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Harriman High School has had its share of great running backs over the years, and now one of the best to ever play for the Blue Devils is heading to the next level as Lucas Lunsford signed his National Letter of Intent last week to play for the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
“I’m pretty excited,” Lunsford said after making it official. “I’ve always had the dream of playing at the next level and now I’m getting that chance.
“I really like the school and the campus. The people were real nice and the student-to-teacher ratio is about fifteen-to-one so I should have a lot of one-on-one time with my teachers. They also have a really good football program.”
“I’m really happy for Lucas,” Harriman head coach Travis Tapp added. “You want find a finer young man and he’s worked hard for this.”
Lunsford’s dreams of play at the next level almost came to an end prematurely as an injury limited his productivity in 2012.
“He had a high ankle sprain that hindered him this past year so for him to still have this opportunity means a lot,” Tapp said.
When healthy, Lunsford is electrifying. With a 40-time clocked at 4.62 seconds, the senior running back has the potential to find the end zone any time he touches the ball. But it’s not just his speed that makes him dangerous.
“He sees the field so well and any time you have a kid that can run like that and has good vision, he’s dangerous,” Tapp said. “He can also catch the ball and that’s something that’s going to help him in college.”
“We’ve watched a lot of film on him and we know he can play,” Patriots head coach John Bland added. “The transition from high school to college isn’t an easy one, but you can tell he’s a tough kid and will make the transition.”
That toughness might be Lunsford’s biggest attribute. At 5’11” 175 pounds, He doesn’t seem like a back that can take a lot of punishment, but he has shown the ability to carry the ball upwards of 30 times in a game. Lunsford said the key to handling hits at his size is to not think about it.
“I just play. I don’t think much about how many times I carry the ball. I just want to keep going and play the next play,” he said.
While Lunsford is projected to play running back in college, he also played in the defensive backfield at Harriman and isn’t opposed to playing on that side of the ball.
“I don’t know where I’ll end up,” he said. “I like running back, but I’ll play wherever they need me.”
“We’re going to start him at running back, but it’s always good to have a kid that can do both,” Bland added. “It will really be about getting him on the field. If there’s a need, and it will help the team, he could move to defense.”
No matter which side of the ball he plays on, Lunsford is aware that he has his work cut out for him if he is to make an impact this fall.
“I’ve got to get better all the way around,” he said. “I’ve got to get bigger and stronger. I’ll need to be in the weight room and staying in shape.”
“The biggest hurdle for all freshmen is being in shape,” Bland added. “We give all of our players and offseason workout and 90 percent of our returners will do a good job with it, but 90 percent of the new guys won’t be ready. It’s a lot tougher for a freshman when they’re on their own in the summer, but the best thing for him is to be in the best shape possible.”
Tapp, however, has no doubt that Lunsford will be ready come Aug. 12 when freshmen report in Williamsburg.
“He’s a great kid and a hard worker,” Tapp said. “Everybody is bigger and stronger at the college level so this summer is going to be extremely important for Lucas. But Lucas will get it done.”