Ole Miss’ Lane and Juice Kiffin Make Quite a Recruiting Team for the Rebels
OXFORD, Miss. – Before any member of the Ole Miss athletic staff is allowed to speak to a possible recruit, they must read an NCAA manual to ensure they know the rules.
The NCAA might need to reprint that manual for canines. The most famous recruiter at Ole Miss these days might be a Labrador retriever.
Juice, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin’s dog, has turned into both a recruiting tool and an internet sensation — although that was not the plan when the puppy joined the Kiffin household.
“It may seem like this is planned….and this was not. It looks pretty brilliant, actually, using the dog as a recruiting tool. College Gameday’s already been here for a story on that down the line. It has its Twitter and Juice Fest and all this. This was just my dog wanting followers, which I didn’t really want.”
Lane Kiffin on the Juice phenomenon
‘Juice Fest,’ as the last weekend of summer visits for high school players to Oxford was known, was a tremendous success. Ole Miss got commitments from some highly sought-after prospects. Tight end Jayvontay Conner, edge rusher Neeo Avery and defensive lineman Jamarious Brown all pledged to play in Oxford.
I got us 3 commits and maybe more to come what else do you want? https://t.co/lP5iaMohFN
— Juice Kiffin (@JuiceKiffin) July 30, 2022
— Rodrick Seals (@djbigrodmem10) July 31, 2022
New players fitting in
Juice, named for a high-energy attitude, is new to Oxford like many of the players who started training camp Wednesday.
According to Kiffin, both the dog and the many new players are having the same experience – learning how to blend into a situation where others have been for years.
“Things happen and you probably don’t know why they happen with different things,” Kiffin explained.
“You probably don’t think that Juice would make me coach better, but he’s at Wildrose Kennel now. Today’s the third day. I don’t know how to train a dog. I don’t really do what they tell me to do. Juice is not really well behaved right now. Wildrose came and got him. He’s on day three of training camp. They’ll come get him in the morning and take him out. They give me a list of notes of this is what he does well, this is what he did today, and actually video the things.”
Lane Kiffin on Juice attending his own ‘training camp’
That is the same kind of evaluation Kiffin and his staff will be doing during training camp.
“Actually this morning when meeting about it (with the kennel), there’s so many similarities here to buying in and bringing people in to the culture because they’ll call me saying, ‘We’re bringing him (Juice) in.’ All of the sudden he’s around these other dogs and how well they’re training has to do with a lot of the training with him, and him not being distracted by all the other things,” Kiffin said.
“He’s (Juice) going through the same thing we’re going through,” Kiffin continued. “We’re bringing people into the organization with transfers in. They’ve got to buy in. Here’s a puppy that needs to be taken in over there with all these other dogs that have been training the whole time, and Juice isn’t listening to what he needs to be doing. I kind of feel like that’s some of our transfers right now.”
Welcoming the transfers
Ole Miss is welcoming more than a dozen transfers including quarterback Jaxson Dart, tight end Michael Trigg and linebacker Troy Brown, to name. few.
And like a newcomer to the pack, these Rebels are being accepted by the returning players. That is something Kiffin was not sure would happen when it came to Juice’s arrival to his new family.
“I did not think that was going to happen I think probably like the typical – kid gets the puppy, loves the puppy non-stop and then all of a sudden you’re taking care of it and that’s what happened this summer,” Kiffin said. “And now that Juice isn’t quite so cute, she (Kiffin’s daughter) doesn’t want to take him anywhere anymore, so the dog actually sleeps with me now and kind of goes everywhere with me, so kind of a typical story.”
Ole Miss fans are hoping a repeat of last year’s ten-win season will become a typical story for the Rebels.
And it all starts now in August – during the dog days of summer.
(Feature image credit: Juice Kiffin’s Twitter)
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.