Cutcliffe Adds Seven To Duke Football Coaching Staff

Friday, January 4, 2008 - by special report from Duke Sports Information

DURHAM, N.C. ­ Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe announced on Friday the addition of seven coaches to the Blue Devil staff.

Joining the Duke program are Ron Middleton (Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends), Kurt Roper (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks), Matt Luke (Running Game Coordinator/Offensive Line), Zac Roper (Recruiting Coordinator/Running Backs), Jim Collins (Linebackers), Derek Jones (Defensive Backs) and Scottie Montgomery (Wide Receivers).

Five of the seven additions ­ Jones, Luke, Middleton, Kurt Roper and Zac Roper ­ worked alongside Cutcliffe at Ole Miss while Collins (1983; 1985-89) and Montgomery (2006-07) served on previous Duke coaching staffs.

Cutcliffe announced the hiring of defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre on January 2. MacIntyre, who worked with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets over the past five seasons, also spent time with Cutcliffe at Ole Miss.

"I’m really proud to talk about the seven additions to our football staff," Cutcliffe said. "As I look at this I always ask myself initially, ‘Are these men that I would want dealing with my own children?’ In this case, absolutely I would, is the answer. They come from all over; the National Football League and other outstanding institutions. They come to Duke University with great energy and a great attitude. I’ve worked with many of them in the past quite extensively. With all of them, I know them well and I’m really, really excited about the chemistry of this staff. As a group of men, I don’t think it could get any better."

Middleton joins the Duke gridiron coaching staff following one season as an assistant coach at Alabama where he handled the Crimson Tide’s tight ends and special teams.

"Ron Middleton is one of the best on the field coaches I’ve ever seen," said Cutcliffe. "He has great energy and great intensity. He worked with me at Ole Miss and we lost him to [the] Tampa Bay [Buccaneers] and he’s been at Alabama for a year. He never passes up a chance to coach; he’s always teaching and always coaching. He had an extensive career as a player in the National Football League and played for a fine man in Pat Dye at Auburn University; Pat is the one who first recommended Ron to me. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Ron Middleton as tight ends, special teams and associate head coach. He has a big role on this staff."

Middleton helped the Crimson Tide to a 7-6 overall record and 30-24 victory over Colorado in the Independence Bowl. Under his direction, Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin totalled 111 points ­ the second-highest single-season point total in Tide history ­ with a school single-season record 25 field goals along with 36 extra points. In addition, Javier Arenas ranked among the SEC’s top 10 performers in both kickoff and punt return average while tight end Nick Walker caught 23 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

The former Auburn letterman and 10-year NFL veteran served three seasons (2004-06) as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under head coach Jon Gruden. While with the Bucs, Middleton coached the tight ends and assisted with special teams and helped Tampa Bay to the 2005 NFC South Division championship.

Middleton spent five seasons (1999-03) on the coaching staff at Mississippi working along side Cutcliffe. While with the Rebels, Middleton coached the tight ends for three years (1999-01) and running backs for two campaigns (2002-03) and served as the special teams coordinator. Ole Miss participated in four bowl games during Middleton’s tenure, and the Atmore, Ala., native mentored kicker Jonathan Nichols, who set 15 school records, earned All-SEC honors and captured the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top placekicker in 2003. That season, Nichols booted 24-of-28 field goal attempts and all 45 of his point after touchdown tries en route to scoring an Ole Miss single-season record 117 points.

Also in 2003, Mississippi punter Cody Ridgeway garnered second team All-SEC accolades while the Rebels paced the league in net punting, kickoff returns, field goals, and PAT kicking.

Before joining Cutcliffe at Ole Miss, Middleton spent two seasons (1997-98) at Troy, coaching the tight ends, offensive tackles and assisted with special teams. He also spent time in private business, serving as vice president of American Communications.

A four-year letterwinning tight end at Auburn from 1982-85, Middleton helped the Tigers to a four-year ledger of 37-12 with four bowl game appearances that produced three victories. In 1983, Auburn posted an 11-1 record, won the SEC title and defeated Michigan, 9-7, in the Sugar Bowl. Middleton earned a degree in pre-law/history from Auburn in 1988 and later received a master’s degree in sports and fitness management from Troy in 1998.

