OXFORD – On a day in which many coaches rave about the players they signed regardless of recruiting rankings or perception, Lane Kiffin took a different approach.
The new Ole Miss coach described his transitional class as one with good players but not to the level of future groups of Rebels.
In the business of building relationships there simply was not enough time, said Kiffin, who was hired on Dec. 11, and his staff not fully settled until January.
“I’m going to tell you how it is all the time, not give you coachspeak,” Kiffin said. “It’s hard to come in with this early signing date because 75 percent of the kids are gone. We didn’t want to reach. We’ll sign deeper and better classes every year that we’re here.”
Ole Miss announced three signees on Wednesday to bring its total to 16 players, nine below the allowable limit, in the 2020 class.
The highest-rated of the new group is four-star running back Henry Parrish, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound prospect from Goulds, Florida.
The Rebels also added three-star offensive tackles Luke Shouse and Cedric Melton.
The most notable signee actually reached campus in January when four-star defensive end Demon Clowney enrolled for the spring semester.
Kiffin said it’s possible more high school players could be added. He’ll keep an eye on the transfer portal for players he thinks can help. He didn’t specify positions but later noted he didn’t get all the defensive line help he wanted.
Some of that help could have come from a four-star Memphis University School prospect, had the two-way lineman not chosen Arkansas when it appeared he was close to signing with Ole Miss.
Kiffin and his staff were close to others like four-star wide receiver Malachi Wideman, a Florida State commit that flipped but to Tennessee instead of the Rebels, and three-star safety Donovan Kaufman, a Vanderbilt commit who gave the Rebels a long hard look but ultimately didn’t flip.
The Rebels also lost out on Amite, Louisiana, cornerback Daran Branch, an Ole Miss commit since last November, who signed with Georgia. Former Ole Miss coach Matt Luke, now the offensive line coach at Georgia, was involved in Branch’s recruitment though not in the lead role.
Two other University of Florida commits that were considering Ole Miss – wide receivers Leonard Manuel and Marc Britt – did not sign on Wednesday and could conceivably choose the Rebels.
Kiffin said he’d like to add another “really quality running back,” but NCAA rules prohibit him from speaking about players he has not signed, so there was no direct mention of un-signed five-star running back Zachary Evans.
“We lost some kids obviously like everybody does. A lot of that was relationship-based and not having longer relationships with kids, so we look forward to getting started on next year’s class and having a full year to do that,” Kiffin said.