Ole Miss Recruiting: Defensive Line

Chris Kiffin has turned Ole Miss' defensive line into perhaps the most talented unit on the field for the Rebels. How did he do it and what is he looking for in the future. The answer to these questions and many more are below.

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What are Ole Miss' goals going into this recruiting season?

"It is hard to say an exact number," Kiffin said. "Right now we are thinking possibly three defensive ends and two defensive tackles, but you always want to fight for your position, especially in the trenches. We want to get as many offensive and defensive linemen as as we can possibly get without sacrificing the other positions. There are some what ifs out there on the junior college level and some guys that maybe are already committed to us. It is going to be a mix and match game. We are never going to settle on a guy but at the same time we want to get some depth across the board. Obviously the OL/DL is a big priority for us."

What does the defensive line boss look for when he is evaluating a defensive tackle?

"Quickness. Quickness off the ball and a high motor guy. I am not concerned with height. I have always been that way. Obviously with Issac (Gross) being here you can see that it can be done being 6' 0" tall and light in the britches. Really just guys who love to compete and want to get it done. We can work with them once they get here. Really just solid football players. We are not worried about the whole size thing. We just want good football players."

Defensive end brings different attributes to the table.

"Athleticism. Our two defensive end spots are completely different. We are always looking for that rush end. That C.J. Johnson type guy who plays boundary. Those are the hard ones to find. Sometimes you have to project on a kid because the really good ones go fast. We have to compete to get one. Athleticism and ability to rush the passer to create problems for the offense is the most important thing."

How much of a factor is it when you have two kids with similar ability but one prospect might come from a small school and another from a large?

"Every situation is different. I am a big proponent of guys who are playing big time football. We have a lot of guys on our team who came out of programs like that and some who played for smaller schools. Every situation is different. Obviously more players come out of areas that are playing big time football. You just have to project. There a lot of kids who play for smaller programs that run all over the field and make plays but never once use their hands or something on film. You never see that kind of deal so it is hard to project that kind of deal. You never want to turn down raw ability if it is that good but at the same time if you know a player comes from a program that is being coached and is being held accountable and being disciplined that goes a long ways. If the guys are equal it is really a preference of the coaching style and whoever is making that call."

Coach Kiffin was at Ole Miss with Ed Orgeron's staff when they brought in several players on the defensive line who are still playing in the pros with names like Greg Hardy, Jerrell Powe, and Peria Jerry. Kiffin has resumed that resume with highly rated prospects in Channng Ward, Issac Gross, Robert Nkemdiche, Lavon Hooks, and Fadol Brown. Is he surprised at the success he has had so far attracting talent to his positions?

"I do not know if surprised is the word. It is extremely exciting. I think it all started with the head coach having a clear vision and relaying that to the players and the excitement from our young star players like Denzel (Nkemdiche), C.J. (Johnson ) and Donte (Moncrief). There is so much excitement. It is hard for me to vision for someone not to want to be a part of this program honestly. But again, I work here everyday so I see it. But again, the head coach, and the way he is on twitter and the way he is with the fans. It is just the way he is about the program in general. That part I can see why the players are attracted to that."

It has been well written about how relentless coach Kiffin is on the recruiting trail. How much of a factor does outworking the next coach play in the decision of a recruit?

"I think it depends on the recruit. Some kids are just sold on the school they grew up watching or rooting for. I think in the end if the schools are equal and you have four or five schools then the kid is going to go where he is really wanted. I think our staff does a good job of showing the kids that we really do want him here. Not only that but when he gets here how we are going to treat him. Obviously that is a part of our philosophy here. It is not all about football. We are going to help them become a responsible adult and the families love hearing that and that is just our deal."

Yancy Porter is the Mississippi Scout for Scout.com and he can be reached at yporter@scout.com


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