Ole Miss and Matt Luke have finally filled their linebackers coach void with the hiring of Jon Sumrall, the assistant head coach/linebackers coach/special teams coordinator at Troy. He spent the last three seasons at Troy, grew up in Huntsville, Ala. and played his college ball at Kentucky.
He began his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant in Lexington before leaving for a job on the University of San Diego’s staff. There, he coached outside linebacker/defensive end Eric Bakhtiari to a Walter Camp first team All-American and Associated Press first team All-American season before he was eventually signed by the now defunct San Diego Chargers.
OFFICIAL | @CoachMattLuke has added @CoachJonSumrall to coaching staff. Sumrall will coach linebackers. Welcome to the family Coach Sumrall. #HottyToddy— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) January 23, 2018
The former SEC letterman also coached Mario Kurn who was a first team All-American by Phil Steele and a second team All-American by the Associated Press. During that season, his first as defensive coordinator, the defense was 1st in scoring defense, total defense, run defense, and third-down defense in FCS’ Pioneer League. The next year, Sumrall’s defense was 15th nationally in stopping the run, 13th in pass efficiency defense, 4th in sacks, and 16th in third-down defense.
Sumrall worked for the Toreros from 2007-2011 where he was a defensive line coach, linebackers coach, and a defensive coordinator, as well as overseeing all recruiting strategies. He then left for New Orleans and was Tulane’s defensive line coach and eventually their co-defensive coordinator for three seasons.
After he made the move to the Crescent City, the Green Wave’s defense saw an impressive jump in productivity. In 2013, the Wave’s defense was 22nd nationally in total defense, and 11th in red zone defense. That year’s work got him the accolade of being named a finalist for FootballScoop’s Defensive Line Coach of the Year.
Then, after leaving Tulane for Troy and becoming a part of Neal Brown’s staff, the Trojan defense once again became much more effective. In 2016, the Trojans finished 46th in S&P+, including top statistical marks such as 12th in success rate, 17th in havoc, 31st in front seven havoc, and 18th in defensive back havoc.
In this year’s upset win in Death Valley, Sumrall’s linebackers played a key role in holding Ed Orgeron’s backs to just 105 yards rushing, zero touchdowns, and they forced four turnovers in a 24-21 win over then-No. 25 LSU.
Troy’s record-breaking 11-2 season was largely because of Sumrall’s defense and linebackers that helped orchestrate a 17th finish nationally in S&P+, 8th in havoc, and 14th in front seven havoc. The Trojans won the Sun Belt and the New Orleans Bowl this year behind a salty defense, led by Sumrall.
Bill Connelly’s advanced statistical profile for Troy shows just how impressive Jon’s unit was last season for Neal Brown.
Troy finished top 40 in efficiency, explosiveness, AND finishing drives where they were tops in the country.
The rushing stats are just as impressive. Top 75 in every category including top 10 finishes in Rushing IsoPPP and stuff rate. This should come with open arms to Ole Miss fans who have seen the Rebs struggle week after week at stopping the run.
Through the air, Sumrall’s linebackers and defense weren’t as spectacular against the pass, but still good enough for top 60 in all four categories. Hopefully under his leadership, Ole Miss’ linebackers can finally figure out how to stop a tight end running a crossing route.
Lastly, the key stats that jump out to me here are the havoc statistics. Ole Miss has plenty of havoc-worthy players on its defense, and we begged them to be as chaotic as possible last season, but alas, they played your standard 4-3 defense under Wesley McGriff.
Sumrall’s defense was especially chaotic and finished among the top 35 defenses in havoc at all three levels.
Seems okay to me.
Now look, Sumrall isn’t the big-time household name from a Power 5 program that everyone might want, but his resume is stacked with example after example of him inheriting a less-than-stellar situation and turning it into an effective and aggressive defense that not only produces results, but develops the players as well.
Ole Miss has capable bodies on its roster, but they need someone to put them in position to succeed and to learn how to effectively operate within a defense. And Jon Sumrall is someone that has shown he can do that.
Now that it’s official, it will be exciting to see Jon get to work and start repairing the Landshark Defense brand.