Ole Miss announced Lane Kiffin as its next head football coach, but who will join him?
With the changing of the guard at the highest level, he is granted the autonomy to bring in his desired hires at both offensive and defensive coordinator, as well as each position coach.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As reports come in and openings are filled, we will update this post accordingly. Follow along for updates and analysis!
Rich Rodriguez: Jeff Lebby
Jeff Lebby was officially announced as offensive coordinator.
Lebby, 34, most recently served in the same role at UCF under Josh Huepel. His offenses have been wonderful in Orlando, guiding the Knights in 2018 to its second straight undefeated regular season, an AAC title, and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. In the 2019 season with a true freshman, his offense ranked 13th nationally per SP+.
Prior to his time with the Knights, he served in various offensive roles at Baylor. In five seasons as the running backs coach, his group produced five 1,000-yard rushers and ranked second in the nation in 2015.
Mike MacIntyre: D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge
As Kiffin continues to assemble his first staff, Ole Miss announced the hiring of assistant coaches D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge, who are expected to handle co-defensive coordinator duties.
Partridge, 39, has been with the Michigan coaching staff since 2015, and is considered one of if not the top recruiter in the nation, helping land some of the Wolverines’ biggest names over the past few years— including five-star defensive end Rashan Gary, five-star safety Daxton Hill, and five-star defensive tackle Chris Hinton.
Thank You Michigan... Love You Boys! pic.twitter.com/D6QArlAJYv— Chris Partridge (@CoachCPartridge) January 2, 2020
Highly sought after nationwide, Partridge has received multiple offers to leave Ann Arbor over the last few years, and turned down a position at Alabama after the 2017 season.
Durkin, 41, is expected to join Partridge as the play-caller of the duo, and comes to Oxford after a rise through the ranks that culminated with a two-year stint as the head coach of Maryland. Having served under big names like Urban Myer, Jim Harbaugh, Will Muschamp in the past, and he is currently a consultant for Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons.
Durkin’s two defenses in Gainesville and his quick stop in Ann Arbor finished 12th, 6th, and 10th respectively, per Bill Connelly and SP+ analytics. At Florida, Durkin’s defense allowed just 4.45 yards per play and 329 yards per game in 2014. While in the DC role at Michigan in 2015, the Wolverines held opponents to 17.2 points per game and had nine defensive All-Big Ten honorees. In his first season at the helm of Maryland, he doubled the teams’ win total and earned a bowl berth out of the gate.
Like Partridge, Durkin also has a reputation as a strong recruiter, and he was named Rivals.com’s 2012 Recruiter of the Year when he signed five-stars D.J. Humphries and Jonathan Bullard and four-stars Brian Poole, Jessamen Dunker, and Jeremi Powell.
We buried the lede a bit here, but we know about Durkin’s past and we aren’t playing dumb thinking you do not. Kiffin is tasked with hiring the best coaches to fill out his staff that he thinks gives Ole Miss the best chance to win. Athletic Director Keith Carter released a statement stating that they conducted a thorough background check on him and talked with several people that have worked in close contact with him.
Statement from Ole Miss athletics director Keith Carter: pic.twitter.com/PDfGcUDdCP— Emily Giambalvo (@EmilyGiam) January 2, 2020
Running backs coach
Derrick Nix: Kevin Smith
As announced in Kiffin’s introductory press conference, Smith will be the second confirmed hire for the 2020 staff. The former UCF standout played five seasons with the Detroit Lions, and ranks third on the all-time list for most rushing yards in a single season, behind only Barry Sanders and Melvin Gordon. It is safe to say that he knows the position.
Smith has served in the same role at FAU since 2017, and has been credited for bringing a “pro mindset” to practice and preparation. Under his tutelage, current Buffalo Bills rookie Devin Singletary broke the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns in a season, and was named Conference USA’s MVP in 2017. That same year, Smith’s backfield ran for an average of 285.3 yards per game, good for sixth best in the nation.
Wide receivers coach
Jacob Peeler: Derrick Nix
In a bit of a puzzling move, Kiffin re-hired the former running backs coach to now head up another room down the hall, per Yancy Porter of the Ole Miss Spirit. Nix, 39, continues to avoid any and every landmine, surviving three different staff changes in Oxford. He will start his 13th season at Ole Miss as the new wide receivers coach and will be expected to hit the ground running in the 2021 class to recruit the in-state crop of receivers within the Magnolia State.
Five of the top-10 players in the state in next year’s class are receivers and Nix, an assistant noted for his connections within the Hospitality State, needs to prove his worth to get Kiffin and Lebby’s offense some weapons on the outside.
Tight ends coach
Calvin Magee: Joe Jon Finley
Joe Jon Finley is leaving Texas A&M for the same role at Ole Miss. The Rebels’ soon-to-be newest staffer certainly has a type when he’s looking for a tight end and he seems to be able to close when he has the opportunity. Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam is poised to break the NFL combine much like DK Metcalf did a year ago and Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer, a former Ole Miss target in the 2019 class, made several Freshman All-America lists this season.
