CORVALLIS- Rubber pellets flying in the air, echoes of struggle engulf the building, it’s a typical 7 a.m. for Quarterback Jake Luton and the Oregon State football team inside of the Martin Truax indoor center at Oregon State University.
”LET’S GO BOYS” echoes Luton, rallying his teammates to push through spring conditioning for the day, insisting the hard work is going to pay off come fall. Luton takes a snap from the center, squares his shoulders, adjusts his feet, aligns his eyes towards wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins, and delivers a dime right to the Beaver logo in Isaiah’s gloves. four months ago, this was a scene void from practice, and the thought of even throwing a pass was tough for Luton to swallow.
In the span of 12 months, QB 1 Jake Luton has been through a rollercoaster with highs and lows. Arriving in December 2017, Luton was given 2 years of eligibility at OSU to get a shot. He wasted no time settling in. After an impressive spring/summer practice, Luton was given the role of starter in August. He started his first 3 games with impressive numbers for a first time Pac-12 player, throwing for 647 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions heading into the match-up against Washington State. He then suffered a season ending back injury that game, but his leadership and drive to return was notable. He now looks to bounce back this spring, starting with conditioning
”The recovery was a long process and there’s still some things i’m working through, but overall i’m feeling good and ready for spring ball.” said Luton.
on Sept. 16th 2017, Luton was attempting to rally his team morale against the Washington State Cougars in Pullman, Washington early in the fourth quarter. The score read 49-16 in favor of WSU, but that didn’t matter to him. Luton needed to lead his new team to walk out of Pullman with some sort of image. The image he left for his team wasn’t the one he had hoped to leave.
Third-and-10, Luton grabbed the snap and scanned the field. Washington State had a firm grip on the wideouts and had the field covered. The only way Luton was saving the drive was by taking the ball and scrambling. He took off right, stiff armed an oncoming defender, and slided to avoid an oncoming hit. A large crack was heard throughout the stadium as the defender slammed into a defenseless Luton. For the next 5 minutes, Luton was unresponsive, with teammates checking on him and trainers rushing to his side. Luton was transported to a local hospital in Pullman soon after
Luton learned he had suffered a Thoracic Spine Fracture, a fracture that occurs near the middle of the spine at areas T11 and T12. The time table for return wasn’t given at the time of the injury, but many assumed that he wouldn’t see the turf before his 2018 season. Throwing the ball at all was not an option for the foreseeable future.
”Not being able to play with my team every week hurt the most” said Luton
Luton was unable to help his team through the rest of the season while in rehab with trainers and doctors. His injury affected the team significantly, losing all 8 remaining games, 6 by 15 points or more. Despite this, Luton was always motivating his team and providing a leader type role for not only the other quarterbacks, but the rest of the guys.
”He helped us big time, set us straight all season for sure.” Said WR Isaiah Hodgins
Hodgins is one of many new talented members of the Beaver offense, and has loved working with Luton the moment the two arrived in Corvallis in late 2016.
”Out of the quarterbacks we got, Luton is definitely my favorite to throw around with.” said Hodgins, moments after they finished the annual 2017 Spring Game.
Today, Luton has made a return as a healthy leader as if there was hardly any injury, and is leading the team through conditioning with his vocal attitude; consistently reminding the team of the past seasons nightmares.
Luton’s leadership is a characteristic that has been with him his whole life, dating back to before he fell in love with football. Before the turf, Luton was a deadly pitcher in high school, throwing a 96 MPH fastball at one point in his career.
”Baseball was my first love and it was what I wanted to do until my junior year of high school” said Luton
Luton originally had a choice to play baseball all summer or start up football in various college camps to get his name out, and he quickly chose football. Many people would tell you Luton is a better baseball player, but he knew he had a passion for football and wanted to carry it into college, even professionally. Crafting both sports his senior year was difficult, but helped him become more unique with his throwing motion for both sports
”Being both a pitcher and quarterback is tough, in baseball you have a long throwing motion, whereas in football you’re forced to make short quick releases.” said Luton
Leadership values from both sports transitioned into his time at Idaho, where he posted 383 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions as a redshirt freshman, the numbers skyrocketed once he arrived at Ventura, throwing for 3,551 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
Luton chose OSU as his final transfer spot near the end of Gary Andersen’s tenure for it’s shift to a pro-style offense that needs a tall QB with an arm. Despite going through a major injury, his demeanor hasn’t changed one bit from when he arrived, and still plans to make a name for himself on the field.
With one season left, Luton isn’t going to let his injury hold him back whatsoever, and plans on surprising the college football world with a turnaround that nobody will be expecting
”This is my senior year and I want to make sure that I leave this program with a winning season, a bowl win, and have it heading into the right direction for years to come under Coach Smith and the rest of the staff” added Luton
On some brisk nights, you can see the football field at Corvallis High School lit up like a beacon. Take a closer look, and you’ll see Luton repeating drills and improving on his light footwork, barely making a sound and whizzing past the ladder on the ground without even touching it. He moves out of the ladder and fires a spiral that looks to be on a rope, with the ball seemingly gaining tracking ability towards it’s target. Five months ago, Luton struggled to even move through a ladder and work on footwork. With spring practice only a few weeks away, Luton has improvised after a bad season, adapted to his new staff, and overcome an injury that some would call career ending. His leadership and strength behind his words promotes poise and optimism for the Beavers, and will be shown in the upcoming weeks
Links: Jake Luton Twitter