FAU reportedly finds new defensive coordinator in Southern Mississippi’s Tony Pecoraro

Tony Pecoraro, who spent 2017 as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles’ defensive coordinator, has reportedly been hired to take the same role at FAU. (YouTube)

BOCA RATON — Lane Kiffin’s second coaching staff at Florida Atlantic is apparently complete, with FootballScoop.com reporting that the Owls have hired Southern Miss defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro to the same role.

Pecoraro, a former defensive coordinator at Alcorn State and North Alabama, will replace Kiffin’s younger brother, Chris, who took a job as the San Francisco 49ers’ pass-rush specialist last month. Under Pecoraro, Southern Miss finished 20th in the nation in total defense, allowing only 331.9 yards per game. The Golden Eagles defense also ranked 45th in the country in points per game, giving up just over 24.

Pecoraro spent two seasons in Hattiesburg and has prior experience in the Sunshine State, coaching three seasons as the defensive quality-control coach at Florida State and coaching on five total bowl teams. Pecoraro began his coaching career at Webber International University in 2004 and also worked as the team’s recruiting coordinator.

The Owls begin their spring camp on March 20.

FAU has yet to officially confirm the hiring. This story will be updated as more information is made available.

EXCLUSIVE: Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell talks Lane Kiffin, football in Florida

Former rapper Luther Campbell, who is a linebackers coach at Miami Central High, conducts practice in preparation for Miami Northwestern in state playoff game on Friday, November 26, 2010. (Miami Herald)

BOCA RATON — Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell always has something to say about one of three things: hip-hop, his beloved Miami Hurricanes and football.

And the former 2 Live Crew star loves talking college football. When coaching veteran Lane Kiffin was named Florida Atlantic’s head football coach in Dec. 2016, Campbell was quick to tweet his allegiance to FAU. He quickly became friends with the Owls coach, and invited the team down to Liberty City’s Charles Hadley Park last August. Kiffin and FAU will hit the road again this year during spring camp for a second practice in Liberty City on April 7.

[Hurricanes superfan “Uncle Luke” Campbell praises Lane Kiffin, FAU, for second trip to Liberty City]

In an exclusive, lengthy phone interview with The Post, Campbell discussed the current state of college football in Florida, and he began with the Lane Train in Boca Raton.

Campbell on the rise of FAU: “From what I’ve seen, the future looks real good for this team. The culture, the coaches … obviously Lane changed the culture along with the coaches. The strength coach (Wilson Love), I just love him. I learn so much from him being a high school coach — I talk to him all the time. I call (Love) up and see how he pushes the kids to the maximum. Football, when it’s on that level, everybody is good — it’s just a matter of the individual who’s pushing them. Do they really want to (work hard) for that coach?

“Obviously, those guys who have been just getting beat down for years turned their season around in one year because they bought into the program and bought into everything else that the coaches preached (to) them.”

Campbell on the state of Florida football: “It’s great because the best part about it, I always say, is there’s so many more opportunities for these kids to be able to go to college. I tell people all over the country, I tell my friend Snoop Dogg, I tell my friends in Texas and get into arguments all the time with (Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who played high school in Georgia and spent 2007-08 with the Florida Gators) about who’s got the best football players. I always remind him that Florida has the best players because we got the best football. I mean, it’s football all over the place and (it’s) good football!”

Campbell on jumping on the FAU bandwagon: “I went when (former FAU coach Charlie) Partridge was coaching! I always liked going out (to FAU). I’ve been going to FAU games for probably the last six years, have a good time … I just feel like it’s the best atmosphere for football.”

Campbell on predicting FAU’s success: “Everyone jumped on me last year when I said FAU is gonna win its conference, FAU is gonna win its bowl game. FAU has the best coaching staff of all the teams in the state of Florida.”

Campbell on the Hurricanes’ biggest need entering 2018: “One thing about me is that I call a spade a spade. I looked at Miami’s staff and I always say — and I’ll say it right now — we need an offensive coordinator. I love Miami.”

Miami had the fifth-best scoring offense in the ACC (29.1 points per game) and seventh-best total offense (403.4 yards per game) in 2017 under second-year offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. Miami averaged 34.3 points (6th) and 425.9 yards (8th) in 2016.

Campbell on former Florida State and current Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher: “I said Jimbo Fisher has lost a little bit of spunk and he lost some good guys off his staff. When you looked at Lane’s staff at the time with him and (former Owls offensive coordinator Kendal Briles) and (wide receivers coach and Miami Northwestern star Gary “Flea” Harrell), I mean he had some hot coaches over there. So to see (Kiffin) win like that, that was a no brainer (putting Kiffin over Fisher).”

