OXFORD • It was often said through the 2019 season that whoever coached Ole Miss in 2020 would have a strong core of returning young talent as a foundation.
It was learned late Friday night that coach would be Lane Kiffin.
The well-traveled Kiffin will be formally introduced in a press conference/pep rally today at 1 at The Pavilion, less than 48 hours after his Florida Atlantic team dismantled Conference USA’s top defense 49-6 in the league championship game.
“Our staff and I will work tirelessly to recruit and develop successful players for this program,” Kiffin said in the school’s official release announcing his hiring on Saturday.
Already on the roster for his first team will be quarterback John Rhys Plumlee – currently the SEC’s leading rusher at 113.7 yards a game – and freshman All-Americans in running back Jerrion Ealy and offensive tackle Nick Broeker.
Ealy rushed for 722 yards and six touchdowns this season. He also averaged 24.4 yards on 13 kick returns, one for a 94-yard touchdown.
Broeker appeared in all 12 games, splitting time with senior Michael Howard at left tackle. He allowed just one sack in 213 pass-blocking snaps, the highest-graded freshman left tackle in the SEC according to Pro Football Focus.
It’s also possible that Kiffin will have the full complement of freshman quarterbacks with which Ole Miss began the 2019 season.
It had been rumored that four-star signee Grant Tisdale, who had left the team with plans to enter the NCAA transfer portal, will return, and that was reported as fact by the Oxford Eagle on Saturday night.
Redshirt freshman Matt Corral, who began the season as the starter only to become the backup once Plumlee took over, was widely considered bound for the transfer portal but has not left the team yet.
Also on the roster is freshman Kinkead Dent, who redshirted.
A number of Ole Miss players expressed anger in a team meeting just one week ago when athletics director Keith Carter told them Matt Luke would not be retained as coach.
Carter estimated that eight to 10 players walked out of that meeting before it concluded. Offensive lineman Chandler Tuitt was quoted as saying “half the team” was considering leaving the program.
Saturday night, after Ole Miss officially announced Kiffin’s hire, a number of Ole Miss players posted messages on Twitter to show their approval and eagerness to get started.
“Let’s get to work Coach!” wrote Broeker.
Defensive tackle Quentin Bivens followed with “Let’s get it !! @Lane_Kiffin.”
Others chimed in too.