Middleton’s professional playing career spanned 10 seasons with five organizations. Undrafted out of Auburn, he played two years (1986-87) with the Atlanta Falcons before joining the Washington Redskins for the 1988 campaign. Following one season (1989) with the Cleveland Browns, Middleton returned to the Redskins for a four-year tenure that included a 37-24 victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI. He finished his career playing single campaigns with the Los Angeles Rams (1994) and San Diego Chargers (1995).

Middleton, who was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training camp coaching staff in 2003 as a part of the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, was selected by Gruden in 2006 to attend the NFL’s Coaches Career Development Symposium. In addition, Middleton joined with other Tampa Bay coaches to host the 2004 High School Coaching Academy, a one-day clinic designed to elevate the quality of football coaching at the prep level.

A coaching veteran who has spent time on staffs at three SEC schools, Kurt Roper comes to the Duke program after serving the past two years at Tennessee where he coached the running backs. The Volunteers produced 19 wins against eight losses from 2006-07 with one SEC Eastern Division crown and a pair of berths in the Outback Bowl.

"Kurt Roper and I have been together a long time," said Cutcliffe. "He was hand-picked by me when I went to Ole Miss to be the quarterbacks coach. He has sat through many meetings with me; meetings with quarterbacks. You know you’re always supposed to hire people that are smarter than you are and Kurt qualifies there. I think he’s one of the better minds in college football. The reason he is an offensive coordinator now is that he has an unbelievable understanding of protection, the running game and the passing game. I’m looking forward to Kurt Roper’s offenses breaking all of David Cutcliffe’s numbers and records throughout the years."

Tennessee’s rushing attack in 2007 was featured by Arian Foster, who gained 1,193 yards on 245 carries while scoring 12 touchdowns on the ground. On the Volunteer single-season record charts, Foster’s numbers landed him fourth in rushing attempts, tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns and ninth in yards. In addition, he had five 100-yard rushing games on the year and his 98-yard, three-touchdown performance against Georgia helped Tennessee defeat the then 12th-ranked Bulldogs, 35-14. A junior in 2007, Foster currently ranks seventh on UT’s all-time rushing list with 2,394 career yards.

Kurt Roper got his start in coaching at Tennessee, serving as a graduate assistant coach from 1996-98 while working with the Volunteer defensive and special teams units. He then followed Cutcliffe to Ole Miss and spent six years in Oxford as the Rebels went 44-29 with four bowl game victories. Mississippi enjoyed one of its finest seasons in school history in 2003 when the Rebels went 10-3, captured a share of the SEC Western Division title and defeated Oklahoma State, 31-28, in the Cotton Bowl.

While with Ole Miss, Kurt Roper coached the quarterbacks all six years and added the responsibility of passing game coordinator for his final three seasons. Among his pupils was record-setting, All-America signal-caller Eli Manning, the 2003 SEC Player of the Year who was the number one overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

In 2005, Kurt Roper coached the quarterbacks at Kentucky under head coach Rich Brooks.

In all, Kurt Roper has coached in nine bowl games: 1997 Florida Citrus, 1998 Orange, 1998 Independence, 1999 Independence, 2000 Music City, 2002 Independence, 2004 Cotton, 2007 Outback and 2008 Outback.

A native of Ames, Iowa, Kurt Roper earned three varsity letters on the gridiron as a defensive back and quarterback at Rice before graduating in 1995. He went on to earn a master’s degree from Tennessee in 1998.

Kurt Roper is married to the former Britt Albertson of High Point, N.C.

Like Kurt Roper, Luke joins the Blue Devils following two seasons at Tennessee where he served as recruiting coordinator while coaching the tight ends and assisting with the offensive line.

"I coached Matt in one game [at Ole Miss]; he was our starting center in the 1998 Independence Bowl," said Cutcliffe. "He was a tremendously competitive player, but there is one thing I remember the most. We went into that bowl game having to transition and learn the previous staff’s terminology and make it fit our plays. Matt Luke knew everything about everything. I’ve never been around a non-quarterback that knew what he knew about football. I knew I wanted him to coach for me. He stayed on as a student assistant for a year then went on as a full-time offensive line coach and I was able to hire him back at Ole Miss and then was able to entice him to Tennessee. He’s one of those kinds of guys that wherever you go, you want Matt Luke with you."

