Future Coug Lutes a throwback

THE HIGH SCHOOL landscape these days is one of specialization – the two and three sport star prep athletes are becoming fewer and fewer. But does that help performance in the chosen sport at the college level, or is it actually a detriment? And what does future Cougar Brock Lutes and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller have to do with it?

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Lutes originally decided he was going to forego his senior hoops season to concentrate on a football specific training program. But with encouragement from Washington State, he changed his mind and joined the Newberg High hoops team late.

Lutes led Newberg and the Pacific Conference in scoring at 19 points per game last season. In his first game back this past Friday, Lutes scored a team-high 19 points in just over 20 minutes in a 74-70 loss.

For Cougar football fans who might lament Lutes' choice to play hoops his senior season, consider Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan and Joe Montana.

According to author Tim Wendel who wrote an autobiography on Feller, the Cleveland pitching great, Feller was adamant that the fact he worked farm chores and played different sports were intrinsic to his success.

"Two things set him off about (today's specialization)," said Wendel in an article on fanhouse.com after Feller passed away this month. "One is that once a kid starts showing ability in a given sport, we somehow make him special. Therefore if a kid is on a farm today, he's not doing as many chores as Feller did.

"Feller -- and guys like Nolan Ryan and Joe Montana -- also really believed you become a better athlete when you play different sports year-round. You're not as good if you are concentrating on one sport. The same muscles are not pounded all the time."

And there's still plenty of time for Lutes to get in loads of advance training prior to his first football season at Washington State.

"I was doing my own training program for football, that was the reason I wasn't playing basketball, but I'm still going to pick that up right after basketball ends… I've been playing basketball pretty much since I was born, and Washington State was saying I should play basketball in the first place…they were all for it," said Lutes.

LUTES SAID HE'S 6-foot-3 and about 215 pounds these days. But it's a good bet he'll look vastly different after his first year or two in the WSU strength training program.

"I've never really lifted weights before, not until about two weeks ago," said Lutes.

What position he'll play for the Cougs won't be decided until fall camp, but his first look might come at free safety.

"When I met with coach (Paul) Wulff, he said wherever I might fit best, that in camp they were going to throw me into either offense or defense…And then coach (Dave) Ungerer came to my house for my in-home and said they were (looking) at free safety," said Lutes.

If he doesn't gain a pound between now and then, Lutes, at 215, would be heavier than what any of the Cougs' safeties were listed at on the official roster this season.

"Coach Ungerer also said it's easier to move up than it is to move back, so if free safety didn't work out I'd probably move to outside linebacker. And if not there, then I'd probably move to offense (at) wide receiver, h-back, something like that," said Lutes.

LUTES SAID HE'LL play anywhere the Cougs have the greatest need and be happy doing it. Given the choice, however, it's defense.

"I like to hit," said Lutes. "...When everyone watches a game, it seems like they all watch who scores and all that. They don't give as much credit to the defense.

"But defense, I think that's where all the real men are at, (laughs), that's how I think of it."

Lutes said his recent official visit to WSU served to assure him he made the right choice.

"It was great, probably the best weekend I've ever had in my life," said Lutes. "It's just the whole team, how close everyone is, I really like all the coaches and the campus and town are great. There's a lot of love everyone shows the football program, too."

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