Eyes on Oxford

University of Mississippi football assistant Matt Luke has emerged as a leading candidate to fill one of the two positions open on Tennessee's football staff, created by the dismissals of offfensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens and wide receiver coach Pat Washington on Sunday.

Earlier Wednesday, Vol assistant Greg Atkins was named offensive line coach. Since expanded coaching duties would cut into his job as recruiting coordinator, Luke may viewed as someone who could reprise his tight end/recruiting coordinator role at UT.

Luke, who was hired by former Ole Miss head coach and current Tennessee offensive coordinator, David Cutcliffe, in 2003, was retained on the Rebels staff when Ed Orgeron took over last year. Luke has just finished his fourth season at his alma mater in Oxford, where he added recruiting coordinator duties for the first time in 2005.

He was named the Rebels' team captain and Most Valuable Senior in 1998 and led Ole Miss to a 7-5 record, highlighted by a 35-18 victory over Texas Tech in the Independence Bowl. He lettered four years, appearing in five games as the backup center as a true freshman in 1995.

Over the next three years, he would start 33 games and earn significant honors. Luke received the John Howard Vaught Award of Excellence and the Birmingham Alumni Club Leadership Award. During his junior campaign, he was selected 1997 CommuniGroup Lineman of the Year and received the first J. Richard Price Courage and Compassion Award, which is presented to the senior who, in the opinion of his coaches, demonstrated extraordinary courage and unusual compassion in his dedication to his team.

Luke served as a graduate assistant under Cutcliffe in 1999 and, after graduating in the spring of 2000 with a degree in Business Administration, he joined the staff at Murray State where he served as the Racers' offensive line coach.

Upon his return to Ole Miss in 2002, Luke took over the tight ends and faced the formidable task of replacing injured starter Doug Zeigler four games into his rookie season as a D-I position coach. He managed the daunting task with a pair of career backups and a converted defensive tackle.

The Gulfport, Miss., native won all-state honors at Gulfport High and was named Mississippi Gulf Coast Player of the Year as a senior. Luke's father, Tommy, was a DB at Ole Miss in the 1960s and his brother Tom, was a quarterback for the Rebels from 1989 to 1991.

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