Lane Kiffin and Co. Have a Type on the Recruiting Front
Some may lie, but we all have a type. The new Ole Miss coaching staff is no different.
The recruiting trail over the past six months in Oxford has been lightly traveled. The numbers portray the worst – they're currently pulling in bottom-rung class the SEC and are outside the nation's top-50. But that's just the negative side.
Recruiting was always going to be tough this year for the first-year staffs like the one Lane Kiffin has assembled at Ole Miss. All recruiting over the past months has been virtual and many of these kids have never even met the new Ole Miss staff face-to-face.
So sure, the numbers aren't pretty. But that's not what we're here to talk about.
There's not one single big thing we can take away from the way the new Ole Miss staff has approached recruiting. But I do think there are four.
Kiffin made it known when he took the Rebel job in December that national recruiting would be a priority. Truth be told, he's even recruiting internationally.
Simply put, they want to create a roster with the best available talent. If there's similar talent in state, of course they're going to lean in that direction. But for the most part, they want to bring in the best players possible.
But what exactly makes "the best available players" to Kiffin and Co.? That's what we're here to break down. Over the past few months, we've discovered a few trends.
1. Tall, lanky pro-style QBs
This was something I joked about recently with the latest Ole Miss quarterback target Maddox Kopp. A recent Elite 11 participant and three-star recruit out of Houston, Kopp stands a legit 6-foot-5 and weighs in around 210-pounds.
"They kind of told me that was what they were looking for in a quarterback," Kopp laughed when talking about his lanky frame.
Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby's first quarterback they hand picked in the 2020 class fits the same mold. Kade Renfro, also from Texas, is 6-foot-4 and weighs in around 195. The other name the Rebels are targeting at the position in 2021, outside of Kopp, is Jackson Burkhalter. You guessed it, Burkhalter comes in at 6-foot-5 and 218-pounds.
2. Massive, bulky offensive linemen
The Rebels like the big boys.
Ole Miss only has one offensive lineman committed so far for the 2021 class, Kiffin's first full recruiting year at Ole Miss. Micah Pettus, the top-rated offensive tackle in Alabama, is simply a massive human being. Coming in at 6-foot-8 and 318-pounds, Pettus has a genetic blessing that very few humans on the planet have.
But this size is something the Rebels have been targeting. Pettus is the only commit thus far, but the mold is something that appears in many other lineman they're targeting for this 2021 class. While many top programs are leaning towards leaner, more versatile lineman, the Rebels seem to be aiming for the biggest guys they can get their hands on.
3. Pure athletes at defensive back
Skill position players have been where the Rebels have had the most success in the 2021 class thus far. No more so than in the defensive backfield.
Three of the six Rebel commits for the 2021 class are defensive backs. All of them are incredible athletes. Kyndrich Breedlove, a three-star athlete commit that will play DB, is a legit track star, having ran an 11.36-second 100-meter dash.
Demarko Williams, another defensive back from Georgia, played both corner and safety and also averaged nearly 50-yards per game as a receiver. Elijah Sabbatini, the latest DB commit, also plays every DB role as well as receiver and kick returner.
4. Transfers and experience on the defense
Admittedly, this final trend may be more need-based than intentional. Ole Miss has found a way to fill some defensive holes recently with a pair of immediately-eligible transfers from Canada.
These transfers are coming at every level of the defense. Tavius Robinson, one of the Canadians, will line up on the defensive line. The other Canadian, Deane Leonard, will play one of the defensive back roles.
Lastly, Jacob Springer, a Navy transfer, comes to Ole Miss in the hybrid linebacker role. Unlike the two coming from up North, Springer will likely have to redshirt this season. The trend stands nonetheless.
Ultimately, it's been a slow start on the recruiting trail for Kiffin. But at least we're starting to see what he's looking for.