Signing Day Winner: Chris Kiffin, Ole Miss
Head coaches may get the glory at the press conferences, but its the assistant coaches whose year-round grind that builds the relationships that ultimately make National Signing Day either a success or failure. Today, we’re recognizing some assistants whose hard work paid off with huge Signing Day hauls.-CoachScoop (Note: These profiles are focused on assistants who had particular success on National Signing Day. We’ll release our ranking of the naton’s top recruiters later this week.)
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s no secret that Ole Miss has been the story of the 2013 recruiting season.
The Rebels have had tons of buzz the past few months, and that culminated with a huge haul on Wednesday.
There’s undoubtedly several things that played into their success, but one factor that cannot be overlooked is assistant coach Chris Kiffin.
Kiffin, who followed Hugh Freeze from Arkansas State last year, served as lead recruiter for both Robert Nkemdiche (6-5, 260), the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, and Laremy Tunsil (6-6, 295), the No. 1 offensive line prospect in the country. Both Nkemdiche and Tunsil committed and signed with the Rebs on Signing Day.
Nkemdiche, whose brother Denzel is a starting linebacker for the Rebs, kicked things off with an early-morning announcement on ESPNU. Long thought to be a lock to join his brother, the Grayson (Ga.) High defensive end chose Ole Miss over LSU and Florida in the end, but had offers from virtually every school in the country.
Tunsil was a different story entirely. On Jan. 22, three days before his official visit to Oxford, the Lake City (Fla.) Columbia High product told UGASports.com’s Jake Rowe, “I’m just taking a visit to Ole Miss and stuff to see how the campus is, but I just have a top two and that is Georgia and Alabama.”
That changed quickly after his trip to Oxford, and Kiffin’s hard work certainly played a part in Ole Miss’ move to the front of the pack. Like Nkemdiche, he announced for the Rebels on ESPNU Wednesday morning.
Freeze hired Kiffin as Arkansas State’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator in 2011. It was Kiffin’s first opportunity to coach on-the-field after serving in administrative and quality control roles at USC and Nebraska, and it has turned out to be a wise decision.
In addition to Nkemdiche and Tunsil, Kiffin also served as lead recruiter for Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 198, Crete, Ill.), an Ole Miss signee and the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver prospect.
Before Wednesday, Ole Miss had never signed a single top-20 rated recruit. Now, with Kiffin leading the charged, they’ve signed three.
The Rebels are currently No. 7 in the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings after entering the day at No. 11.