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January 20, 2014

Monte Kiffin: Lane 'excited' for new opportunity as Alabama's OC

MOBILE | Just a week into his new job at Alabama, Lane Kiffin was on the road recruiting and called his father, renowned defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, to give him the initial report on his new surroundings.

As it turns out, Alabama has delivered an overwhelming first impression to its new offensive coordinator.

"He was at Tennessee one year so he got to know the Southeastern Conference, but in Tennessee, they didn't have the football (Alabama does)," Monte Kiffin said Monday following the first day of Senior Bowl practice. Monte, the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, was on hand to evaluate talent during the South team practice in Fairhope.

"He said 'Dad, this place is nice now, and it's football year round. Football and recruiting, that's it. That's what it's all about now.' So he's excited."

Lane Kiffin, 38, was hired by Alabama on Jan. 10. He had been a head coach at Southern Cal, (2010-13), the Oakland Raiders (2007-08) and the University of Tennessee (2009) among his 17 seasons as a college and pro coach.

During that phone call to Monte, Lane talked about how excited he was to be back on the recruiting trail. Lane also told his father that the collaboration his new boss, Nick Saban, has been seamless.

"He loves (Saban)," Monte said. "He got to know him a little bit, and he respects Nick a lot. He really does. Coach Lane, well, his dad is a little bit old school, I'd like to think he knows what discipline is and that's what Coach Nick stands for. So I'm excited."

Lane, who was fired by USC in September after posting a 28-15 record in three-plus seasons as head coach, spent eight days in Tuscaloosa during bowl practices in December to evaluate Alabama's offense.

Monte said Lane never considered that Tuscaloosa visit as an audition for a coaching position on Alabama's staff. At the time, Doug Nussmeier was still Alabama's offensive coordinator. When Nussmeier left for the offensive coordinator job at Michigan, Kiffin was interested but was uncertain about his chances to land the job.

"He didn't know for sure whether he had the job or not," Monte said. "He had spent some time with Coach (Nick) Saban, but he had no idea for sure."

Not surprisingly, Monte expects Lane's new stop to be a success. He believes that Lane's experience calling plays as a head coach have him prepared for this position.

"He'll do good," Monte said.

Kicking it
Punter Cody Mandell spent the first day of Senior Bowl practice with his good friend and kicking mate Cody Parkey of Auburn. Mandell served as the holder for Parkey's field goal attempts.

"Me and Parkey have known each other since junior year of high school," Mandell said. "I've always been good friends with him, so it's nothing new. I like the guy. He's been one of my better friends throughout college. Everybody in Tuscaloosa will probably get mad at me for saying that."

Mandell had to adjust to K-ball that the NFL uses, a different ball from what Mandell kicked at Alabama. "It's really different, as far as watching the rotation," Mandell said. "There's no white lines on it, so it's a little bit different than what I'm used to it. My snapper's left-handed so that's also pretty different. Just a bunch of different things to get used to this week. I can show my versatility. I have to overcome it and show I can overcome it.

"It was fun. First day it's just getting the jitters out. It's football. You've got to do what you've always done and not try to do anymore."

Injured
Defensive end Ed Stinson sustained a groin injury and told TideSports.com he will not participate in Saturday's Senior Bowl. Stinson said he played through most of his senior season with the injury and just aggravated it. After a drill during the beginning of practice he walked over to the trainer and was held out for the remainder of the day. He said he planned to meet with the trainer after practice to determine his availability the rest of the week. He said he will head back to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday to rehab the injury.

Tale of the tape
Monday morning players hopped on scales and stood up tall for measurements, as NFL coaches and scouts took careful notices.

Stinson measured in at 6-foot-3 1/8 and 292 pounds, wide receiver Kevin Norwood 6-2, 197 pounds, Adrian Hubbard 6-5 7/8, 255 pounds and Cody Mandell 6-2 1/4, 216 pounds.

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229. Reach D.C. Reeves at dc.reeves@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0196.

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Reach D.C. Reeves at DC.Reeves@tuscaloosanews.com or 205.722.0196.

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