Ole Miss Announces Jake Thornton as Rebels’ New Offensive Line Coach
OXFORD, Miss. — Following a diligent search, the Rebels have found their man to take charge of the offensive line. Head coach Lane Kiffin announced Monday the hiring of former Alabama graduate assistant and current Gardner-Webb run coordinator and offensive-line coach Jake Thornton to join Ole Miss as its new assistant coach for the offensive line.
OFFICIAL: New coach in the 'Sip. Welcome @CoachThornton61
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) May 24, 2021
Thornton began his collegiate career in the Division II ranks at Carson-Newman before later transferring to Western Carolina in 2012. During his career, he notched 33 consecutive starts at center and was a strong presence in helping the Catamounts to consecutive seven-win seasons and finishing second in the Southern Conference.
In 2014 he was named first-team All-Southern Conference as a junior, playing in all 12 games with 11 starts. In 2015, he started all 11 games and was named and second-team All-SoCon.
Thornton began his coaching career in 2016 at his alma mater, Western Carolina, as an offensive quality control coach and assistant offensive line coach. During that season, the Catamounts accounted for 4,253 yards of total offense and helped their quarterback Tyrie Adams earn SoCon Freshman of the Year honors.
A stop in Tuscaloosa
It seems many of the nation’s best young coaches on the rise make a stop in Tuscaloosa, learning all they can from Nick Saban, and Thornton is no exception.
He made his stop in T-town in 2017 where he served as the Tide’s offensive line grad assistant on the 2017 National Championship team that finished 13-1. Some of the notable names that line featured were future NFL draftees Jonah Williams (2019 first round) and Ross Pierschbacher (2019, fifth round).
Thornton leads Tennessee Tech turnaround
Thornton furthered his coaching career, serving as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at FCS Tennessee Tech.
There, he made an immediate impact by helping lead one of the top turnarounds in 2019. His offense gained 4,501 yards that year, the second-highest total in the Golden Eagles’ program history. During that season, Thornton’s O-line protected one of the league’s most productive quarterbacks in Bailey Fisher.
While there, he coached some of the conference’s top players, including freshman All America guard Trevor Stephens and sophomore guard Mike Rhoades, who was a second-team All-OVC choice following the season. Stephens earned 2018 OVC Freshman of the Year honors in 2018 and was a finalist for the 2018 Jerry Rice Award List.
Thornton arrives in Oxford after spending the 2020 season as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Gardner-Webb.
Welcome to Oxford
Thornton’s strong ties in various roles on the offensive coaching side will help both on the field and on the recruiting trail. The hire couldn’t come at a more ideal time as the dead period will end June 1st and the nation’s top recruits will be making trips to Oxford for camps and more.
Thornton has a family history of gridiron success, as his grandfather Billy Shaw played guard for the Buffalo Bills, following a collegiate career at Georgia Tech, and became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
Welcome to the ‘Sip, Coach! Are you ready?