Fact or Fiction: Lane Kiffin has improved Ole Miss recruiting
National recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.
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1. Recruiting has improved at Ole Miss under Lane Kiffin.
Farrell’s take: FICTION. OK, maybe I should say “not yet.” I expected Lane Kiffin to close strong in 2020 based on name alone, but Ole Miss finished 46th in recruiting and only added a couple of high profile prospects down the stretch. So far in 2021, the Rebels have two impressive wide receiver commits in Bralon Brown and Adonai Mitchell, but aside from that it’s been a bit slow. I’m still waiting for the big push from Kiffin as he’s an excellent recruiter.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Kiffin did a phenomenal job through last signing day after being hired in early December, especially landing four-star running back Henry Parrish, who could be one of the sleepers nationally in the 2020 class, getting four-star defensive end Demon Clowney to commit and others to fill out the class through December. The 2021 class is off to a good start led by Brown, a four-star receiver from South Florida who had plenty of big offers. The spring and summer travel ban has hurt Kiffin’s abilities to get kids on campus and sell them on his vision, but there is still a huge opportunity with in-state prospects and the Rebels should be fine.
2. Cincinnati is the best Group of Five recruiting program in the country.
Farrell’s take: FACT. Usually you expect UCF, USF, SMU or Boise State to be on top with their geographic and/or national reputation advantages, but Luke Fickell has been doing an excellent job. The Bearcats' 2021 recruiting class ranks just outside the national top 25 and is made up of very good players from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky. Cincinnati will have trouble staying ranked so high as others add to their classes, but this is impressive so far.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. The numbers are close but UCF gets the slight edge here. Over the last four full recruiting classes, the Knights have averaged a class that would finish around 57th in the country. Cincinnati finished around 59th although one class that finished No. 89 overall was a big-time outlier. Still, UCF was legitimately a national contender just a few seasons ago, the Knights have an outstanding recruiting base and the results show on the field. Fickell is doing a phenomenal job at Cincinnati and that deserves recognition, but I give the edge to UCF.
3. Pitt will have the best defense in the ACC next season.
Farrell’s take: FACT. I really like Miami’s defense and, of course, Clemson will be loaded, but keep an eye on Pitt here. The Panthers return defensive linemen Jaylen Twyman and Patrick Jones and safety Paris Ford. It’s hard to match up with the star power at programs like Clemson, Miami and even Florida State, but Pitt can do it next season. The pass rush alone will be epic and I love the secondary.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. It’s always hard to bet against Clemson when discussing anything in the ACC but the Tigers lose a lot of top players from that side of the ball. While I have a lot of respect for Pitt’s defense and all the talent coming back I have to side with Miami for this question. The Hurricanes gave up just 20.2 points per game last season - and they should be much better this year. Gregory Rousseau will be one of the top defensive linemen nationally and the addition of Temple defensive line transfer Quincy Roche cannot be overlooked. Gurvan Hall in the secondary should be a stalwart. There were some losses, but Miami has recruited well - the 2020 class was loaded at defensive back - and so I’ll take the Hurricanes here.