By John Davis
Oxford Citizen Sports Editor
As spring football games are winding down at the high school level, Ole Miss football coaches are seemingly increasing their work load from a recruiting standpoint. Until the spring evaluation period ends May 31, college coaches are out, visiting practices, and taking in the spring games of recruits, here in the state, and across the region.
Ole Miss offensive line coach Matt Luke has been busy, looking for the next crop of offensive linemen to sign. The goal is to sign four offensive linemen for the 2015 class and Luke, who can’t talk specifically about players, said the number is fluid, meaning it could be five, if the circumstances dictate that.
“It depends on needs and who we could get there,” said Luke, who was dealt a blow Monday with the transfer of starting right tackle Austin Golson. “Any time you lose somebody that was getting some playing time, there is a hole to fill. But it’s really no different than it being game to game and somebody getting injured. The next guy has got to step up.
“We’ve had a couple of recruiting classes under our belt and I think we’re going to be fine. I think some of the younger guys will step in, along with some of our signees.”
Ole Miss signed five offensive linemen in the 2014 class and also got Christian Morris in as a transfer from UCLA. Morris (6-foot-6, 290 pounds) has yet to be cleared by the NCAA to play this season, on top of suffering an Achilles injury, which put him on the shelf this spring and into the summer.
“There is no doubt that the freshmen will have a shot, but you never want to count too much on true freshmen. I think you could get yourself in trouble, but at the same time, we did have some success doing that last year and I think all these young guys know we will play freshmen if they are one of the best five,” Luke said. “I’m excited to throw them into the fire and see what they can do.”
Luke added that with Golson leaving, the challenge for him was to get another player ready in the summer practices leading up to the Boise State opener.
“I think any position coach has that … you don’t want to be the weak link. You’re always trying to push yourself and you want for your guys to grow more cohesive and play as a unit,” Luke said.
When it comes to signees for 2015, because it is the third full class for coach Hugh Freeze, the overall needs have changed, including along the offensive line where the depth has improved. Luke said there are certain guys that can play both guard and tackle, a plus in his book, but the idea is to sign players that play certain spots to fill those specific needs.
“Right now we’re needing tackles, bodies that are very, very athletic. I think we will take one inside guy this year, a center, guard, and then the rest be big, tall, athletic bodies that can maybe go in or out,” Luke said. “I think we will always be the same, just looking for athletes, guys that can move their feet and guys that can move in this league because you’re playing against defensive linemen that are very fast. The size is important, but you have to have guys that can move their feet. We put a much bigger premium on the ability to move their feet.”