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From Dogs to Rolls-Royces: No One Does Recruiting Quite Like Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin has employed a multitude of modern, resourceful ways to get athletes to "Come to the Sip."

Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin may be the most elite recruiter in college football history. From Twitter hashtags, to Maybachs and Rolls-Royces, to Labrador Retriever puppies, there is hardly a tactic Kiffin hasn’t employed.

Clearly, it has worked as Kiffin has dominated the transfer portal, most recently bringing in top-notch recruits like running back Zach Evans, five-star quarterback Jaxson Dart, tight end Michael Trigg (USC) and wide receivers Malik Heath (Mississippi State) and Jaylon Robinson (UCF) on the heels of Ole Miss’ 10-win season, the only regular season in which the team has recorded double-digit wins.

Make no bones about this, though: these commitments aren’t just about Kiffin, who calls himself the “Portal King” now. “Juice” the yellow Labrador puppy out of Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Mississippi, has had a heavy hand – or paw – in this process.

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The dog appears in multiple photos with recruits and even has its own hashtag. Kiffin and the Ole Miss staff use #ComeToTheSip on social media (which has become more of a #TransferToTheSip movement lately), but Juice has his own: #ComeJoinJuiceInTheSip.

Juice struck a chord with five-star quarterback Jaden Rashada of Pittsburg High School. When Rashada released his top seven schools on Tuesday, Ole Miss was on the list next to LSU, Miami, Florida, Cal, Texas A&M and Oregon.

It’s safe to assume that Juice would have also influenced former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral if the signal-caller had been recruited out of high school by Kiffin instead of former Rebels coaches Hugh Freeze and Phil Longo. Corral says he’s simply “not trying to deal with” the destructiveness of a breed like a German Shepherd or a Siberian Husky and that he feels like labs are the perfect middle ground.

“He texted me when he got it," Corral said at the 2022 NFL Draft. "My favorite kind of dog is a lab. You can never go wrong with a lab. They’re good dogs.”

As the photos show, Juice frequently appears in a Rolls Royce. That won’t outdo a Maybach, though, according to Corral.

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“Yeah, I’ve seen the video with the Rolls-Royce," Corral said. "It won’t top the Maybach he put me in. He’s definitely getting up there, though [in recruiting]. I wish nothing but success for him and Ole Miss."

Back in February, Kiffin described what he and his staff were trying to do in the transfer portal as “cutting edge” and “innovative,” and that certainly describes what he’s done here.

“There’s specific needs that you’re trying to do, and then there’s also best available,” Kiffin said in February. "The thing about it that’s strange, it’s not like grad transfers where those are positions of need immediately that you take. It may be a grad transfer, it may be someone that has four years to play. 

"It’s very unique and challenging to figure that out. There’s no evidence of how to do it and what’s worked, so we’re just trying to be cutting edge in how we’re doing that and putting together our roster."

Kiffin’s transfer movement has extended beyond just football prospects now with the coach encouraging music artists like Riley Green and Brett Young to “transfer to the ‘Sip.”

The key to all of this is that Kiffin maintains a “young” image that allows him to connect and resonate with players he’s looking to acquire in a way no other coach has been able to replicate so far.

It will be interesting to see what he adds to his long list of unconventional recruiting strategies, but if there’s one thing that’s become clear, it’s that no one does it quite like Kiffin.

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