During Luke’s two-year stay (2006-07) in Knoxville, the Volunteers went 19-8 with one SEC Eastern Division championship and two appearances in the Outback Bowl. In 2007, Tennessee tight end Chris Brown caught 41 passes for 282 yards and six touchdowns while fellow end Brad Cottam’s 31-yard touchdown reception proved to be the difference in the Vols’ 21-17 win over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

On the recruiting front, Tennessee’s 2007 class was rated third-best nationally by and fourth-best in the country by

A native of Gulfport, Miss., Luke lettered four seasons (1995-98) as a center at Ole Miss. A starter in 33 career games for the Rebels, he served as team captain in 1998 as Ole Miss posted a 7-5 ledger and defeated Texas Tech in the Independence Bowl. He was named the 1998 Ole Miss Most Valuable Senior by the Jackson (Miss.) Touchdown Club and twice earned Academic All-SEC honors.

Following his playing career, he served as a student assistant coach at Ole Miss under Cutcliffe in 1999, helping the Rebels to an 8-4 ledger with regular season wins against Auburn, South Carolina, LSU and Arkansas as well as a 27-25 triumph over Oklahoma in the Independence Bowl. He graduated in May of 2000 with a degree in business administration.

Luke then spent two years (2000-01) coaching the offensive line at Murray State before returning to his alma mater to guide the Rebel tight ends and offensive line for four seasons (2002-05). Ole Miss won two bowl games during that stretch, defeating Nebraska in the Independence Bowl to close the 2002 season and upending Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl a year later to cap a 10-3 campaign that included a share of the SEC Western Division championship.

Luke is married to the former Ashley Grantham of Oxford, Miss. His father, Tommy, was a defensive back at Mississippi in the 1960s while his brother, Tom, quarterbacked the Rebels from 1989-91.

Zac Roper comes to Duke after spending the last three seasons at Cornell.

"Zac Roper came through the ranks at Ole Miss, much like I did," said Cutcliffe. "Zac was a student coach for us and went on later to become a graduate assistant coach. He’s very bright and was a tremendous student in school. He has a lot of expertise in a lot of areas. He’ll be involved in our recruiting as a recruiting coordinator. He has been most recently at Cornell and I think he understands the type of young men we’re trying to bring in to Duke. I think Zac will do a tremendous job and help us offensively as well as in the recruiting area."

From 2005-07, Zac Roper helped the Big Red to an overall ledger of 16-14. He coached the running backs and tight ends during his first two seasons before switching to cornerbacks in 2007 and also served as special teams coordinator. Zac Roper coached or recruited eight Ivy League Player of the Week selections during his three seasons.

On the special teams front in 2007, Cornell paced the league in punt return average ­ returning two punts for touchdowns during the year ­ and kickoff coverage. The Big Red also posted touchdowns via fake field goal and kickoff return.

Coaching the running backs in 2006, Zac Roper tutored Luke Siwula, who rushed for 885 yards in 2006 en route to receiving second team All-Ivy League honors. In 2005, he mentored the tight ends as Cornell finished the year ranked 10th nationally in rushing offense.

Zac Roper’s work with the Cornell placekickers yielded zero missed point after touchdown attempts over his three seasons as A.J. Weitsman and Peter Zell combined to boot 84 consecutive extra points. In addition, Weitsman established a Cornell single-season record with 14 field goals while punter Michael Bolling downed 23-of-52 punts inside the 20 yardline without a touchback in 2005.

Prior to joining the Big Red staff, Zac Roper spent four years at Ole Miss as a graduate administrative aide and graduate assistant coach under Cutcliffe, working with the wide receivers, tight ends and placekickers. Mississippi’s 2003 squad won 10 games with a share of the SEC Western Division title and defeated Oklahoma State, 31-28, in the Cotton Bowl.

Ole Miss kicker Jonathan Nichols enjoyed a sensational season in 2003 by earning All-SEC and All-America honors while winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker. He graduated as the school’s all-time leader in total points (344) and finished his career having made 117 consecutive PATs. Punter Cody Ridgeway was an all-league choice in 2003 after ranking 11th nationally in punting average.

Zac Roper was an undergraduate assistant coach at Oklahoma under head coach John Blake from 1996-98. He graduated from Ole Miss in 2001 with a degree in political science and went on to earn a master’s degree in higher education/student personnel two years later.

A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Zac Roper is married to the former Rebecca Harvey of Bossier City, La.

Collins rejoins the Duke coaching staff for his third stint with the Blue Devils. Collins was a graduate assistant with head coach Steve Sloan in 1983 and later served five campaigns from 1985-89 under both Sloan and Steve Spurrier.

