OXFORD The message from new Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin to his fans hoping to see stars and team rankings on the early signing date was clear.

“It’s only halftime.”

The early date was not a thing the last time Kiffin was a Power Five head coach, for the 2013 signing class at Southern Cal.

Having been head coach at Ole Miss for only 11 days he took a slow, controlled approach to the early signing period, instead planning to focus on relationship building and a big finish on Feb. 5.

That would not be very different from the 2019 signing class under former coach Matt Luke.

The Rebels had six February signees. Included in the group were quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, running back Jerrion Ealy, wide receiver Jonathan Mingo and junior college transfer linebacker Lakia Henry.

All four of them made major impact as starters.

“If we signed two, we signed two. There were a number of players we could have signed,” Kiffin said. “We said we were going to work fast, but we were also going to work smart. There are still a number of kids that we’re on and some other kids maybe that were going some other places but have pushed back in order to give us a chance.”

One who didn’t push back was Horn Lake four-star defensive tackle Josaih Hayes, who was considered an Ole Miss lean but chose Kentucky instead.

When the dust settled on the first half, Ole Miss came away with 11 signees, one a junior college transfer in middle linebacker Daylen Gill of Jones County. All are three-star recruits according to the industry-generated 247Sports.com composite list.

Three of the signees were not part of the Ole Miss class of verbal commitments: offensive tackle Tobias Braun, cornerback Derek Bermudez and Gill.

The class is currently ranked No. 40 by 247Sports.com.

Bermudez, Seminary linebacker Austin Keys, Stephenville, Texas, QB Kade Renfro and Gill will be mid-year enrollees and ready for spring practice.

“We signed some kids today that we’re excited about,” Kiffin said. “When we start back up again here, obviously we’d like to have our staff in place, it will be full strength, and we’ll finish out the second half.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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