Everyone, no matter what industry you work in, wants to be wanted. Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt Luke reportedly found himself wanted by South Carolina’s Will Muschamp.
Regardless, Luke – a former Ole Miss offensive lineman – will remain in Oxford.
Luke, who will be one of only a handful of holdovers from Hugh Freeze’s staff in 2016, did a great job piecing together the team’s offensive line this season.
Now-departed center Robert Conyers was limited for most of the year with knee issues, and juniors Rod Taylor, Sean Rawlings and Jordan Sims were sidelined at some point with lower leg injuries. Ole Miss had to scramble to patch together an offensive line in November, and with an injury to senior quarterback Chad Kelly forcing true freshman Shea Patterson onto the field, a late-season nose-dive seems predictable in hindsight.
The upshot was that five-star true freshman Greg Little gained valuable experience, as did Patterson. Additionally, redshirt freshman Alex Givens filled in nicely at tackle when needed and appears to have a bright future.
Luke, then, should be smiling. With the exception of Conyers, everybody returns, and Luke will be coaching what likely will be the best position group on the team. In addition to the returnees, big things are expected from redshirt freshman Eli Johnson at center along with former four-star prospects Royce Newman and Chandler Tuitt.
With the bevy of offensive linemen on hand, defensive line will be a greater priority on the recruiting trail for the 2017 class. Look for Ole Miss to sign only two or three offensive linemen this cycle; tackle Ben Brown, from Vicksburg (Miss.) St. Aloysius will fill one of those slots. Brown, whose dad played at Ole Miss, committed to the Rebels last February. And guard Lavante Epson of Greenville (Miss.) Washington School committed in June.
Three touted linemen are expected in on the weekend of January 28: tackle Tony Gray of Loganville (Ga). Grayson, guard Tedarrell Slaton of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage and tackle Stephan Zabie of Houston Westlake.
Grayson High has been good to the Rebels. That’s where Robert Nkemdiche played his high school ball, as well as four-star linebacker Breon Dixon, who committed to Ole Miss during the Under Armour All-American game.
Luke has a bright future that could include head-coaching opportunities. For Ole Miss fans, the hope is he doesn’t bolt for that opportunity until a few years down the road.
(You can follow Brad Logan on Twitter @BradLoganCOTE)
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.