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Matt Luke already paying dividends for the Tigers

Justin Robertson
New offensive line coach Matt Luke pictured guiding his unit at a practice in December.

When Clemson’s head coach, Dabo Swinney, spoke to the media in December for the first time after firing offensive line coach Thomas Austin, he said he felt a change was needed. In less than two months since that change was made, new offensive line coach Matt Luke is already making a difference on the recruiting trail.

Before Swinney brought Luke into the fold, Clemson’s offensive line recruiting had been taking a beating. With Austin at the helm, the Tigers struggled to land top offensive line recruits in the 2024 class and, for one reason or another, missed out on 16 of the 20 recruits they offered. Unlike the other position groups, it seemed as if Clemson was forced to extend late offers to players who weren’t initially on the team’s radar.

Flash forward several weeks, and Luke and the rest of the coaching staff are set to welcome a star-studded roundup of 2025 offensive line recruits to this weekend’s Elite Junior Day. Five-star offensive tackle David Sanders Jr., four-star tackle Brayden Jacobs and four-star interior lineman Mason Short are a few noteworthy prospects expected to attend.

Sanders, Jacobs and Short are the type of recruits who Luke likes to target, as he explained in his introductory press conference in December.

“I’m going to initially identify them with size, athleticism, toughness; I want to see them jump off the tape, and we’re going to build it starting there,” Luke said. “Once we find that group, we’re going to dig in, and we’re going to get to know them as people and try to build that relationship. As you get to know them, you’ll know pretty quickly which guys fit with you.”

Based on Luke’s illustrious recruiting history, Clemson could easily be in contention for all of this weekend’s attendees. During his time at Ole Miss and Georgia, he brought in numerous five-star linemen, such as Laremy Tunsil, Greg Little and Broderick Jones, all of whom were drafted in the first or second rounds of the NFL draft.

Clemson’s offensive line group has struggled over the past few seasons. Even with four of the five original starters from 2023 returning this fall, the unit’s depth and performance on the field could benefit from Luke’s presence.

When it comes to the long-term future of the offensive line, Clemson has only landed one offensive lineman, four-star tackle Easton Ware, in the 2025 cycle thus far, so this weekend provides an opportunity for Luke to bolster his room and make an impression on some of the most promising talent there is in high school football.

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Justin Robertson
Justin Robertson, Associate Editor
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