Campbell on the importance of recruiting from Florida: “You can recruit the nation, but you’re in the backyard of that area. (FAU recruiting heavily in-state) is something that happened because (former FAU coach Carl Pelini, who was 5-15 in 20 games with the Owls before resigning in Oct. 2013 amid alleged drug use) was like, ‘OK, I ain’t getting no kids from Dade or Broward County. What he did, it was just a matter of time before he got sent out (of) the room.”

Campbell will continue to have plenty of takes on FAU and the Sunshine State’s other collegiate teams as the spring and summer go on. When FAU begins its spring camp on March 20, look for Campbell and Kiffin to talk shop both on the field and on Twitter.

Hurricanes superfan “Uncle Luke” Campbell praises Lane Kiffin, FAU, for second trip to Liberty City

Former rapper Luther Campbell, who at the time was a linebackers coach at Miami Central High, conducts practice in preparation for Miami Northwestern in state playoff game on Friday, November 26, 2010. (Miami Herald)

BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin is no stranger to contracts and agreements ending early, whether voluntarily (as seen in Tennessee) or with someone else making that decision (either on a tarmac or a projector).

There’s one deal Kiffin made after signing with the Owls in Dec. 2016, though it may not be notarized and signed, that the second-year FAU coach is sticking to in 2018: traveling to Liberty City for a football practice.

“I said (at the beginning), ‘listen, you ain’t gonna do it one time, we gotta do a two-year deal,” said Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, the rapper-turned-high school coach and football icon. “Because so many people are not gonna believe that it’s happening and so many kids (are) gonna love that it’s happening! For it not to happen again at least one more time, it would be hard on the kids.”

Campbell and his local fans, many of whom know the hip-hop legend for his coaching rather than his days with the 2 Live Crew and raps feuds, will have another chance to see Kiffin’s Owls practice in Liberty City on Saturday, April 14. FAU will also visit Fort Lauderdale’s Carter Park on April 7.

In the weeks leading up to their historic 11-3 season last summer, FAU traveled to Charles Hadley Park on Aug. 5. — though Kiffin was not in attendance that day, instead attending the funeral of father-in-law and former Florida quarterback John Reeves. Campbell still wasted no time that day in praising Kiffin, calling him a “rock star” when many were still doubting how the former Raiders, Tennessee, and USC head coach would fare at Florida Atlantic.

“Last year, that was a freakin’ treat for the kids to be able to have a college team come into the heart of Liberty City,” Campbell told The Post by phone. “[Liberty City is] the mecca of football … I had guys who played NFL calling up, they couldn’t believe it. They were looking at it on Twitter, on social media, and they just couldn’t believe it. A college team was playing on the park where they grew up at!”

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, former All-Pro wide receiver Chad Johnson (or Ochocinco, depending on the day), and ex-Miami Hurricanes star Duke Johnson — now with the Cleveland Browns — were among those to get in touch with Campbell.

Former Hurricanes running back Clinton Portis was among the ex-NFL players to visit Kiffin and the Owls last year, a list which also included future Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson and Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Campbell and Culpepper were joined by Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake for the Owls’ Nov. 3 win over Marshall. Drake’s teammate and Dolphins offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James also tweeted his intentions to see the Owls practice this spring.

“We wanted to get out as much as we could,” Kiffin said last summer of the “road practices.” “It allows maybe some people who can’t get up here to come see us, whether it’s coaches, players or fans.”

Campbell added that the Owls coming to Liberty City again also provides examples of stability and hope for the younger fans, many of whom come from single-parent households.

“It’s a real tough area as far as dads leaving kids,” Campbell said. “When these kids get showed a lot of things, they get a lot of things taken from them. Just being able to say, ‘look. they’re gonna do this again next year,’ that’s a great thing.”

Campbell said that construction on Hadley Park’s football stadium, which was scheduled for this spring, has been pushed back to accommodate FAU’s arrival.

Times for the Owls’ practices this spring, including the visit to Hadley Park, have yet to officially be announced, but last year’s open scrimmage began at roughly 3 p.m. The Post obtained an email sent to students last month for a volunteer football job which said Tuesday and Thursday practices this spring would be held between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday practices are expected to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Florida Atlantic announces ‘Lane Kiffin Football Camps’ this summer

Florida Atlantic Owls quarterback Jason Driskel (16) talks with head coach Lane Kiffin at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida on November 19, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — Between his Twitter antics and his coaching style, high school players have quickly taken to Lane Kiffin. Those same players will have a chance to meet and learn from the Florida Atlantic coach this summer.

