Lane Kiffin Bolstered Rebels Defense Why is Ole Miss a ‘Transfer …..

The Ole Miss Rebels added a ton of talent via the transfer portal this offseason, but much of the emphasis came on the defensive side of the ball.

Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin signals during the first half against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Ole Miss Rebels have done a lot of work in the transfer portal over the last few years, and this offseason was perhaps their busiest cycle.

The Rebels return a ton of talent from an 11-2 team a season ago, but there were also some holes on the roster that needed to be filled if they hoped to reach the College Football Playoffin 2024. Recently, Ole Miss was named one of the “transfer portal winners” of the offseason by Pro Football Focus’ Max Chadwick and Dalton Wasserman on an episode of the PFF College Football Show, and a big reason why came down to the additions on defense.

“The bane of Lane Kiffin’s existence at Ole Miss has really been the defense the last few years,” Chadwick said. “They did a great job in the portal of addressing that, adding guys like Princely Umanmielen, the edge defender from Florida, adding defensive tackle Walter Nolen from Texas A&M who was the No. 1 recruit in the country over Travis Hunter a couple of years ago.

“Those two right there might be first-round picks in the NFL Draft.”

The host goes on to highlight numerous other names that the Rebels secured from the portal this offseason, including cornerback Trey Amos, linebacker Pooh Paul and wide receiver Juice Wells. The point is, however, that Ole Miss’ offense under Kiffin’s leadership has always been potent, but the defense now appears to have the firepower to be just as successful.

This push in the portal was made with hopes of the Rebels reaching the College Football Playoff for the first time in school history this season, but there is still plenty of work to do, if they hope to reach that pinnacle. Lane Kiffin believes this is the best roster he has assembled since he arrived at Ole Miss for the 2020 season, but that doesn’t mean it will have the most success.

“This is definitely the best roster,” Kiffin said at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin. “I don’t know if it’ll be the best team. There’s a lot to be figured out with that. Some of the significant players we have were out for spring, so we’ll have a lot of work to do to bring them together to be the best team.

“A couple years ago, we won 10 regular season games and last year won 11 total games, most in school history. I do think the roster is better than that, but that’s a lot of work to do to be a better team.”

Can Ole Miss’ “best roster” turn into Lane Kiffin’s “best team,” especially on defense? The answer will begin to unfold when the Rebels open the season at home against the FCS Furman Paladins on Aug. 31.

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