Cougar Profile: Justin Luettgerodt

It has been a bumpy ride for Justin Luettgerodt since arriving in Provo. Now getting reps with the first team defense, the high energy linebacker talks about his physical trials and how they've given him a whole knew outlook on playing football.

Ever since Justin Luettgerodt came to BYU it has been one challenge after another physically. The senior outside linebacker came to BYU from Foothill Junior College, and on the day he was given the green light to participate with the Cougar football team, he blew his ACL on the basketball court.

"Aw, I mean it's been a long off and there was about five months there where I had surgery after surgery after surgery. I mean, after Christmas I had surgery and it was great. I lost like forty five pounds. I came in at 253 the last couple of days (spring practice) and then just the other day I came in at 218," Luettgerodt said.

After multiple surgeries to repair the ligaments in his knee, Luettgerodt does not want to simply come back to attain the 100% physical status of his sophomore year while at junior college. He expects to go beyond anything he has done while playing at any level.

"I know what I can do and I gotta go out there and do it, and I'm nowhere where I want to be, you know," Luettgerodt said. "I want to be back to where I was and plus some. I'm not trying to chase my tail you know what I mean."

So far his knee has held up and felt the best it has for quite some time.

"Well it's night and day difference compared to this year and last year," said Luettgerodt. "You know last year I only played like sixteen weeks on this ACL and this year I've played a lot longer on it than that."

Much of his rehab success has come from a change in his rehab routines with a combination of both weight lifting and other non-traditional methods.

"Rehab wise, I just switched it up and did a lot of different stuff," Luettgerodt said. "I did a lot of boxing and a lot of different kinds of techniques. I did about three months of boxing in the off-season, but rehab feels good and I feel solid right now and a lot different, a lot different. I mean, I still have a little grind I still got to get through, but I hope come game day it's going to feel like a whole another story."

Another reason for his speedy progress and desire to be the best player he can possibly be comes for the direct influence of head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

"He's the reason why I came to BYU in the first place and I was thrilled to have him here as our head coach," said Leuttgerodt. "As a coach I know what he stands for and what he expects out of me and every player on this team. I like that intensity and that work ethic. If you don't do it right you gotta get it right, you know what I mean. It's not all politics, it's all effort on every play and I love it. I'm excited and looking forward to the next practice so I can come out here and make more plays. Like I said, every single day I want to make a play. It's not about the next day thing man, I've got to make more plays."

Although he is much improved and is now garnering reps with the first team, Luettgerodt still does not know exactly when he will reach that magical status where he feels he has finally reached above and beyond any of his previous on field performances.

"There's no way to say," said Luettgerodt. "I just got to go out there and bust my butt every single day, play for my teammates and just have fun and that's all I'm doing right now."

From his personal physical trials, Luettgerodt has gained a whole new outlook on playing football.

"After all I've been through, you have a whole different outlook on life, and you begin to play for a different reason," said Luettgerodt. "You try to play every play like it's your last play, and you try to play for your teammates and that's what I'm doing right now. I mean, it's a whole new mind set for me."

During recent scrimmaging, Luettgerodt has both muscled and hustled his way back onto the first team defense despite his personal view that he still needs to improve. To help him reach that personal status of where he wants to be, Luettgerodt has a friend and mentor in middle linebacker Cameron Jensen.

"Oh, he holds it down man," Luettgerodt said of Jensen. "The defense goes out from there at all angles. He's a stud and I try to use him as a role model of course playing on and off the field. One thing we've got this year, and it's not a knock on any coaches by any means, but I got talking to Cameron and we really feel more accountable with each other for messing up or doing something wrong than we do the coaches. That I really think started with him last year from being solid as a rock."

Another player that has gained quit a bit of first team reps is junior outside linebacker Gary Lovely. Luettgerodt received a lot of support from Lovely during his personal trials and physical rehabilitation.

"Oh yeah Gary is looking good and it's fun, if you know what I mean," said Luettgerodt. "Gary's been there for me the whole time during all my surgeries and everything. I don't even think about it anymore and that's how I've got to look at it. I've got to put it past me really quick, and it might get me into trouble with my head thinking I'm still the same but that's always how I thought about my comeback. It's going to be a load and it'll come quick and I've just got to go out there and bust my butt and make an improvement every single day. I've got to get better."

Over the past spring and summer, the linebacker corps has grown together into a more unified group from Mendenhall's off-season workout program. Luettgerodt feels the linebackers are now playing for each other rather than for themselves.

"It's a lot more team oriented," Luettgerodt said. "Like, we are really helping each other out a lot more. I think last year, and I can't really say in comparison to most schools, but I would say in comparison to this year, there were a lot more individuals on this team last year trying to go out and get their own. Now it's more just helping each other out and let's just go out and play together."

Luettgerodt expects to make one last, big impact during his final year at BYU and wanted to send this message to BYU fans everywhere.

"Stay with us BYU fans because you're going to have a hell of a ride this year," Luettgerodt concluded.

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