It’s been a long road for Jake Luton, from coast to coast with stops in between. From Washington to Idaho, California to Oregon and now sunny Florida, Luton has seen his football career bounce across the map, across scheme’s and across bumps of fate that almost derailed the entire journey.
But on Saturday, Luton found confirmation that he was on the right path when the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted the Oregon State quarterback No. 189 overall, in the sixth round.
“I think it’s only made me a better player and a better person. I think I have dealt with some adversity and I’m ready for anything that’s going to be thrown at me and just ready to compete and help the team in any way I can.”
The adversity started innocuously enough, when his experience and his dreams wouldn’t work together. Luton played high school ball in a small Washington town and ran a Wing-T offense. Wing-T is an option offense that birthed the triple option and relies on short-yardage throws, dives, bootlegs and power running. In other words, the complete opposite of a pro-style offense.
It was also the opposite of Mike Leach’s style he was implementing in Luton’s home Washington State Cougars. So instead Luton headed east and began his collegiate career in 2014 with the Idaho Vandals before spending 2015 backing up Matt Linehan. In 2016, the quarterback transferred to Ventura Community College where he threw for 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns, setting school records.
He then transferred to Oregon State and finally his career was ready to take off. It was going well enough for the first four games and then Luton found himself being carted off the field in the fourth quarter during an eventual loss to Washington State. He had suffered a thoracic spine injury and missed the rest of the season. He started the 2018 season but missed four games in the middle of the stretch with an ankle injury. Luton returned for the final five games of the year.
“I’ve dealt with a little but like a lot of guys have and I think that’s only going to help me,” explained Luton while on a call with local media following his draft selection.
“This is a tough league to make it in, but I think adversity will help me stick and have a successful career.”
Then came 2019. It was the year in FBS Luton had been looking to have and did so at the perfect time. He finished with a 28-3 touchdown to interception ratio and a 62% completion percentage, becoming one of three finalists for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year.
“I think that the coaches take a lot of merit in quarterbacks that take care of the football. Every player brings their own skill set to the table. Mine is that I can stay in the pocket and throw the ball over the field and I take care of the ball. The athleticism is never something that I’ll shine at, but I can really help the team in other ways. I think taking care of the football and not turn it over is a huge one as a QB decision.”
That time in the Pac-12 as well, taking on an offense the opposite of the Wing-T helped Luton prepare for the NFL. Now he plans on continuing the education from the man that figured out both seemingly with ease; his new teammate and former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew II, another Jaguars sixth round pick.
“Playing in the PAC-12 with Gardner , I got to watch him and the success that he had was a lot of fun to watch. Seeing him come down to Jacksonville his rookie year and to step in ready to go was a lot of fun to watch. I’m just excited to get in the room with him and push each other to be the best we can be.
“I think that’s going to be really cool for me and him to be able to be in that room and have shared similar journeys and we can just push each other to be the best we can be. It doesn’t bother me at all, I’m excited to get to work with him and, like I said, push each other.”
It’s been a long road for Jake Luton, from coast to coast with stops in between and six years in college ball working towards the season he needed. Now he’s on the East coast and it’s the longterm dream he was waiting on.
“This means the world to me, it’s what I’ve always wanted to be since I was a little kid, you know, it’s just the day I’ve dreamed of, but, to me it’s just another step in the journey. I’m excited for what’s next and diving into the playbook and just helping the team however I can do so, but I’m really enjoying it right now. I don’t know if it’s fully sunk in yet, but I’m really excited.”