Sunday was the first day of the NCAA's 'contact period,' the first of a two-week period of time where college coaches can hit the road to evaluate and communicate with athletes at school or at home. It's of course the first time since the 2020 recruiting cycle the contact period was permitted due to the pandemic.
The first trip Kiffin made was back to the state of Florida to see the sole Floridian committed to the program in Preston Cushman. The Clearwater (Fla.) Calvary Christian standout was honored to be the first recruit the staff saw in the window.
"It was great we were able to sit down and talk for a few hours," Cushman said. "I was the first person they saw. It felt great to know I am a priority. We basically reaffirmed our commitments. Also, Coach Kiffin and (Jake) Thornton talked about how excited they are for my future at Ole Miss."
The shuffle on the Rebel offensive line this season was part of the messaging from the staff.
"They are excited about my versatility, since they had to change around positions this year due to injuries," he said. "They are excited that I can play all five positions with my athletic, long frame.
"It’s just great to see Coach Kiffin's staff come in there and build this championship culture and to see that this Ole Miss team is now very relevant and will be relevant for years to come."
As for the future of Kiffin in the coaching ranks, there was a brief moment in which speculation on some of the open jobs came up.
"W did not get too in depth into that topic," Cushman said. "He is obviously still recruiting OM...and does not want the recruits to get caught up in the rumors.
"He did not allude to anything."
The Floridian, listed at 6'5", near 300 pounds, committed to the Rebels in July, in a contested battle with in-state Florida at the time. At the time he singled out Thornton and other assistants as the primary reason why.
Ole Miss has 13 football commitments at this time. Recruits can begin making pledges official when the Early Signing Period opens up on December 15.
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