OXFORD • A better showing for Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin after recruiting “halftime” could depend on his ability to flip other teams’ verbally committed players.
Kiffin had been the Rebels’ coach for only 11 days when he introduced a class of three-star recruits to local media on Dec. 18, the first day of the early signing period.
He called the day “halftime” and said he looked forward to the back end of the process when his staff was settled and had a chance to get to know the prospects they hoped to sign.
There have been mixed results as those relationships have formed.
At their greatest position of need, defensive line, the Rebels will not sign four-stars McKinnley Jackson (George County) or Jayson Jones (Calera, Alabama), after being unable to sign another four-star, Josaih Hayes, in the early period.
Kiffin still hopes to land Marcus Henderson, a four-star two-way interior lineman from Memphis University School, but Henderson has been recruited hard by Arkansas.
Ole Miss did add four-star end Demon Clowney after halftime. He’s already enrolled and will go through spring drills.
Win some, lose some
As verbal commitments go, the Rebels lost offensive tackle Robert Conway to Florida State and could lose cornerback Daran Branch – tall and athletic at 6-foot-2 – to Georgia. Both players committed to former Ole Miss coach Matt Luke and his staff.
Kiffin, though, appears to be in good shape to sign four-star receiver Malachi Wideman, who is listed as a Florida State commit.
Five-star running back Zachary Evans, of Houston, Texas, remains a possibility, though predicting his movements has been a struggle for media making the attempt.
Also from Houston, the Rebels appear to be in good position with former Arizona commit Cedric Melton, a three-star offensive tackle.
Three-star safety Donovan Kaufman is said to be struggling to decide whether to sign with Vanderbilt, where he committed earlier, or sign with Ole Miss or perhaps Florida State.
The Rebels could also sign two Florida commits in three-star receiver Leonard Manuel and four-star athlete Marc Britt.
Manuel’s academic standing could complicate his situation.