Healthy again, Luton ramps up starting QB bid with Beavers
CORVALLIS — The world turned upside down for Jake Luton not long after he arrived at Oregon State for winter term.
Things are right-side up now, and the junior-college transfer is gearing up for the July 25 start of training camp for the Beavers and a run at the starting quarterback job.
All during OSU's "spring practice" — which actually was held in the winter from Feb. 17 to March 18 — Luton was afflicted by a mysterious malady that caused him to lose 30 pounds from his 6-7 frame.
Luton has gained the weight back and will enter camp weighing between 235 and 240.
"Everything is fine now," the junior from Marysville, Washington, says. "But it was a scary situation."
About two weeks before spring ball began, Luton began feeling ill.
"I missed two days of workouts," he says. "I thought I'd get better. It went away for five or six days and came back. The timing couldn't have been any worse.
"I'd go home and my girlfriend would have to take care of me. I'd be on the bathroom floor. My whole body would shake uncontrollably. It went on for four or five weeks. I don't know what it was."
Neither did doctors, even after a battery of tests.
"They think it was something to do with my esophagus," Luton says. "At first, I didn't think it was a big deal. I thought the doctor would take care of it. But it kept going on and on. They thought I might have had food allergies. For a long time, I was on a strict diet. I lost almost 30 pounds. By the end of spring ball I was about 205."
Even in his weakened state, Luton completed 13 of 21 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. Junior Marcus McMaryion was 9 for 14 for 126 yards and a TD; senior Darell Garretson hit on 8 of 11 passes for 66 yards and a score.
The week after spring practice ended, Luton began to get better. He reintroduced all the usual foods to his system, "and everything felt fine," he says. "Pretty soon, I was back to normal."
Luton, who transferred to OSU after throwing for 3,551 yards and 40 touchdown with 15 interceptions in 11 games for Ventura (California) College last season, is in a competition McMaryion and Garretson for the starting QB job. The trio has led teammates through informal summer workouts since spring term ended.
"It's going really good," says Luton, who is taking two summer-session classes. "We're working hard, trying to get ready for the season. I've been throwing a lot with the receivers, watching (video) and doing what I can to prepare."
Luton says he has developed a good comprehension of the OSU playbook.
"I'm a hands-on learner," he says. "Coming in early and going through spring ball was beneficial. They threw me out there, and I learned on the run. I made mistakes, but I learned it very quickly. Doing it that way — where I could go out and just do it, and then afterward come back and really hit the film hard — it's been good. I feel really comfortable with it."
Luton spent his first two years of college at Idaho, serving as a backup QB with the Vandals as a redshirt freshman in 2015. He transferred to Ventura last year for more playing time. He thinks he has found a home in Corvallis.
"I absolutely love it here," says Luton, who earned a 3.0 grade-point average for spring term and is majoring in sociology and education. "It's been a long journey for me. This is a perfect fit so far. It's how I thought I'd feel about the place coming in here."
In February, Luton told the Portland Tribune his personal goal next season is to be the Beavers' starter at quarterback.
"Still is," he says. "I think I'm on track. I've been working hard. I'm trying to get everybody to rally behind me. As a new guy coming in, step one is gaining the trust of your teammates. I think I've done a good job of working with the guys."
Luton's team goals are large.
"We know how good we are and what we can do," he says. "Everyone outside the program is saying 'six wins.' That's not my goal. My goal is bigger than that.
"We want to win the Pac-12. If we fall short, then we're at seven wins, eight wins, nine wins — wherever we're at. I don't want to shoot for six wins. I want to go to a bowl game. I want to win a bowl game. If we can strive for those things, six wins are going to happen, no problem."
To get to even six wins, the Beavers probably will have to win their opener at Colorado State on Aug. 26, the day the Rams christen their new stadium.
"We're going to come out juiced, but we're going to be disciplined, too," Luton says. "That's something Coach (Gary) Andersen has already talked to us about. We're going to be ready."