Ole Miss football head coach Lane Kiffin announced on Monday the addition of a new assistant coach for the offensive line.
Jake Thornton arrives in Oxford after spending the 2020 season as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Gardner-Webb. He is taking the job that was held by Randy Clements last season.
Thornton joined the Gardner-Webb staff after two seasons in the same role at FCS Tennessee Tech. There, he helped the Golden Eagles to one of the top turnarounds in the subdivision nationally in 2019.
Thornton’s offensive line cleared a path for 4,501 offensive yards in 2019 and protected one of the OVC’s most productive quarterbacks, Bailey Fisher. Guard Trevor Stephens earned Freshman All-America honors from Phil Steele following a season that saw him start 11 games. Sophomore guard Mike Rhoades was a Second Team All-OVC choice following the season.
The offensive yardage produced by the Golden Eagles in 2019 marked the second-highest total in program history for a single season.
Thornton’s line helped Stephens earn 2018 OVC Freshman of the Year honors at quarterback and a spot on the 2018 Jerry Rice Award Watch List as a finalist.
In 2017, Thornton was an offensive line graduate assistant on the 2017 National Championship staff at Alabama. The Crimson Tide defeated five top-20 teams en route to a 13-1 record and 17th national title.
Thornton started his coaching career in 2016 as offensive quality control coach and assistant offensive line coach at his alma mater, Western Carolina. That season the Catamounts produced 4,252 yards of total offense and saw quarterback Tyrie Adams earn SoCon Freshman of the Year honors.
After beginning his college playing career at Division II national stalwart Carson-Newman, Thornton transferred to Western Carolina in 2012. He began a string of 33 straight starts in 2013 and helped the Catamounts to consecutive seven-win seasons and second-place finishes in the Southern Conference.
Thornton was named First Team All-SoCon in 2014 and Second Team All-SoCon in 2015.