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Lane Kiffin's brought 4 ‘Last Chance U’ stars to FAU, plus other big names

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Kiffin’s strategy in Boca Raton involves a load of stud transfers, including a few from the Netflix show.

NCAA Football: FAU Press Conference Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin is probably on his last chance. And he’s recruited a bunch of players who are, too, including a handful from the actual Last Chance U, the show’s EMCC.

Kiffin is a multiple-time failed head coach who’s left four consecutive jobs in acrimonious fashion. The former boss of Tennessee, the Raiders, and USC — recently the offensive coordinator at Alabama — now finds himself running a Conference USA team coming off back-to-back-to-back 3-9 seasons.

In his quest to bring FAU and himself to more prominence, Kiffin is relying on some high-profile transfers.

Several of Kiffin’s transfer adds are EMCC products.

  • Quarterback-turned-receiver John Franklin III, a former blue-chip Florida State QB recruit who left Tallahassee for EMCC after the 2015 season, per Brandon Marcello. Franklin spent 2015 splitting time at QB for the Lions, and one great performance in front of an Auburn scout famously got him an offer to join the Tigers. He played for AU in 2016, but just sparingly. FAU’s going to be his fourth college team.
  • Quarterback De’Andre Johnson, another former Seminole. FSU booted Johnson after video surfaced of him punching a woman. He landed at EMCC during Season 2 of the show’s run on Netflix, then signed with FAU.
  • Defensive end Tim Bonner, another Season 2 subject who had previously signed with Louisville and been verbally committed to Ole Miss. While he was at Louisville, Bonner said he was falsely accused of having a gun on campus. He went to EMCC last season.

The EMCC-to-FAU pipeline includes a coach, too.

Former West Virginia quarterback and EMCC QBs coach Clint Trickett has joined Kiffin’s staff in Boca. Trickett is the Owls’ tight ends coach this year.

Trickett’s brother, Travis, was FAU’s offensive coordinator last year under Charlie Partridge. Travis Trickett is now in that same job at Georgia State. His replacement at FAU is Kendal Briles, son and passionate defender of fired Baylor coach Art.

Also on Kiffin’s FAU staff is the head coach’s brother, Chris, as a co-defensive coordinator. Chris Kiffin is facing a spate of NCAA allegations from his time at Ole Miss. Kiffin has reportedly confessed to those charges, but the NCAA still hasn’t ruled on punishments for the Ole Miss case.

Some other big-name transfers who weren’t on the show or at EMCC:

  • DeAndre McNeal, a former four-star Texas receiver who picked the Owls on Signing Day over UCLA, citing the team’s ability to “make me the top wide receiver in the nation.”
  • D’Anfernee McGriff, a former four-star Florida Gators athlete signee whose recruitment has become the focus of a lawsuit filed by another coach against Kiffin. The coach, former Alabama receiver A.C. Carter, alleges that Kiffin used him to land McGriff and then pulled a job offer at the last minute.
  • Kain Daub, a former four-star FSU linebacker who left the school in 2015 and played two years of junior college ball at ASA New York.
  • Former four-star Oklahoma QB Chris Robison is also headed to South Florida. Robison was dismissed from the Sooners after a violation of team rules.
  • Four-star West Virginia WR Jovon Durante announces he’s heading to FAU after WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen expressed doubt about the junior making it to campus.

Kiffin, who’s used to coaching in more powerful jobs than this one, would like to win immediately at FAU. The fastest way to do that is to load up on talented veterans. In the eight months he’s been running the Owls, Kiffin’s gotten to work quickly.