Arkansas State's new defensive line coach has been around some of the best defensive minds his entire life.
For Chris Kiffin, being the son of Tampa Bay's longtime defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and the younger brother of current USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin, being around the game has become second nature.
From being a ball boy for a NFL team, to being a defensive grad assistant at a SEC school, an assistant at Nebraska and the last year seeing up close his father and brother and spending time on the defensive side of the ball at USC.
Kiffin gives a lot of credit for him becoming a defensive line coach to former Tampa Bay D-Line coach Rod Marinelli.
"That's where I really started learning the craft," Kiffin noted. "That really probably set me up to be a defensive line coach in the future. I played defensive line and constantly learned more about the position there."
Then he got the opportunity to meet Hugh Freeze and become a part of Ed Orgeron's staff at Ole Miss as the defensive GA.
"Ed Orgeron is one of the best DL coaches in the world," Kiffin said. "My time at Ole Miss mean't a lot to me. It gave me this opportunity, meeting Coach Freeze, getting to know him and I learned all my D-line stuff from Coach O."
According to Kiffin, he will model himself a lot after the current D-line coach at USC.
"I will definitely try to model myself after him," Kiffin said. "I'm not sure if I will be as loud as Ed, but I hope coach with as much fire and passion and love for the game as he has."
Growing up the son of a defensive guru has its advantages, and it appears it has prepared the younger Kiffin for his next task here in Jonesboro.
"My brother and I have always grown up loving the game of football and having the passion to follow in our father's footsteps," Kiffin said. "It was definitely a positive experience. I wasn't the most talented athlete, I still was able to play D1 football at Colorado State and now I'm coaching D1 football here at Arkansas State."
Kiffin talked about his defensive philosophy coaching the Red Wolf Defensive front and it appears that he has all the basics covered.
"We will work really hard on the fundamentals of the game," Kiffin said. "It's so critical to have our stance right, how we get off the ball, our starts and we have to work on our mentality at the position."
One thing for sure, the defensive front for ASU won't be passive.
"I teach pass rush, pass rush, pass rush, tackle the running back on the way to hitting the quarterback," Kiffin said. "We won't be sitting back and waiting for something to happen. We will be attacking at all times. We have the ability on the defensive line to be game changers and that's the type of mentality we need to have. Cause turnovers and make sacks."
During Kiffin's journey to his first full time position staff assignment, he spent two years at Nebraska on the offensive side of the ball. Kiffin feels this prepared him a lot for his future on the defensive side of the ball.
"To learn how offenses attack defenses and what they look for on that side of the ball has prepared for my job now," Kiffin said. "I'm ready and very excited about being apart of what's going on here at Arkansas State."
Kiffin realizes and appreciates Coach Freeze giving him this great opportunity.
"I know it's not easy to hire young guys sometimes," Kiffin said. "I truly appreciate Coach Freeze and this opportunity. I feel that I will make up for being young with my passion and love for the game."
Coach Kiffin has gone through spring ball in Jonesboro and he is very excited about the progress of his group.
"It's everything I always hoped for," Kiffin said. "I love spending time with my guys on the defensive front, in the film room, in the classroom, we make sure we are going to do the little things right."
That apparently also carries over in the classroom as well.
"I take pride in all of their accomplishments," Kiffin said. "I know how important an education is and I want to make sure all my guys get it done in the classroom. I know exactly what our grade point is as a group and I want them to continue to improve it this next summer session."
Kiffin is excited about working for Coach Freeze and is already enjoying working for someone he has grown to know over the years.
"We are a family here," Kiffin said. "Coach Freeze promotes a family atmosphere, all of our families are welcomed at the offices. The players see that and helps with his message to the team that we are a big family and families are important."
Kiffin will recruit the state of Alabama and a small part of the Atlanta area. It appears that he will take the same mindset to recruiting that he has learned over the years from some of his mentors.
"It's all about the mindset of relentless pursuit of what you want," Kiffin said. "Not taking no for an answer and showing a young man how important he is to you and your program by hand writing him notes, showing them how important they are to your program. I love recruiting and I will give it my all, I know how important it is to our program."