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Lane Kiffin adds NFL vet with in-state ties

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Ole Miss announced Lane Kiffin as its next head football coach, but who will join him?

With the changing of the guard at the highest level, he is granted the autonomy to bring in his desired hires at both offensive and defensive coordinator, as well as each position coach.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As reports come in and openings are filled, we will update this post accordingly. Follow along for updates and analysis!

Head Coach

Lane Kiffin

Offensive coordinator

Rich Rodriguez: Jeff Lebby

Jeff Lebby was officially announced as offensive coordinator.

Lebby, 34, most recently served in the same role at UCF under Josh Huepel. His offenses have been wonderful in Orlando, guiding the Knights in 2018 to its second straight undefeated regular season, an AAC title, and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. In the 2019 season with a true freshman, his offense ranked 13th nationally per SP+.

Prior to his time with the Knights, he served in various offensive roles at Baylor. In five seasons as the running backs coach, his group produced five 1,000-yard rushers and ranked second in the nation in 2015.

Defensive coordinator

Mike MacIntyre: D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge

As Kiffin continues to assemble his first staff, Ole Miss announced the hiring of assistant coaches D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge, who are expected to handle co-defensive coordinator duties.

Partridge, 39, has been with the Michigan coaching staff since 2015, and is considered one of if not the top recruiter in the nation, helping land some of the Wolverines’ biggest names over the past few years— including five-star defensive end Rashan Gary, five-star safety Daxton Hill, and five-star defensive tackle Chris Hinton.

Highly sought after nationwide, Partridge has received multiple offers to leave Ann Arbor over the last few years, and turned down a position at Alabama after the 2017 season.

Durkin, 41, is expected to join Partridge as the play-caller of the duo, and comes to Oxford after a rise through the ranks that culminated with a two-year stint as the head coach of Maryland. Having served under big names like Urban Myer, Jim Harbaugh, Will Muschamp in the past, and he is currently a consultant for Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons.

Durkin’s two defenses in Gainesville and his quick stop in Ann Arbor finished 12th, 6th, and 10th respectively, per Bill Connelly and SP+ analytics. At Florida, Durkin’s defense allowed just 4.45 yards per play and 329 yards per game in 2014. While in the DC role at Michigan in 2015, the Wolverines held opponents to 17.2 points per game and had nine defensive All-Big Ten honorees. In his first season at the helm of Maryland, he doubled the teams’ win total and earned a bowl berth out of the gate.

Like Partridge, Durkin also has a reputation as a strong recruiter, and he was named Rivals.com’s 2012 Recruiter of the Year when he signed five-stars D.J. Humphries and Jonathan Bullard and four-stars Brian Poole, Jessamen Dunker, and Jeremi Powell.

We buried the lede a bit here, but we know about Durkin’s past and we aren’t playing dumb thinking you do not. Kiffin is tasked with hiring the best coaches to fill out his staff that he thinks gives Ole Miss the best chance to win. Athletic Director Keith Carter released a statement stating that they conducted a thorough background check on him and talked with several people that have worked in close contact with him.

Running backs coach

Derrick Nix: Kevin Smith

As announced in Kiffin’s introductory press conference, Smith will be the second confirmed hire for the 2020 staff. The former UCF standout played five seasons with the Detroit Lions, and ranks third on the all-time list for most rushing yards in a single season, behind only Barry Sanders and Melvin Gordon. It is safe to say that he knows the position.

Smith has served in the same role at FAU since 2017, and has been credited for bringing a “pro mindset” to practice and preparation. Under his tutelage, current Buffalo Bills rookie Devin Singletary broke the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns in a season, and was named Conference USA’s MVP in 2017. That same year, Smith’s backfield ran for an average of 285.3 yards per game, good for sixth best in the nation.

Wide receivers coach

Jacob Peeler: Derrick Nix

In a bit of a puzzling move, Kiffin re-hired the former running backs coach to now head up another room down the hall, per Yancy Porter of the Ole Miss Spirit. Nix, 39, continues to avoid any and every landmine, surviving three different staff changes in Oxford. He will start his 13th season at Ole Miss as the new wide receivers coach and will be expected to hit the ground running in the 2021 class to recruit the in-state crop of receivers within the Magnolia State.

Five of the top-10 players in the state in next year’s class are receivers and Nix, an assistant noted for his connections within the Hospitality State, needs to prove his worth to get Kiffin and Lebby’s offense some weapons on the outside.

Tight ends coach

Calvin Magee: Joe Jon Finley

Joe Jon Finley is leaving Texas A&M for the same role at Ole Miss. The Rebels’ soon-to-be newest staffer certainly has a type when he’s looking for a tight end and he seems to be able to close when he has the opportunity. Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam is poised to break the NFL combine much like DK Metcalf did a year ago and Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer, a former Ole Miss target in the 2019 class, made several Freshman All-America lists this season.

Finley is a respected name in coaching circles in the state of Texas and is just another feather in Kiffin’s cap when it comes to recruiting the landmass that is one of the hottest recruiting territories.

The old adage is “just hire a recruiter” for most if not all of the offensive positions on a staff, but Finley, a former three-time All-Big 12 recipient at Oklahoma, has been there done that. He’s played at the power 5 and NFL level and has a proven track record on the recruiting trail. Just another young, up-and-coming coach that is making his way to Oxford.

