Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin building impressive tight end corps
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has always been regarded as an outstanding football coach and offensive guru, but he can also be called a “tight end whisperer,” as he continues to recruit and coach top-notch players at the position.
Kiffin has a strong recent history of having talented tight ends on his roster, and he continued that trend Sunday when Jayvontay Conner became the most recent commitment to the Rebels.
— Jayvontay Conner🎬 (@ConnerJayvontay) July 31, 2022
“What ultimately made me choose Ole Miss is definitely the relationship I built with the coaches there and the fact that they have a lot of fun doing what they do.”
Jayvontay Conner on committing to Ole Miss
Conner joins edge rusher Jamarious Brown and defensive end Neeo Avery who also gave their pledges to Ole Miss over the weekend.
Conner, who is getting ready to start his senior season at East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, N.C., is a three-star recruit with good size at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds. Ole Miss beat out Florida State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, A&M, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Oregon and others for Conner’s services.
Conner will benefit from Kiffin’s offense that has had success recently in getting tight ends to the National Football League.
Kiffin’s former tight ends
Kiffin’s first tight end at Ole Miss, Kenny Yeboah, is now playing with the New York Jets.
— Derrell Hart Jr., Pharm.D. (@Derrell_PharmD) August 28, 2021
Kiffin’s last tight end at Florida Atlantic, Harrison Bryant, won the 2019 John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end and now plays for the Cleveland Browns.
Most REC TD by a Rookie TE in Cleveland #Browns history:
1. 2017 David Njoku (4)
T2. 2020 Harrison Bryant, 1987 Derek Tennell, 1983 Harry Holt, 1975 Oscar Roan & 1966 Milt Morin (3) pic.twitter.com/CLxYCWaJTC
— Best of Pro Sports (@pro_sports_best) July 25, 2022
Kiffin’s current tight ends
Speaking of the Mackey Award, recent USC transfer Michael Trigg is on the award’s watch list this season.
USC freshman tight end Michael Trigg is a BEAST. 😳 pic.twitter.com/ZVQAGVjziw
— CFB Kings (@CFBKings) August 19, 2021
Trigg, who arrived in the spring from Southern Cal, is a part of an impressive tight end room in Oxford. He joins junior Casey Kelly who has been a mainstay in the tight end room, along with senior Jonathan Hess, and fellow transfers D.J. Ruff and Salathiel Hemphill.
Trigg is not the only SEC tight end on the Mackey Watch List. Of the 13 listed, ten play in the conference.
Baby Swag Kelly is 🔥! Corral’s pass complete to Casey Kelly for the Ole Miss TD!! Rebels lead, 13-3. pic.twitter.com/UWzgQdkPnJ
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) January 2, 2021
Sophomore Matt Ware is also vying for playing time with freshmen Kyirin Heath, Trace Campbell and Hudson Wolfe. Wolfe was a highly regarded signee a season ago but redshirted his freshman year due to injury.
The tight end position could be highlighted in new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, Jr.’s offense. In the spring’s Grove Bowl, Trigg caught seven passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns. No Ole Miss tight end has ever caught three touchdowns in a game.
Rebel legends at tight end
If any assault on the record book is mounted, the current Rebels will be looking to pass Evan Engram in most statistical categories. Engram, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars after spending five seasons with the New York Giants, leads all Ole Miss tight ends (sixth overall) with 162 career receptions, 2,320 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Evan Engram was one of the SEC’s best receiving TEs ever
– 162 catches, 2,320 yards, 15 TDs
– 2x First Team All-SEC (2014, 2016)
– First Team All-American (2016)#OleMiss #HottyToddy @eazyengram pic.twitter.com/JEPT2IP936
— SEC Football Vids (@SECFootballVids) May 31, 2020
The new Rebels’ tight ends have an impressive lineage in which to follow. Engram is still in the NFL as are Dawson Knox (Buffalo) and Yeboah.
— BillsFanMafia (@716BuffaloFan_) July 27, 2022
Two Ole Miss tight ends, Wesley Walls and Barney Poole are members of the College Football Hall of Fame.
The first chance Trigg and Company will have to take the field comes Sept. 3 when Troy visits Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
(Feature image credit of Michael Trigg: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
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.