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Chris Kiffin joined the Florida Atlantic staff in December of 2016. His early arrival was instrumental in the staff’s transition period. Kiffin continued to be an integral part of the Owls staff throughout the spring and summer as FAU began to prepare for the 2017 season.
In just the first season of his influence, the Owls defense rose from a total defense rank of No. 124 to No. 63 nationally. In total, FAU was ranked in the nation’s top third in five categories: passes intercepted (2nd), pass efficiency defense (20th), red zone defense (23rd), team sacks (24th), and scoring defense (34th). FAU also was ranked No. 57 in rush defense as compared to 119th the previous season, despite opening the season versus Wisconsin who boasted one of the best backs in the country, followed by Navy’s vaunted option offense. Individually, Kiffin saw linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair lead the league in tackles and break FAU’s career total tackles mark. Al-Shaair, who finished No. 5 nationally in tackles, earned First Team All-Conference USA honors as did safety Jalen Young, who finished No. 2 nationally in interceptions, and cornerback Shelton Lewis. The 2017 Conference USA champions saw nine players recognized in total. Kiffin himself was honored as a Broyles Award nominee, recognizing the nation’s top assistant coach.
The Co-Defensive Coordinator was changed in 2018 to Defensive Coordinator.
At Ole Miss
Kiffin erved as the defensive line coach and defensive recruiting coordinator at Ole Miss beginning in December of 2011.
Kiffin’s recruiting trail efforts earned him 2013 National Recruiter of the Year honors by Scout.com after helping Ole Miss land a top five signing class. He also was tabbed one of the nation’s top 50 recruiters by 247Sports and helped the Rebels land a total of four top 15 classes, including the 2016 haul that was ranked as high as No. 4 by ESPN.com.
Kiffin entered 2016 with an acclaimed defensive end in Marquis Haynes, a Jacksonville, Fla. product. Haynes entered the year ranked as the No. 81 best collegiate player overall by NFL.com and as the No. 8 defensive end by Lindy’s. By season’s end the junior had tallied seven sacks, 11 TFLs, eight hurries and three forced fumbles. Haynes was a Preseason All-SEC selection by Athlon, Birmingham News and Lindy’s.
Kiffin guided another strong defensive line in 2015, which helped the Rebels rank in the top three among SEC teams in tackles for loss (8.1/game - seventh in NCAA), interceptions (15 - T-23rd in NCAA) and takeaways (23 - T-38th in NCAA). His prized pupils included Hornung Award finalist and First Team All-American Robert Nkemdiche, who was taken in the first round (29th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. Rebel defensive linemen combined for 24 sacks in 2015, led by a school record-tying 10 from sophomore Haynes. In two years under Kiffin’s tutelage, Haynes recorded 17.5 career sacks, tied for the fourth most in Ole Miss history.
Kiffin helped develop one of the deepest and most talented defensive lines in not only the SEC, but in the nation in 2014. Their work in the trenches helped Ole Miss top the nation in scoring defense (16.0) and fewest touchdowns allowed (24), while also leading the SEC in interceptions (22), turnovers forced (32), tackles for loss (7.6/game) and opponent third-down conversion (33.0 percent).
Nkemdiche was a 2014 All-America choice by multiple outlets following his junior season, as his constant pressure and collapsing the pocket caused havoc for opposing quarterbacks. He posted seven TFLs and three sacks and helped the Rebels rank in the SEC’s top three in tackles for a loss (8.1 per game), a mark that ranked the team seventh nationally. Haynes led the team with 9.0 tackles for loss and he set an Ole Miss freshman record with 7.5 sacks. That mark was fourth most among all freshmen in the country, en route to Freshman All-America honors.
With Kiffin guiding him, Nkemdiche made a major impact on the defensive line in 2013 as well by ranking third on the team in tackles for loss (8.0) and second among SEC freshmen in TFLs per outing (0.73). Nkemdiche was named First Team Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman.
Kiffin helped coach a much-improved Rebel front line in his first year in Oxford. His unit helped Ole Miss rank first in the SEC and fourth nationally in tackles for loss (7.9/game) and second in the SEC and 11th nationally in sacks (2.9/game). Those numbers were dramatic improvements over 4.75 TFLs and 1.08 sacks per game in 2011.
Under Kiffin, defensive end C.J. Johnson saw tremendous improvement from his rookie campaign as he recorded 6.5 sacks, tied for eighth most in the SEC, versus just one sack in 2011. Nose tackle Issac Gross was named First Team Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman after he tallied 10.0 TFLs (second-most by an SEC freshman behind teammate Denzel Nkemdiche) and 2.5 sacks.
At Arkansas State
Kiffin spent the previous season, 2011, as Arkansas State’s defensive line coach where he helped coach an ASU defense that led the Sun Belt Conference in total defense (331.46 ypg) and scoring defense (20.77 ppg), ranking in the top 25 in the NCAA in both categories. Arkansas State also led the league and ranked eighth in the nation in tackles for loss (7.62 pg) and tied for 15th in the NCAA in QB sacks (2.69 pg).
At ASU, Kiffin mentored Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Joiner, who tied for third in the nation in sacks and 10th in TFLs. He also coached Dorvus Woods to Second Team All-Conference honors.
Kiffin joined the A-State coaching staff after serving as an administrative assistant for the USC defense in 2010. The Trojans finished the year 8-5 with a 28-14 victory over UCLA in Rose Bowl stadium.
Prior to joining the staff at USC, Kiffin was in charge of offensive quality control at Nebraska from Feb. 2008 through Feb. 2010. During his two seasons at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers compiled a 20-8 record and played in two bowl games, including a 33-0 victory over Arizona in the 2009 Holiday Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Before Nebraska, Kiffin was a quality control intern with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006. During his time with the Bucs, Kiffin gained experience working with the defensive line during off-season OTAs and mini-camps.
Kiffin gained his first coaching experience at Idaho where he was a student assistant during the 2005 and 2006 campaigns.
As a Collegiate Player at Colorado State
A four-year football letterman as a defensive tackle at Colorado State from 2000-05 under then-Head Coach Sonny Lubick, Kiffin earned his bachelor’s degree from the school in 2005.
Born: January 19, 1982
Hometown: Tampa, Fla.
Education: Completed a sociology degree in '05 at Colorado State
Family: Angela (wife), Grace, Taylor and Bella (daughters) and Christian (son). Chris Kiffin is the younger brother of FAU Head Coach Lane Kiffin and the son of coaching legend Monte Kiffin.
2017 – Florida Atlantic (Co-Defensive Coordinator)
2011-16 – Ole Miss (Defensive Line/Defensive Recruiting Coordinator)
2010 – USC (Defensive Administrative Assistant)
2008-10 – Nebraska (Offensive Quality Control)
2006 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Quality Control Intern)
2005-06 – Idaho (Student Assistant)