Offensive line coach

Jack Bicknell: Randy Clements

Randy Clements, 53, will join the Ole Miss staff to coach the offensive line, after coaching the same position at Florida State this past season. Clements will be reunited with Lebby, with whom he coached alongside at Baylor and Southeastern, and has been known to join his players in the weight room for a lift after practice— an approach that speaks for itself.

In his three decades of experience with the position, Clements has coached numerous All-Americans, consistent all-conference players in the Big 12, ACC and AAC, and the Big 12’s Offensive Lineman of the Year for four consecutive seasons from 2012-15 while at Baylor. Prior to his most recent stop with the Seminoles, his group set the tone for a Houston offense that averaged 43.9 points per game, ranking fifth in the nation, and 512.3 yards of total offense, the seventh-highest total in FBS in 2018.

Big Uglies lead the way!

Defensive line coach

Freddie Roach: To be decided

SPECULATION

After reports that Roach would be leaving to join the New York Giants staff, it was released by the university that he would be staying put in Oxford.

Secondary coach

Charles Clark: Terrell Buckley

SPECULATION

Kiffin has added former Mississippi State safeties coach and 13-year NFL veteran Terrell Buckley, as first reported by Rebel Grove’s Neal McCready. The Florida State alum and Jim Thorpe Award winner will seemingly put his Magnolia State connections to use for Ole Miss and should give Kiffin’s staff a boost for any elite prospects in Mississippi.

The Pascagoula, Miss. native finished his pro career with 50 interceptions and a Super Bowl ring. After his career was over, he began his coaching career with stops at Florida State, Akron, Louisville, and most recently Mississippi State with Dan Mullen and Joe Moorhead.

Buckley is a well-respected technician with years of experience recruiting and an NFL resume to point to. This is a solid get for Kiffin and Co.

Inside linebackers coach

Jeff Koonz: To be decided

Koonz has been told he will not be retained, per Red Cup sources. He has since been hired by West Virginia as their inside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, per Keenan Cummings.

Outside linebackers coach

Tyrone Nix: To be decided

Nix has been told he will not be retained, per Red Cup sources.

Special teams coach

Chris Rippon: Blake Gideon

Blake Gideon will fill the open position at Ole Miss. Gideon, 30, began his coaching career in the SEC at Florida, and most recently served in the special teams role under Dana Holgorsen at Houston, where he did an impressive job.

The former Texas Longhorn safety started all 52 games during his time in Austin and was said by teammates to have been a “coach on the field.”

Strength and conditioning coach

Paul Jackson: Wilson Love

Wilson Love is the first new staff hire, per Football Scoop. Love, 28, has worked under Kiffin since the 2014 season, when the graduate assistant at Alabama was noticed head-butting defensive lineman without a helmet. He moved to an assistant on the strength staff for the Tide’s 2016 national championship run, and became the strength and conditioning coach at Florida Atlantic following the season.

Players and Kiffin alike have credited Love for his ability to energize, as well as getting them prepared to finish a game in the fourth quarter. He is a lunatic, in the best way possible.

Defensive analyst

Monte Kiffin

He will continue to be a right-hand man for the defense on his son’s staff, the same position he held in Boca Raton for FAU. The Super Bowl XXXVII champ has coached in the NFL for just about everyone and has enjoyed stops in the ACC, Big 10, Pac-12, and the SEC throughout the years. The mastermind behind the Tampa 2 scheme has coached or assisted defense since 1973(!). His last coordinator gig was in 2014 with the Cowboys and his last college coordinator gig was with his son in Knoxville at Tennessee in 2009.

Associate A.D. of Player Personnel

Tyler Siskey: To be determined

The brains behind the Shark Tank will not be staying on Kiffin’s staff, per Neal McCready of Rebel Grove. As of now, it is unclear of he will hire someone to replace him or just have one of the name below take on his workload.

Assistant Director of Player Personnel

Brennon Chapman

After some intense courting from Joe Moorhead and Mississippi State, Siksey’s right-hand man will be staying in Oxford. Chapman has been instrumental in the Shark Tank approach that has been implemented at Ole Miss since Siskey’s arrival and since Siskey learned everything about the approach from his time in Tuscaloosa while Kiffin was there, too, it only makes sense to keep Chapman.

If you remember, Chapman was also being heavily pursued last year by Arkansas and former head coach Chad Morris.

Senior Personnel Analyst

Alex Collins

Collins, who spent last season with Kiffin at FAU, will join him in Oxford. Prior to FAU, Collins held the same Director of Player Personnel role at Nevada. Under his watch, the Wolfpack landed the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the Mountain West. Collins gained his collegiate experience at the University of Southern California where he was a member of the football staff for six seasons.

Assistant Director of Football Operations

Hunter Greer

Another name that is joining Kiffin in Oxford via Boca Raton is his main man who handles all aspects of team travel, meals, and day to day operations for the program. Also, Greer assists the on the recruiting front, playing a role in helping the Owls in 2017 sign the highest-rated recruiting class in the program history.

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Author:

Grayson Weir

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