FAU head coach Lane Kiffin is no stranger to recruiting talent that has yet to even reach high school. This time, he’s going after someone who’s barely even in middle school.
Florida Atlantic coach Matt Leinart offers scholarship to 11-year-old https://t.co/yBb8HG9aqy— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) November 14, 2018
Per ESPN, Matt Leinart’s son is currently in the sixth grade, which makes him one of the youngest players Kiffin has recruited. You’re maybe wondering how Kiffin is able to openly tweet about this. But the truth is, this is perfectly fine under NCAA rules because the prospect isn’t in high school yet. Here’s more from the NCAA rulebook:
A prospective student-athlete is a student who has started classes for the ninth grade. In addition, a student who has not started classes for the ninth grade becomes a prospective student-athlete if the institution provides such an individual (or the individual’s family members or friends) any financial assistance or other benefits that the institution does not provide to prospective students generally. An individual remains a prospective student-athlete until one of the following occurs (whichever is earlier):
In the summer of 2017, Lane recruited someone who had just finished sixth grade:
#FAU & Lane Kiffin offered a scholarship to QB guru Steve Clarkson's son, Pierce a Class of 2023 QB, who just finished 6th grade, per source— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) June 5, 2017
In May 2017, Feldman reported via his Facebook page that Kiffin has offered a seventh-grade prospect, Kaden Martin. He’s the son of former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin.
Tee Martin's 13-year-old son, Kaden Martin, a 7th grade QB, has received his first college football scholarship offer. It's from FAU and the Owls new head coach Lane Kiffin, according to sources.
The 5-11, 175-pound Martin is at Adams Middle School in Redondo Beach, CA. He's also a promising pitcher in baseball whose fastball has been clocked in the 80s. His dad led Tennessee to the 1998 BCS National Title and he spent time as a QB in the NFL before becoming a coach. The elder Martin worked under Kiffin at USC and is now the Trojans offensive coordinator.
Kiffin already has a verbal commit from 2020 prospect Brandon McDuffey, a quarterback from South Florida who committed to the Owls in February. FAU, along with TCU, Texas A&M, and Miami, all have commits from 2020 prospects, so Kiffin’s recruiting practice isn’t completely uncommon, but it is still rare.
As my colleague Richard Johnson pointed out in February 2017, there are some legitimate reasons to extend offers to younger prospects, especially at the quarterback position.
There are a couple other things at play here. Quarterbacks do typically commit earliest of any position group, especially the good ones. Most teams aim to take one every recruiting classes, and typically when one domino falls, the best QBs in a particular cycle slot in fairly early.
The other thing is if Kiffin’s going to make a move to compete in South Florida at a higher level recruiting-wise, then something like this could speak volumes about the lengths he’ll go to make a recruiting splash. Off-the-wall recruiting strategies are something you can (and sometimes must) do at a Group of 5 school, especially one that has to fight for players in the most talent-rich area in the country.
Kiffin even did this during his USC coaching days as well, holding a verbal commitment from a seventh-grader. David Sills V ended up signing with West Virginia and has developed into one of the best receivers in the country there.