Sugar Bowl 2022: ‘Trust, respect, loyalty’ define relationship between Matt Corral and OC Jeff Lebby

Published 6:24 pm Friday, December 31, 2021

By Jake Davis

The Oxford Eagle

In a college football landscape dominated by big-money coaching hires and star transfers, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the individual relationships that make college football so special.

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The primary job for coaches is to win games, but they are also entrusted to mentor young men in a critical part of their life. Sometimes those connections between a player and a coach go beyond the gridiron, forging bonds that can last a lifetime. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral says his relationship with outgoing offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby was critical to his development into a top NFL prospect and made him a friend for life.

Corral says a lot of factors influenced his relationship with his offensive coordinator and led to the successful partnership fans saw on the field this season.

“Honestly it was just the trust, the respect, the loyalty… how both of our personalities are, it’s just the way we clicked together,” he said. “That’s a relationship I’ll have for the rest of my life and me and him both know that… I wouldn’t trade the world for it”

Lebby joined head coach Lane Kiffin’s staff in 2020 and the two immediately discovered they had a superstar just waiting to be unleashed. After spending two seasons as a backup, Corral was ready to prove his talent in the Rebels’ new up-tempo offense.

“It’s been incredible, humbling watching him play the way he plays,” Lebby said. “I think the thing he’s got going for him more than anything is he’s an inspiring guy. The way he puts it on the line for his teammates and his university every Saturday is unlike anything out there in the country.”

It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Corral threw 14 interceptions last season, including six and five respectively in meltdowns against Arkansas and LSU. While some young quarterbacks may have lost confidence, Corral was determined to improve and show the world that he is one of the premiere talents in college football.

Lebby says the development has been impressive to watch, and indicates just how fierce a competitor his star quarterback is.

“I [am} proud to coach him. Proud of him; proud for him,” Lebby said. “I think the most exciting part, man, is he’s just getting started.”

Corral is expected to be the first quarterback taken in the upcoming NFL draft, but says his dreams go far beyond being drafted.

“My goal isn’t to just go first round in the draft, that’s just the start of it. You can’t get complacent just because they’re saying good things about you and I’m not… I’m excited for the challenge ahead.”

Lebby, who was hired by Oklahoma as offensive coordinator earlier this month, made a point to return to Ole Miss for the Sugar Bowl to see the season out with his quarterback.

“We’ve got a great relationship… I wanted to be here for Matt,” Lebby said. “I wanted to be here for all these guys, to be able to go finish this thing the right way.”