"Jim Collins is a veteran of Duke University and he remembers what it was like to go to a bowl game and be at Duke," said Cutcliffe. "That is a good thing. I’ve had to compete against Jim forever, so we’re on the same team finally. He did a tremendous job with Steve Spurrier at Florida all those years and then went on to the Washington Redskins. He’s respected as one of the finest defensive minds and defensive coaches in the country. I think he’s a great teacher of linebackers. I know how good he is at recruiting and how hard he works at it because he was so prepared and so efficient when I recruited against him. You knew that when Jim Collins was involved, all bases were covered in recruiting."

A native of Greensboro, N.C., Collins began his coaching career at Page (N.C.) High School in 1974. He then served as the defensive coordinator at Lees-McRae Junior College in 1980 before coaching the defensive backs and outside linebackers at Appalachian State from 1981-82. After one season at Duke as a graduate assistant coach, he was the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State in 1984.

In 1985, Collins returned to Durham for a five-year stint with the Blue Devils. Coaching Duke’s linebackers, he mentored Mike Junkin, a second team All-America pick in 1986 who became the school’s all-time leading tackler and was a first round selection of the Cleveland Browns in the 1987 NFL Draft. Collins served as Duke’s co-defensive coordinator in 1989 as the Blue Devils posted an 8-4 record, won seven straight games to close the regular season, captured the ACC championship and participated in the All American Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.

Collins then went with Spurrier to Florida, serving on the staff from 1990-01. During his tenure with the Gators, he worked with the linebackers, defensive ends and tight ends while also serving as recruiting coordinator as Florida compiled an overall record of 122-27-1. The successful 12-year run included the 1996 national championship with a 52-20 victory over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl as well as an 82-12 record in SEC regular season action, nine 10-win seasons, 10 campaigns ranked in the top 10 of the final Associated Press national poll, six SEC titles, 11 bowl game appearances, 81 All-America citations and 13 first round NFL Draft selections.

In 2002-03, Collins worked with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, coaching the linebackers while assisting with special teams. He then joined the staff at Marshall where he guided the defensive backs in 2004 before coordinating the defense for the next two years. In 2005, his Thundering Herd defensive unit led Conference USA in total defense while ranking 12th nationally against the pass.

During his college coaching career, Collins has participated in 13 bowl games: 1989 All American, 1992 Sugar, 1992 Gator, 1994 Sugar, 1995 Sugar, 1996 Fiesta, 1997 Sugar, 1998 Citrus, 1999 Orange, 2000 Citrus, 2001 Sugar, 2002 Orange and 2004 Fort Worth.

Collins played defensive back at Elon College before graduating in 1974 with a degree in physical education. He later earned a master’s degree in education from North Carolina A&T in 1979. He and his wife, Geri, have one daughter, Jennifer.

Jones comes to Duke after spending the 2007 season at Memphis where he coached the cornerbacks.

"Derek Jones is another Mississippi player that was a graduate assistant for me at Ole Miss," said Cutcliffe. "He’s worked for some good people, most recently for Tommy West at Memphis. He was a tremendous player and a Chucky Mullins Award winner. That is a special award in honor of a young man who lost his life playing football at the University of Mississippi; Derek is a special guy. He might be the best bright, young recruiter in the business. He’s a fierce competitor, which is what you want your secondary to be. I think Duke people will learn to love Derek as a coach and a recruiter very quickly."

Jones helped Memphis to a 7-6 overall record in 2007 ­ a five-game improvement in the win column from the previous year ­ with a berth in the New Orleans Bowl. One of Jones’ pupils, LaKeitharun Ford, was named co-MVP for the squad after posting 45 tackles and two interceptions.

In 2006, Jones coached the cornerbacks at Tulsa as the Hurricane defense ranked first in Conference USA in pass defense and total defense. Tulsa posted an 8-5 ledger that season and participated in the Armed Forces Bowl. Cornerback Nick Graham earned all-conference honors and is a current member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Prior to joining the Tulsa staff, Jones worked one season as an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State University where the Blue Raiders ranked 30th nationally against the pass.

Jones received his start in coaching at Ole Miss in 1998 as a graduate assistant for football operations and recruiting. He then served as a defensive graduate assistant coach in 1999 with the Rebels under Cutcliffe.