Owls tight ends coach Clint Trickett, one of Kiffin’s first hires last year and a former starting quarterback at Florida State and West Virginia, announced on Twitter that the program will host seven camp days this June as part of the “Lane Kiffin Football Camp.”

“We are looking forward to the Lane Kiffin Football Camps this summer,” a statement from Kiffin reads. “Players who attend the camp will learn the fundamentals of football as well as new techniques they can take with them and use during their upcoming season in their path to a championship. Make this your best season yet! See you all this summer in paradise!”

Kiffin held a similar event his first summer at FAU, hosting a satellite camp which featured Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and now-Florida State coach Willie Taggart among others. Kiffin’s predecessor, Charlie Partridge, held a camp in 2016 alongside Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

FAU has yet to announce what other schools, if any, will take part in these camps.

Florida Atlantic rides four-run first inning to 5-4 win over Miami

BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic scored four early runs and, with help from a hot bullpen, kept a dangerous Miami Hurricanes offense from coming back in a 5-4 win on Wednesday night.

Winning for the sixth time in seven games, FAU (6-1) jumped out to a hot start against the Hurricanes (3-5), batting around in the first inning. Junior shortstop Tyler Frank led off with a double, his fifth hit in nine at-bats since moving to the leadoff spot on Saturday, and finished with his third multi-hit performance in as many games.

“It’s what you dream of, playing in front of crowds like this,” Frank said of a night on which FAU attracted nearly 1,900 fans. “In front of your university, students, it’s awesome. It’s a good time.”

Sophomore Nick Prather pitched four innings, allowing four hits and three runs while recording four strikeouts. Throwing only 63 pitches, Prather is the only Owls starter this season to have fewer than 10 total innings pitched.

“As he matures, he’s gonna get better because his delivery has a lot of stuff in it,” Owls coach John McCormack said. “Guys that physically aren’t mature yet have a hard time repeating that type of delivery. I think he’s gotta continue to work on his mechanics and physical conditioning.”

Relievers Jordan Poore, Blake Sanderson and Weston Clemente held the Hurricanes to one run before Miami loaded the bases with no outs in the 8th. Drew Peden proceeded to strike out two then induce a lineout to end the threat.

Miami again threatened to tie things at 5 in the ninth, but a lineout to second baseman Eric Rivera gave the Owls their first win in four games against the Hurricanes.

FAU improved to 7-18 against Miami under McCormack, an impressive improvement from the 7-54 record the Owls had against the Hurricanes prior to 2009.

Morris honored: McCormack announced shortly before first pitch that FAU would be giving longtime Hurricanes coach Jim Morris a week-long, expenses paid stay at the Boca Resort. Morris will be retiring following this season after 27 years and nearly 1,100 wins with the Hurricanes.

“He was ahead of the curve and he knows what he’s doing,” McCormack said. “I wanted to do it for me, for our fans and for him.”

FAU WR John Franklin III runs 4.32 at combine after posting historic video

John Franklin III #12 of the Florida Atlantic Owls runs for a touchdown against the North Texas Mean Green during fourth quarter action on October 21, 2017 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. FAU defeated North Texas 69-31. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

BOCA RATON — After allegedly running a 4.19 in a practice 40-yard dash, Florida Atlantic receiver John Franklin III’s numbers at the National Scouting Combine fell a bit short of historic.

Franklin and NLAE, the company representing the former “Last Chance U” star, confirmed to The Post that the speedy ex-quarterback ran a 4.32 in Indianapolis. Using laser technology to better gauge his pure speed, as opposed to his reaction time, Franklin instead ran a 4.40.

Franklin’s manager, Eugene Oldridge, said that the wide receiver was not sick or battling any type of injury.

“Just (a) bad time, I guess,” Oldridge wrote in a text.

In a video posted last week, the receiver ran what trainer Travis Shelton called a 4.19 dash, which would break the record set by now-Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross’ 4.22 at last year’s NFL Combine. Franklin’s 4.32 would have been the third-fastest time at last year’s NFL Combine, behind only Ross and Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel (4.31).

In his first year as a wide receiver after moving from quarterback while at Auburn, Franklin caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown while adding 229 rushing yards on 16 carries. Franklin also served as FAU’s backup quarterback for most of the season, though he only threw one pass.

Franklin will have a chance to better that time and come closer to Ross’ record at FAU’s Pro Day on March 27. Franklin told The Post he will run the 40 that day even after partaking in the combine.

Other 40-yard dash times from the National Scouting Combine had not been released at the time of publication.