Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke met with the media Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Rebels’ 2018 recruiting class.
In his first recruiting cycle as the head coach of the Rebels, Matt Luke has put together a Top-30 class, and as he addressed the media Wednesday, he expressed pleasure with the recruiting class he and his staff put together.
“Top to bottom we were able to address a bunch of needs with this class and I’m really, really excited.”
Ole Miss head coach on Ole Miss’ 2018 signees
Following the NCAA sanctions handed down, many thought the Rebels would limp into National Signing Day with a mediocre class at best. However, Coach Luke and his staff had other plans and proved naysayers wrong–yet again.
Ole Miss went after specific needs this cycle and filled all the Rebs’ areas of concern. “We were able to address our needs at every position,” Luke said. “A lot of credit goes out to our staff.”
Last season, the Rebels struggled at the linebacker position so they vigorously pursued linebackers in the 2018 class. Including early signees, Luke was able to ink five LBs.
“We were able to get some length and size and athleticism at linebacker. We have three 6’4+ linebackers.“
Coach Luke on Rebels’ linebacker commits
In the wake of losing running back Jordan Wilkins, Luke said that one of the biggest needs in this year’s class was filled by 3-star JUCO RB Scottie Phillips. He is expected to make an impact right away, according to Coach Luke.
Most exciting player
Coach Luke was asked multiple times about ATH Tylan Knight and referred to the 5’7″ Pearl, Miss. native as “the steal of the class,” even comparing him to former Rebel great Dexter McCluster.
“We’ve looked at him at nickel, returner, maybe at some slot. For his size, he is really, really physical. We’ve got him on the bus; now we just got to find him the right seat.”
Matt Luke on Ole Miss signee Tylan Knight
Knight, who was committed to Louisiana-Lafayette until a late offer from the Rebels changed his mind, has impressed the Rebels with his versatility and tenacity. Luke described him as the most exciting player on the MS side of the MS-AL high school game, and singled out fellow signee linebacker Kevontae’ Ruggs as the most exciting player on defense.
Making a statement
With NCAA sanctions coming down just before the early signing period began, many counted the Rebels out for the 2018 recruiting cycle. Most thought top targets would steer clear of Oxford; however, they were wrong. Army All-American QB Matt Corral signed with the Rebels back in December and is already enrolled. 4-star WR Elijah Moore signed back in December, and fellow 4-star WR Miles Battle joined him this morning.
Wide receiver coach Jacob Peeler has one of the best receiving corps in the nation, and he didn’t slow down on NSD. “Coach Peeler is very thorough, very organized,” Coach Luke said of his assistant. “There’s a lot to sell there. I thought he did a great job with building relationships. I thought he did an outstanding job.”
Similarly, the Rebels inked two 330+ defensive linemen in Noah Jefferson and Jalen Cunningham. They also signed a very athletic James Williams at defensive end.
As he lauded Coach Peeler, Luke had similar praise for defensive line coach Freddie Roach.
“Kids gravitate to him, his energy. He’s very thorough and organized, as well. He has the ‘it factor’ with energy. When you walk into a room, he can capture their attention very easily.“
Coach Luke on defensive line coach Freddie Roach
Rolling into 2019
Coach Luke hopes this year’s recruiting success will help the Rebels in their quest for 2019 players. Mississippi’s 2019 class is one of the most talented in the country, and this could be huge for the Rebels. When asked about the 2019 group, Luke commented: “Our recruiting philosophy will always start with Mississippi.”
He’s off to a good start, with four commitments from some of the top players in Mississippi. Jerrion Ealy, a 4-star and No. 97 overall player from Jackson, MS, is the Rebels’ top recruit in 2019 so far. Behind him is Jamond Gordon, a 3-star DE from Meridian, MS, and teammates WR Jordan Jernigan and S Tavario Standifer, both 3-star players from Tupelo, MS.
If Luke can succeed on the field this year and continue to sell Ole Miss as well as he did this year, 2019 could be an outstanding year for the Rebels on the recruiting trail.
“When I go into the living rooms (of recruits), it’s easy for me to sell Ole Miss. This is my dream job.“
Coach Matt Luke
Hats off to Matt Luke for this 2018 recruiting class; he did far more than many would have expected back in the fall when the Rebels were ranked as low as 90th in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for 2018. Many thought recruits would scatter after the NCAA penalized the program. However, in true “blue-collar” fashion, Coach Luke kept his head down and his nose to the grindstone and worked hard to assemble a very solid class that is exactly what the program needed.
That’s a wrap for 2018…on to 2019!