NSD 2023: Lane Kiffin excited for new freshman and transfer class; discusses challenges in recruiting with portal, NIL
OXFORD, Miss. – National Signing Day 2023 has come, and head coach Lane Kiffin expressed his excitement for over thirty freshmen and transfers who have signed with the Rebels for the 2023 season.
“We did add some guys today that add to the previous 12 high school and kids that were signed, so we are excited about that. This is the first time having the majority of the portal guys able to talk about that. We added a lot of spots there.”
Coach Lane Kiffin
The list of new Rebels joining the team for spring practice features 13 Division I transfers that On3 currently ranks as the No. 3 class in the team transfer rankings. Ole Miss claimed four of the top 50 available transfers, according to On3. The outlet also has Ole Miss listed as No. 22 overall in the nation at this point.
Changes in way recruiting is done
Kiffin said that there have been many changes in the way recruiting — especially in the transfer portal — is handled due to NIL, and it has posed many challenges that did not exist before NIL went into effect back in 2021.
“Much like the year before, we had much more significant players come in than go out through the portal,” Kiffin said at his NSD press conference.
“I think that is really the challenge now. It is kind of like the NFL [and] free agency. We are a professional sport without a system in place to handle these kids being treated as professionals as far as them being paid, which is awesome.”
Coach Lane Kiffin
Kiffin also expressed just how difficult it is to balance the transfer portal with recruiting a new freshmen class, the latter of which has been overshadowed by the hype of the transfer portal.
“It’s great to sign high school kids, but what are the percentages that you are going to keep those kids now?” Kiffin said. “As you see around the country, if they don’t play good, they leave because they want to go play somewhere, and if they play good, they go because they get bought to go make more money somewhere.”
The importance of recruiting players to stay is just as important now as recruiting players from elsewhere, and Kiffin felt that him and his staff had to deal with this as well.
“When [someone] plays good, you have to recruit him to stay. When a window closes, and we don’t lose significant players, we are celebrating keeping our own players that weren’t even in the portal.”
Coach Lane Kiffin
Kiffin mentioned star running back Quinshon Judkins a few times during his press conference as an example when talking about the challenges of keeping a high-caliber player from leaving.
Depth in the QB Room
One trending topic from Kiffin’s transfer portal class was the explosion of the quarterback room. Spencer Sanders, a four-year starter for Oklahoma State, and Walker Howard, a five-star transfer from LSU, have joined Jaxson Dart, creating what should be a fun quarterback battle for Kiffin’s team.
“I am very excited about the quarterback room. I think Jaxson did a lot of great things last year. We are very excited about him continuing that. We were able to add a veteran quarterback [Sanders] and a really young one [Howard]. The quarterback room is dramatically in a much better position than it was a year ago.”
Coach Lane Kiffin on the Rebels’ QB room
Kiffin said that the improvement at the quarterback position is what they look for in every position group when revamping the entire roster every year.
Kiffin praises new defensive coordinator
Along with his new transfer portal signings, Kiffin also signed a new defensive coordinator in Pete Golding. The hiring of the former-Alabama defensive coordinator excites Kiffin, who put the hiring into National Signing Day terms.
“That is as five-star as you can get,” Kiffin said. “This is a great coach that everyone who’s worked with him has always said was brilliant and upcoming. We are really excited for him and his family to be here. He will really help us not just on defense, but he has been a phenomenal recruiter, too.”
Kiffin, Golding, and the rest of the Ole Miss staff will look to continue to bolster the signing class before the regular signing period ends on April 1.
Trevor is a senior at Ole Miss pursuing a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Sports Communication and Promotion. He has previous experience covering sports for another site, including a variety of Ole Miss sports. Growing up in New Orleans, La., he has the Pelicans and Saints running through his blood. He also grew up in an LSU family, but his love for Ole Miss continues to grow. Trevor hopes to cover sports back in his hometown after college. Laissez les bons temps rouler!