Nick Lomax: Born to Pass

GREG BARTON HAD a strange vision this summer, an eerie case of deja-vu. It happened while the former CFL and NFL quarterback was watching some high school quarterbacks throw during his own Air Attack camp.

"It was amazing, I could almost envision being back at Civic (Stadium), watching a young Neil Lomax throw, and how impressed I was with his touch," Barton told "And watching this kid, it was like time stood still. It was scary, it was weird."

The 'kid' in question was Neil's son, Nick, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound quarterback prospect from Lake Oswego, Oregon. The transformation Nick has made this past year has made believers out of the top scouts in the Portland area, including Barton.

"Mouse Davis and I used to run quarterback camps together," said Barton. "I also used to do the radio for Portland State at that time too, when June Jones was there. I remember Mouse calling me one day and telling me, 'Hey, I recruited a kid named Neil Lomax from Lake Oswego and I'd like to have you come out with me this summer to watch and judge these quarterbacks. He points out Lomax and asked me what I thought. I told him that I was impressed with him, especially with the touch he had on his throws. Mouse Davis was worried about his arm strength. I told him, 'Coach, I've been watching him for an hour and he hasn't missed a pass'. He started that fall at Portland State as a freshman and the rest is history.

"When I was watching his son throw, I swear on a million bibles that I was watching his father. The first day I saw Neil Lomax throw and Nick throw - they are identical. The only difference is that Nick is 6-foot-7. But their passes, their touch, is the same. He can throw a 20-yard out with touch. Neil was a late developer. He developed as he was going into college. Nick is developing about 6 months earlier than his father did. And another difference is that Nick is a lot better athlete than his Dad was."

That's heady praise for someone that has yet to play a significant amount in high school yet, let alone college. And when talking about the elder Lomax and his career at Portland State, it's the stuff of legend. Starting three games as a true freshman, at one time Lomax held over 90 NCAA Division I-AA records and is still the only quarterback to throw for seven touchdowns in one quarter. In 1980, he threw for more than 4,000 yards and 37 touchdowns and was MVP of the 1981 Senior Bowl, finishing seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He still hold the D1-AA record for most games in a career with over 300 yards passing - 28. Neil then went on to a ten-year NFL career, earning All-Pro honors twice.

Another former coach that is now fully on the Nick Lomax bandwagon is Dick Coury, the father of current L-O coach Steve Coury. Dick has a storied coaching career, starting at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, then moving on to stints at Cal-State Fullerton, USC and then on to the World Football League. After that he bounced back between the NFL and USFL for a third of a century. "We were watching Nick throw and I told Dick the story about Neil Lomax and Mouse Davis," Barton said. "He told me that last year he wouldn't have given Nick a chance at doing anything. But this year, it's amazing how things have changed. He couldn't believe this was the same kid he saw last year. He thinks Nick is going to be a big-time quarterback, and that's coming from someone that has been in the NFL for over thirty years. And when I asked him what he meant by 'big-time', he said NFL. He said that Nick has 'got it'."

"People say, 'Nick, he's the son of former All-Pro Neil Lomax', but there really wasn't that much pressure because I'm a totally different person than my Dad," Nick told Monday night. "He even said himself that at his age he wasn't as developed as I am now and I have a stronger arm. I don't look to him to measure myself, it's pretty much the expectations of myself. I had a great summer workout with the team, so my own expectations were really high.

"This summer was a great opportunity for me and that's when it clicked for me that I might have a good season this fall. I really worked out hard for football. Basketball is right up there with football too, so I'm not really sure what I want to do as far as college goes. I'm getting a lot of interest in both sports."

How would Nick critique himself? "Obviously the first thing that stands out about me is my height, so you'd be able to pick me out pretty easily," he said. "I have poise out there, the team relies on me. I have great leadership. I have a good arm, which is needed and I'm quick and agile for my size. I can avoid the rush pretty well and can run well for the size that I am. I have good vision. I can see the receivers and know the combination routes. Maybe even here and there I'll take a chance and squeeze one in there that maybe other guys wouldn't think of doing."

Lomax could not have picked a better time for his football coming-out party, as L-O is currently 3-0 and ranked number-two in the state of Oregon. "We are 180 degrees from last year," he said. "Last year it was run, run, run and when we had to we would pass it. This year it's so different. I have some great receivers in Kevin Maher and Ryan Hilliard. They are just amazing. We're throwing a lot more and taking advantage of the athletes we have. It's been a blessing to play with those types of guys, they are D1 prospects too.

"The expectations we have on ourselves is that we have to win the state championship. The question marks going in were at quarterback and running back. The past couple of years we had (Mike) Stutes, he did a great job here. They were looking for someone to fill the quarterback spot. It's not like they put pressure on me, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and fill that spot. Fortunately things have clicked and come together for us."

A lot of the timing can be attributed to Nick's body finally catching up with itself. "I hadn't fully grown into my body last year," said Lomax. "My muscles were still trying to catch up with my bones. As I grew into my body, I started to figure things out and I gained a lot of confidence by working out hard this summer. Maybe I had the skills to start last year but I didn't have the right mindset because I wasn't as confident. Now that I know that I'm the guy, it really helps my confidence and I'm able to play a lot better because of it."

So far, so good. Lomax has thrown for over 100 yards in each game, with a high of 250 yards and 5 touchdowns this past weekend against West Linn, with four strikes going to Hilliard. "They are a good team and played well," Lomax said of West Linn, who has some D1 talent of their own with linemen Ben Loebner and Ryne Holstrom. "The score doesn't show how close it could have been. There was a huge play we had at the end of the half, and if it had gone the other way it would have been a huge shift in momentum."

So will the hype on Lomax's abilities reach the college level? It sounds like word is starting to spread. Because of his rigorous schedule, Nick was only able to visit one college this summer - Oregon State. But first he'll need to decide whether or not football or basketball is his future calling. A lot of that will hinge on interest coming from the other end. "It depends on what letters I receive from colleges," he said. "If I get a letter from a dream school in basketball, I'll take that. It pretty much depends on the school, and if it's a scholarship what kind of scholarship I'll get."

For football, Washington State, Oregon State and USC appear to be showing serious interest, and in basketball Lomax is receiving a lot of DII and DIII attention. He mentioned Linfield as one school he's received a lot of letters from.

"Tulsa and a couple of other schools that are out of the way have asked me to come down, but it's awfully hard to make it down to a Saturday game when we play Friday night and practice on Saturday," he said. "But if something works out, I'd like to take advantage of it."

To that end, Lomax would like to go to games at the four northwest Pac-10 schools, as well as USC if possible. He has no offers in either sport yet.

And then there's Portland State, the school where his father made a name for himself. "They've shown significant interest," Nick said of the Vikings. "They've written on all the letters I get from them that they would love to keep the Lomax tradition alive. If Portland State ends up being the only school that offers me a scholarship, I wouldn't mind going there and re-setting the records there."

There are two schools that the younger Lomax would love to hear more from. "I'm an Oregon fan, but one school that I would love to go to is Hawaii," he said. "My Dad knows June Jones, and Mouse Davis is there too. And their strength coach came to L-O and helped us during our summer workouts, so we are kind of connected to the Hawaii program. I'd love to go there."

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