we get him on offense, get the ball in his hands a little bit, too, said Partridge.

He’s got elite short-area quickness. He’s explosive. He’ll hit ‘ya, he’ll smack ‘ya. Great ball skills. Yeah, he’s a good talent.

Chris Partridge on Tysheem Johnson 

Ole Miss would not have that talent if not for the recruiting abilities of Partridge, Adams and the rest of the Rebels’ coaching staff.

Considering the restrictions the coaches had to deal with like COVID-19 and no on-campus nor in-home visits, the success of the signing class is even more impressive. That is something that did not escape the attention of their boss.

“This class will be a lot better, like we said it would be, even with the COVID issues,” Kiffin said. “I’m just proud of our assistant coaches. It hasn’t been easy.”

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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