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February 20, 2013

Summers for USC O-line




Out of the blue, almost literally, USC has found its new offensive line coach and run game boss in veteran Mike Summers, most recently the O-line coach and run game coordinator at Kentucky the last three years where he coached with USC wide receivers coach Tee Martin.

While USC hasn't officially announced the hiring, Summers announced himself Tuesday evening after he'd signed his contract by contacting Trojans offensive linemen. Zach Banner tweeted the word out but it appears the first player contacted was senior John Martinez, a player Summers knew from recruiting him when Summers coached at Arkansas.

According to reports of that conversation, Summers talked about getting the USC O-line back to being physical and getting after people. Just what many critics of last year's offense will love to hear.

Summers is something of a surprise hire for two reasons. USC was known to be actively involved with Atlanta Falcons O-line coach and former Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. And Summers, after his UK coaching staff had been dismissed at season's end, had agreed to return to his old Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino's new staff at Western Kentucky.

It's not absolutely clear yet what Summers' title and job responsibilities will exactly entail as USC must still hire at least two, possibly three, more coaches. What the future holds for previous O-line coach James Cregg is not certain although most seem to agree there will be a spot on the 2013 staff for him, possibly the tight ends coaching position vacated by grad assistant Justin Mesa.

Summers is clearly well thought of in the business and not just by the coaches who have hired him. Here's a comment today from the UK Rivals site's football beat reporter, Ben Jones". . . another former UK assistant gets a primetime job. And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Summers was one of the best coaches I ever worked around. Wish him nothing but luck."

When Summers talks offense, his 33-year resume backs it up. The former Georgetown (Ky.) College football player has pretty much done it all and at every level. He's coached in the Pac-12 (at Oregon State), in the Big-12 (Oklahoma State), in the SEC (Kentucky, Arkansas), in Conference USA and the Big East (Louisville), in the Mid-American (Ohio, Northern Illinois) and at Division III Sewanee (University of the South).

He's been an assistant head coach at Oregon State, Arkansas and Sewanee, offensive coordinator (Northern Illinois, Oregon State), run game coordinator (Kentucky), offensive line coach (Kentucky, Louisville, Arkansas, Atlanta Falcons), tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator (Oklahoma State) and a graduate assistant (Kentucky, Texas A&M).

One of his current players, Kentucky guard Larry Warford, is expected to be a first-round draft pick this April and is the result of a Kentucky run game that was the lone bright spot for the Wildcats after recording a 6.1-yard average in 2010, third-best in school history, and good for 406 points, second-highest all-time at UK.

The Arkansas team where he was assistant head coach in 2009 led the SEC in offense and produced two NFL O-linemen, Jonathan Luigs and Mitch Petrus. His Louisville teams produced as many as three All-Big East first-team linemen a season while finishing as high as second in the nation on offense and appearing in the Orange, Gator, Liberty and GMAC bowls.

At Oregon State, where he was also recruiting coordinator his first season, Summers coached teams that led the Pac-12 in rushing four straight years and was named as the Pac-10's top "offensive backfield coach" in 1993. The Northern Illinois teams where he was coordinator set 51 school and seven NCAA records.

A native of Lexington, Ky., Summers is married to the former Kathy Hall, the daughter of retired Kentucky national championship-winning basketball coach Joe B. Hall. They have a daughter, Amy Lawyer and son-in-law, Ben Lawyer.

Dan Weber covers the Trojans program for USCFootball.com. You can reach him at weber@uscfootball.com.


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