When linebacker Jeff Luc was still in high school, the parade of coaches that came to visit him in Port St. Lucie, Florida was a “Who’s Who” of head coaches and assistants from several of the top college programs in the country.
“Pete Carroll and Ken Norton (USC),” recalled Luc. “Jimbo Fisher and James Coley (Florida State). Bobby Williams from Alabama. Lane Kiffin from Tennessee. Coaches from the University of Miami. My parents had to change our home phone number because schools used to call like crazy.
“I still have the mail in my old room. If I had to estimate, I would probably say well over 1,000 pieces of mail and that’s no lie. I guess it will be something to show my kids someday. It was a lot of pressure, but there are pros and cons to everything. I enjoyed the experience and I think it was a blessing from God that I got to have that opportunity.”
Luc, a First Team USA Today All-American who was rated as the top middle linebacker recruit in the country by Rivals, eventually signed with Florida State. But after battling injuries and seeing limited playing time in two years with the Seminoles, Luc decided to transfer.
“When I first got my release, I didn’t really want to talk to any reporters because no matter what I said about the situation, somebody would have taken it the wrong way,” Luc told me. “I guess I didn’t fit their scheme or wasn’t what they were looking for, but it wasn’t anything personal. I can still call the coach and see how they’re doing. I was a good kid and that’s why they didn’t take it personally. It was strictly business.”
Fortunately for Cincinnati, another coach that had visited Jeff at Treasure Coast H.S. was John Jancek when he was the linebackers coach at Georgia. John is now the co-defensive coordinator under Butch Jones at UC.
“Coach Jancek has been recruiting me since high school and he’s a good guy,” said Luc. “I’d love to play for him. That was a huge part of it.”
The Jancek connection helped Cincinnati get a foot in the door, and Luc says that the program’s “family atmosphere” convinced him to transfer to UC.
“I saw what kind of guys Coach Jones and Coach Jancek were,” said Luc. “When they were recruiting me, they talked about how it’s a family – everybody talks about that but Cincinnati really showed it. It feels like home. Everybody has taken care of me and they’re helping me out with everything that I need. Basically, they’ve welcomed me into the family.”
“When he decided to transfer, the recruiting process started all over again and we were competing against high-profile institutions,” said head coach Butch Jones. “At the end of the day, what it proves is that we’re recruiting on a national stage and people want to come here. They want to be a part of our football family. They can feel the excitement, they can see the vision, and I really believe that we have a tremendous product to sell.”
Luc is 6’1”, 245 pounds and says he’s been timed at 4.6 in the 40 yard dash. Jeff has already enrolled at Cincinnati and is taking part in summer workouts. He’ll redshirt this season and then have two years of eligibility remaining.
“To tell you the truth, I wanted to redshirt,” said Luc. “I think it’s going to make me a lot better by helping me pick up the scheme. I think it’s going to make me a better person as well by being patient and knowing that everything happens for a reason.”
“He’ll have a full year without any pressure to come in and play right away and that will allow him to fully develop,” said Coach Jones. “We lose some linebackers after this year, so to have an individual who has experience, who has been in a big-time program, and who understands everything that goes into playing at a high-profile institution – I’m encouraged that we’re going to have him the following year.”
Luc will become one of the most highly-touted recruits to ever play for Cincinnati, but does he expect to be the starting middle linebacker in 2013?
“I’m not going to say that I see myself as the starting middle linebacker – that’s really up to the coaches,” said Luc. “I see myself as someone who is going to help this program and give them what they’re looking for in me.”
“We’re really excited about this young man,” said Coach Jones. “I think he has a hunger to prove himself and is very, very driven. Even though he can’t play this year, he’ll be on the scout teams and will work on his craft each and every day.”
“I want to help motivate the team and be some type of leader,” Luc told me. “I came out of high school with that ‘big time’ label, but I just want to win to tell you the truth. I want to help out as much as I can.”
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