Profile: Cooper Lutz
High School: Reading (Pa.) Berks Catholic
Scouting Report: Lutz is a very intriguing prospect because of his versatility, and he is made even more intriguing because he will change positions in college and play in a fast-paced, throw-the-ball offense in which the short passing game is crucial.
At Berks Catholic, Lutz plays running back (he actually lines up at wing back) and runs the ball to the edge. He is either stretching the field to the sideline, or getting just past the offensive tackle, picking a hole and getting up the field.
Then, he accelerates quickly, and most significantly, he gets north-south in a hurry. He is keen to make positive yards rather than dance around to make a big play.
Defensively, Lutz is a safety who accelerates well and drives to the ball. He reacts well in pass coverage but he is not asked to play a lot of man-to-man. He does a good job of tracking the ball.
So, what makes this evaluation so much fun?
Lutz is heading to Syracuse to play slot receiver, so it is a pure projection since he only has 18 catches in three years of high school football and he does not line up much at receiver.
He could also be a college safety. However, based on his body type and skill set, slot receiver makes sense.
So here are a few things that translate well from high school running back/safety to college receiver.
His ability to accelerate and his body controls suggest he will get in and out of breaks well, but he will have to make sure he is tight on his routes. His acceleration and penchant for turning and getting up the field quickly means he can pick up key yards after the catch. Can he beat a jam? It is a technique he must learn.
He runs well, so in the open field he can make big plays.
As a safety, he reads the quarterback well and tracks the ball. Getting his head around quick, locating the ball and securing a catch are the next steps.
But there is no way to replicate or transfer his skill set to actually catching the ball, but he is a good athlete with a strong work ethic, so the dots can be connected.
Final Analysis: This is one to trust the Orange staff in knowing what it looks for in a player, and how he will transition into the offense. Lutz needs to get into and out of his breaks well, get his head around to locate the ball and make catches in traffic and turn and get up the field. His physical skills as a running back and safety suggest he possesses the elements to do those things, but he must prove it on the field.
How quick he develops into a strong route runner will dictate how quickly he plays. Slot receivers are a key to Syracuse's offense, so to take Lutz this early in the cycle means the staff trusts its evaluation and projection.