Over the past few weeks, the Ole Miss Rebels have made quite a few headlines in the world of college football recruiting.
By now you’ve probably heard that Hugh Freeze and his staff cleaned up during the 2013 recruiting cycle, and you also probably know that they’re already starting to make an impression on the Class of 2014 as well. You also don’t need us to tell you that the Rebels success- immediately following a 7-6 season, mind you- has rubbed a lot of people from outside the Oxford city limits the wrong way, and led to a lot of unruly accusations. None of those accusations have been founded to date, by the way.
Of course if you’ve read up enough on the Rebels’ recruiting successes, you also know that Freeze didn’t get all those signatures alone, and that in particular Chris Kiffin (the brother of Lane and son of Monte) was credited as a huge reason for so many big names electing to come to Oxford. Because of his work, Chris Kiffin was recently named the “Recruiter of the Year” according to Scout.com.
So what makes Kiffin such a successful recruiter? Well, like many of his contemporaries, it has a lot do with the relationships he’s built... not only with recruits, but also with their extended group of friends and families.
And specifically in the case of offensive tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil, it also meant Kiffin spending nearly as much time recruiting Tunsil’s girlfriend, as it did recruiting Tunsil himself.
That’s because according to a recent article from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger’s Hugh Kellenberger, Kiffin sent upwards of 400 Facebook messages to Tunsil’s girlfriend with the hope that by selling her on Ole Miss, it might in turn sell her boyfriend.
Apparently it worked. Here is what Kellenberger wrote on the subject:
In addition to the 800 Facebook messages to Tunsil, there were another 400 or so to Tunsil’s girlfriend. By the time Tunsil confided to Kiffin that Ole Miss was in the top three, with an official recruiting visit to Oxford still to go, Kiffin said he had a good idea what would happen on signing day.
“A lot of coaches have (staff) guys run their Facebooks, but I wanted it to be like if you’re texting somebody,” Kiffin said. “I asked about his family. A lot of it is daily motivational. There’s a target on your back. Good luck against whomever. It’s just striking up conversation.”
And you thought coaching was all about X’s and O’s, huh? Apparently it’s just as much about Facebook messages, pokes and friend requests too.
Still, it’s hard to call this news totally surprising.
We’ve all heard stories how in a lot of ways, recruiting is as much about selling the people around the player (aka family and friends) on a school, as much as it is selling the player himself. That is especially true at Ole Miss, where, according to this article by Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples, every recruit is given a questionnaire where they are asked who their “Champion” is, aka the person they trust most in the recruiting process. And if you don’t think Ole Miss (as well as every school in the country) uses that information to their advantage, well, you obviously know nothing about recruiting.
Still, regardless of how common this stuff is, to see a school spend so much time on a recruit’s girlfriend does seem a bit much. No matter how you break it down, 400 Facebook messages is a lot for anyone to spend, let alone a guy who spends his weeks during the fall preparing for LSU, Alabama and A&M.
Then again, if preparation for Alabama, LSU and A&M may be a little bit easier this coming fall, it’ll be thanks to the hard work Kiffin put in this winter in helping secure the commitments of Tunsil, Robert Nkemdiche and others.
As the old saying goes: A little Facebook message can go a long way.
Ok, maybe that’s not an “old saying” at all.
But it certainly worked for Ole Miss these past few weeks.
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