From 2000-04, Jones served as cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Murray State, mentoring seven all-conference selections in five years. The Racers enjoyed defensive success during Jones’ tenure, leading the Ohio Valley Conference in pass defense in 2003 and, one year later, ranking 11th nationally in total defense and 23rd nationally in scoring defense.

A native of Woodruff, S.C., Jones lettered four seasons as a cornerback at Ole Miss from 1993-96. He was a two-time second team All-SEC pick, captained the Rebels in 1996 and was selected to play in the prestigious Blue-Gray All-Star Classic following his senior campaign. He also earned All-SEC accolades in track and field as a sprinter.

Jones received a degree in public administration from Ole Miss in 1996, and then played professionally with the Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and Nashville Kats of the Arena Football League. He and his wife, Naketa, have one daughter, Madison. Jones has another daughter, Darquisha.

One of the best wide receivers ever to wear a Duke uniform, Scottie Montgomery was hired by Cutcliffe as an assistant coach to lead the wide receiving corps.

"I have learned to love Scottie Montgomery in a very short period of time," noted Cutcliffe. "His thoroughness in the discussions we had preceding his hire were what I expected from him. We have mutual friends and I’m very familiar with the area Scottie comes from, the people that were involved in his raising; I know he comes from great people and a great family. When I think of Scottie, I think of talent. I think of integrity and I think of character and I think of Duke University. I couldn’t be more excited about Scottie Montgomery continuing to be a part of this university and I hope our relationship is maintained for years to come."

A member of the coaching staff at his alma mater since 2006, Montgomery’s wide receiving unit in 2007 was headlined by second team All-ACC pick Eron Riley and senior captain Jomar Wright. Riley, who posted one of the top single-game receiving performances in Duke history with a six-catch, 235-yard, four-touchdown outing at Navy in September 22, 2007, caught 40 passes for 830 yards and nine touchdowns on the year while leading the ACC in yards per reception at 20.8. The Savannah, Ga., native will enter his final season at Duke ranking first in career yards per catch average (20.7), tied for fourth in 100-yard receiving games (5), seventh in touchdown catches (14) and eighth in receiving yards (1,720). Wright paced the Blue Devils with his 56 catches for 599 yards and five touchdowns and closed his career ranking tied for ninth in receptions (122) and ninth in yards (1,638).

As a wide receiver for the Blue Devils from 1996-99, Montgomery paced Duke in receiving three straight seasons (1997-99) and twice earned the program’s Carmen Falcone Award (1998 & 1999) as the Most Valuable Player. The Cleveland County, N.C., native joins Howard Pitt (1951-53) and Stan Crisson (1961-63) as the only Duke players to lead the program in receiving in three straight years and is one of just five two-time team MVPs in school history.

On Duke’s all-time pass receiving charts, Montgomery ranks second in receptions (171), third in yards (2,379), tied for seventh in 100-yard receiving games (4) and eighth in touchdowns (13). He caught 51 passes in both 1997 and 1999 and registered a career-high 60 receptions as a junior in 1998. The 60 catches are the most by a Duke player in a single season since All-America Clarkston Hines hauled in 61 passes during the 1989 campaign. Hines and Montgomery are the only Duke players to post three straight seasons with at least 50 receptions and 600 yards.

Montgomery’s name also is etched into the Duke record book for longest plays, ranking tied for second for pass completions with an 88-yard catch from Bobby Campbell against Vanderbilt in 1998 and fourth under kickoff returns with a 99-yard return versus Wake Forest in 1999. Heading into the 2008 season, Montgomery ranks fifth on Duke’s all-time chart for both kickoff returns (63) and kickoff return yards (1,515), while his 4,188 career all-purpose yards rank as the third-highest total in school history.

During his senior campaign in 1999, he established the school standard for all-purpose yards in a season with 1,565 ­ a mark that was broken in 2001 when Chris Douglas amassed 1,849 yards. Montgomery continues to hold two of Duke’s top 10 single-game totals for all-purpose yardage with 262 versus Vanderbilt in 1998 (7th) and 250 against Virginia in 1999 (10th). In the Vanderbilt contest, he registered 243 receiving yards, a total that stands fourth on Duke’s chart for single-game performances.

Montgomery played professionally with the NFL’s Denver Broncos (2000-02) and Oakland Raiders (2003). He is married to the former Ebony McDuffie of Detroit, Mich.

(E-mail Stan Crawley at

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