Finley is a respected name in coaching circles in the state of Texas and is just another feather in Kiffin’s cap when it comes to recruiting the landmass that is one of the hottest recruiting territories.
The old adage is “just hire a recruiter” for most if not all of the offensive positions on a staff, but Finley, a former three-time All-Big 12 recipient at Oklahoma, has been there done that. He’s played at the power 5 and NFL level and has a proven track record on the recruiting trail. Just another young, up-and-coming coach that is making his way to Oxford.
Offensive line coach
Jack Bicknell: Randy Clements
Randy Clements, 53, will join the Ole Miss staff to coach the offensive line, after coaching the same position at Florida State this past season. Clements will be reunited with Lebby, with whom he coached alongside at Baylor and Southeastern, and has been known to join his players in the weight room for a lift after practice— an approach that speaks for itself.
In his three decades of experience with the position, Clements has coached numerous All-Americans, consistent all-conference players in the Big 12, ACC and AAC, and the Big 12’s Offensive Lineman of the Year for four consecutive seasons from 2012-15 while at Baylor. Prior to his most recent stop with the Seminoles, his group set the tone for a Houston offense that averaged 43.9 points per game, ranking fifth in the nation, and 512.3 yards of total offense, the seventh-highest total in FBS in 2018.
Once a Nole Always a Nole! I didn’t plan on leaving so soon. We are so thankful for this experience! Thank you to the guys I got the chance to coach and coach with. We will always be brothers. pic.twitter.com/TfALBop925— Randy Clements (@Coach__Clements) January 2, 2020
Big Uglies lead the way!
Defensive line coach
Freddie Roach: Deke Adams
Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss have finally gotten some closure on the Freddie Roach Saga and his replacement has been named. Adams has been around the block in college football and brings an impressive resume with him to Oxford.
Since graduating from Southern Miss, he has made stops at his alma mater, North Carolina (twice), South Carolina, East Carolina, and Mississippi State. He is a phenomenal recruiter and coach, working with Steve Spurrier in Columbia where he worked with names such as Jadeveon Clowney, Dante Sawyer, Marquavius Lewis, Dexter Wideman, and Javon Kinlaw among others.
As evidenced by the names mentioned above, Adams is no. stranger to the recruiting trail and has roots in Mississippi, hailing from Meridian. Props to Kiffin for landing yet another impressive recruiter to this staff.
A 20-plus year coaching veteran who has recruited and coached six NFL draft selections since 2013, including two first-round picks.
Charles Clark: Terrell Buckley
Kiffin has added former Mississippi State safeties coach and 13-year NFL veteran Terrell Buckley, as first reported by Rebel Grove’s Neal McCready. The Florida State alum and Jim Thorpe Award winner will seemingly put his Magnolia State connections to use for Ole Miss and should give Kiffin’s staff a boost for any elite prospects in Mississippi.
The Pascagoula, Miss. native finished his pro career with 50 interceptions and a Super Bowl ring. After his career was over, he began his coaching career with stops at Florida State, Akron, Louisville, and most recently Mississippi State with Dan Mullen and Joe Moorhead.
Buckley is a well-respected technician with years of experience recruiting and an NFL resume to point to. This is a solid get for Kiffin and Co.
Special teams coach
Chris Rippon: Blake Gideon
Blake Gideon will fill the open position at Ole Miss. Gideon, 30, began his coaching career in the SEC at Florida, and most recently served in the special teams role under Dana Holgorsen at Houston, where he did an impressive job.
The former Texas Longhorn safety started all 52 games during his time in Austin and was said by teammates to have been a “coach on the field.”
Strength and conditioning coach
Paul Jackson: Wilson Love
Wilson Love is the first new staff hire, per Football Scoop. Love, 28, has worked under Kiffin since the 2014 season, when the graduate assistant at Alabama was noticed head-butting defensive lineman without a helmet. He moved to an assistant on the strength staff for the Tide’s 2016 national championship run, and became the strength and conditioning coach at Florida Atlantic following the season.
Players and Kiffin alike have credited Love for his ability to energize, as well as getting them prepared to finish a game in the fourth quarter. He is a lunatic, in the best way possible.
After serving as South Carolina’s Director of Player Personnel since 2017, Matt Lindsey will be joining Kiffin’s staff as the General Manager, per Bruce Feldman. As one of the men behind the curtain, Lindsey has been a key component to the Gamecocks’ recruiting efforts over the last three years. He has been included on the 247Sports “30 under 30” list more than once, and was named the Player Personnel Director of the Year by FootballScoop.com in 2018.
