After a bit of a stunning move to dismiss the incumbent offensive line coach, Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin is on the verge of another bold move atop the Rebels' football program.
Multiple sources tell FootballScoop that Kiffin is tabbing Jake Thornton to be Ole Miss' offensive line coach moving forward into preparations for the 2021 football season. The news was first reported Sunday morning by Matt Zenitz of AL.com.
Just three days after the Rebels' spring game in April to wrap Kiffin's first actual spring camp atop the Ole Miss program, Kiffin announced that he had parted ways with veteran offensive line coach Randy Clements.
Not quite one month later, Kiffin has found Clements' successor in the young Thornton, who's spent the past three seasons at FCS programs Tennessee Tech (2018-19) and Gardner-Webb (2020). It's a meteoric rise to an SEC position-coaching job for a coach who was still playing college football as recently as 2015.
Prior to his work in those two FCS programs, including helping to revitalize a Tennessee Tech offense that ranked among the nation's most prolific at the FBS level in 2019 and also broke or nearly broke multiple school offensive records, Thornton first got on the coaching radar at Alabama.
Thornton served as the graduate assistant coach for the Tide's offensive line in 2017 – a year that Alabama won the College Football Playoffs and just after Kiffin's departure from Tuscaloosa, to return to the head coaching ranks at Florida Atlantic.
A former All-Southern Conference selection at Western Carolina, Thornton also hails from a tradition-rich football family. His grandfather, Billy Shaw, produced an NFL Hall of Fame career for the Buffalo Bills after starring collegiately at Georgia Tech.
Thornton also served on the Catamounts' staff at Western Carolina in 2016.
Kiffin's staff is again complete as the former Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Vols and Southern Cal head coach seeks to continue his turnaround of the Ole Miss program.
The Rebels are scheduled to open their 2021 season Labor Day night in Atlanta against Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Classic. They closed Kiffin's debut campaign at Ole Miss with an upset-win against then-No. 7 Indiana in the Outback Bowl to conclude the 2020 season.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.