FEATURE: The Lukes - An Ole Miss Family
Nov. 10, 2016

Story Featured in the Ole Miss vs. Georgia Southern Football Game Program (Nov. 5)

By Dylan Edwards, OleMissSports.com

The terms “former Rebel” or “future Rebel” are used at times, but that’s not really an accurate description. For the Luke family, being a Rebel is something that runs as deep as their last name. They were born Rebels, played as Rebels, and will always be Rebels.

Obviously, the current football team and staff is represented by three members of the Luke family. Brothers Matt and Tom serve as the co-offensive coordinator and assistant athletic director for player development, respectively. Tom’s son Cale is a junior for Ole Miss. However, a Luke donning the Red and Blue of Ole Miss goes back three generations. Matt and Tom’s father, Tommy, began the tradition in the 1960s playing defensive back under Coach Johnny Vaught.

“I don’t know if it gets any redder and bluer,” Tom said. “That’s the way we grew up. It’s all we know. Whether they’re the best team in the country or 0-and-whatever, you’re still going to defend your brother. That’s what Ole Miss is to us: family.”

Tom would be the first to follow in his father’s footsteps, earning three letters while playing quarterback for Ole Miss.

“It was something special for you to play for Ole Miss,” Tom said. “That got handed down to me. There was no other place that I was even going to consider playing for.”

With Matt being seven years younger than Tom, he grew up watching his brother represent Ole Miss.

“With Tom being a starting QB and a starting pitcher, I wore his jerseys,” Matt said. “I came to The Grove. That was my childhood. We played football on Friday and would drive all night to come watch him play on Saturday.”


 

 

When the time rolled around for Matt to choose a college to attend and play football for, the choice was really made long before his final years of high school. As mentioned, he was a Rebel. Being the third one in the family to play for Ole Miss, it came with a little extra incentive to live up to the family name.

“When they gave me an opportunity to play, that was something I worked for my entire career, and I wasn’t going to give it up,” Matt said. “Having a brother that’s seven years older than you and having a dad that played there and played in the NFL, you don’t want to let them down. You want to make sure you compete.”

It’s safe to say Matt accomplished that, starting 33 career games on the offensive line and serving as a team captain in his final season.

“To have Tom and Matt back here and to see their father come around and to have Tom’s son, Cale, on our team and doing significant things for us to contribute to this football team, it’s pretty special and neat,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “Three generations of the Luke family have represented the great Red and Blue at Ole Miss.”

As for the third generation, Cale found a way to make a huge impact while wearing the Ole Miss colors. In the 2015 Vanderbilt game, Ole Miss’ offense was stagnant for much of the game, and the Rebels found themselves in a tie game with the Commodores. Late in the third quarter, Cale proved to be the difference in the stalemate, blocking a punt that led to Ole Miss regaining the lead for good.

“He started doing things in practice, playing hard when he walked across the line and going hard in scout team,” Tom said. “To see it all come true in the Vanderbilt game for him to block the punt in a crucial time at that stage in the game, it’s special.”

Of course, his uncle had to continue coaching, but the moment was special for him as well.

“You try not to let your emotions (get to you), especially in a game,” Matt said. “You’re trying to win the game. I was so happy for him because he worked so hard to try to do anything he could to help the team.”

The Luke family is a Mississippi family that continues to make a lasting mark on the flagship university of their home state.

“To be able to represent Ole Miss being a graduate and a coach and a player, just being around it is special,” Matt said. “It may make it a little tougher during the hard times, but it sure makes it special when we can represent the University of Mississippi at the highest level.”

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