A Tuscaloosa native, Lindsey assisted with all efforts of the Alabama football recruiting department as an undergraduate, and joined the Philadelphia Eagles as the team’s college scouting coordinator after graduation. Since arriving in Columbia he has overseen all recruiting services, from talent identification to camps and campus visit schedules, and helped to land an average of the No. 19.5 ranked class over his four-year tenure.
After a less-than-ideal finish to Ole Miss’ 2020 recruiting period, Kiffin has brought in one of the best rising off-field staffers in the nation, and made a statement by pulling him away from a fellow SEC school. Hiring Lindsey brings further emphasis that the time to compete is now, and provides another big boost to an impressive staff.
Director of Recruiting
Devin Bush, Sr.
Kiffin adds yet another Michigan assistant to his staff. The former national champion from Florida State and Super Bowl champion was a defensive analyst in Ann Arbor after leaving his post as the head coach at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. His son, Devin Bush, Jr., was an All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at Michigan, leading to being taken by the Steelers in the top-10 of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Bush’s ties to South Florida are there in spades. He went 35-5 in three years at Flanagan and won one state title for the Falcons. But, his influence for the Rebels will be felt on the recruiting trail where his presence was immediate for the Wolverines. During his four seasons at Michigan, Bush helped Jim Harbaugh and Co. tap into the Sunshine State, signing one five-star and four other four-stars.
Bush joins his former colleague, Partridge, in Oxford and will form one of the most formidable duos on the recruiting trail for Kiffin and Co.
Senior Personnel Analyst
Collins, who spent last season with Kiffin at FAU, will join him in Oxford. Prior to FAU, Collins held the same Director of Player Personnel role at Nevada. Under his watch, the Wolfpack landed the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the Mountain West. Collins gained his collegiate experience at the University of Southern California where he was a member of the football staff for six seasons.
Assistant Director of Football Operations
Another name that is joining Kiffin in Oxford via Boca Raton is his main man who handles all aspects of team travel, meals, and day to day operations for the program. Also, Greer assists the on the recruiting front, playing a role in helping the Owls in 2017 sign the highest-rated recruiting class in the program history.
Player personnel analyst
He will continue to be a right-hand man for the defense on his son’s staff, the same position he held in Boca Raton for FAU. The Super Bowl XXXVII champ has coached in the NFL for just about everyone and has enjoyed stops in the ACC, Big 10, Pac-12, and the SEC throughout the years. The mastermind behind the Tampa 2 scheme has coached or assisted defense since 1973(!). His last coordinator gig was in 2014 with the Cowboys and his last college coordinator gig was with his son in Knoxville at Tennessee in 2009.
Player personnel analyst
Former Alabama tight end and fullback Mike Nysewander will join the Ole Miss staff in an analyst position, as first reported by Matt Zenitz. Nysewander, who played a role with the 2015 national championship team, is familiar with Kiffin’s offense as both a player and a coach.
Whippin up something serious here in Boca Raton ... pic.twitter.com/YLgD2qswBr— Michael Nysewander (@NYSEandeasy) January 19, 2019
After leaving Tuscaloosa and a short stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, he worked under Kiffin in a support staff role at FAU in 2017, and was moved to Assistant Director of Player Development after two seasons. Most recently, he served as the running backs coach for FCS school Samford last year. While with the Bulldogs, his group took a split-backfield approach and totaled 1,698 yards on the ground.
Player personnel analyst
The former No. 20 player in the 2007 class, All-Big 12 tackle at Oklahoma, and second round pick by the Vikings has joined the Ole Miss staff. This mammoth individual (6’9, 360-pounds) might be the largest assistant in all of college football and should be a key cog on staff in preparing players for the transition from college to the NFL. The Fountain, Colo. native played for Minnesota his entire professional career (2009-2015) and was a part of the Sooners’ record-setting offense in 2008 that became the highest-scoring unit in the modern era.
Player personnel analyst
Former Ole Miss quarterback and NFL veteran Micheal Spurlock will return to Oxford as a senior analyst and assistant wide receiver coach this fall. While in school from 2002 to 2005, Spurlock spent the majority of his college career behind Eli Manning at quarterback.
He carved out a comfortable share of playing time under center as an upperclassman, but found his niche as a kick returner throughout his eight-year career in the pros.
Where were you when Michael Spurlock returned the first kickoff for a touchdown in franchise history pic.twitter.com/CT9uNwRof2— Nick Sitro (@nicksitro) October 18, 2019
Since his retirement, Spurlock began his coaching career at Philadelphia High School and Coahoma Community College, and served as a special teams and defensive backs assistant with the Dallas Cowboys, and quality control coach at UTSA. Most recently, the Indianola, Miss. native was the wide receivers coach at Southeastern Louisiana.
In his first season at SELA, Spurlock also served as the special teams coordinator and coached All-American Juwan Petit-Frere, who earned All-Southland Conference honors as a wide receiver, kick returner and all-purpose player.