"The number of scholarships was set between three and four," Luke said at Ole Miss media day Friday. "Right now we have three guys committed, and we're looking for one more guy to fill out the class. We just really needed to get some help inside with us signing a few (offensive) tackles in last year's class. We want to split it up with two guards and two tackles in this year's class. We'd like to round this class out with a tackle who can come right in next season and give us some depth. That's our goal."
The Rebels currently have two guards committed in Tyler Putman and Andy Bauer and one tackle in Roderick Taylor. Where does this leave the offensive center position?
"I feel OK there. We lose Evan Swindall but I've moved Robert Conyers some inside in the spring, and he's looked really good there at center. Austin Douglass is capable, and I'm going to try and redshirt Ben Still to give him a year to get bigger and stronger there at center. He's a really good athlete and very intelligent. I feel like we have three guys in there that are capable. I just think we have more pressing needs right now than center."
What does Coach Luke look for in his evaluations of an offensive tackle?
"I just want to see athleticism and toughness. I'd like to take my wife to the game and say that's the guy you're coming to watch. Those are the guys that jump off the tape at you when you go to the game. I want someone that everybody in the stands knows is an SEC player. That's what you're looking for in an SEC tackle."
The previous offensive line coach liked his offensive tackles to be at least 6' 6" or taller. Coach Luke is a little more flexible.
"I think being 6' 5" plus helps but I can live with a 6' 4" tackle. I really could. A 6' 4" tackle could play in this offense if he had to. If he's really gifted he could be even a little shorter than that. Again, I'm looking for athleticism more than anything else, although size does help."
What does he look for in a guard?
"I'm looking for someone who's very physical in a guard. In this league they're having to go up against big three techniques, big nose guards. I want big, physical guys that are maulers that play very physical and tough. Those are the two most important things that I look for in a guard. They do have to pull a lot, so they have to be able to run some, but being big and physical are the two biggest things I look at when evaluating a guard."
How about at center?
"Center, you're looking for the intangibles. You're looking for athletic guys that have the intangibles and they're also a student of the game. Again, tough and nasty and a leader. Closer to the characteristics of a quarterback. You're looking for a guy that people will follow."
Luke is no stranger to Ole Miss. He was an All-SEC lineman at Ole Miss and has coached for the Rebels under three different head coaches. Is he surprised at the success he has had drawing in top offensive line prospects during his latest stint in Oxford?
"I think we have a good thing going, and I think everyone is happy. I think when prospects come here they sense that, and sense the family atmosphere and they feel like they can make is a difference here. Obviously with us coming in with a new system and us not being very deep they see immediate playing time and a chance to come in and play right away, so that's helped too."
Yancy Porter is the Mississippi Scout for Scout.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org