ABINGDON, Va. — Abingdon High School football star Martin Lucas had two goals in his college recruitment process.
He wanted a loyal approach and the opportunity to play running back.
Lucas said he achieved both goals by signing with William & Mary and head coach Mike London last week.
‘William & Mary was actually the first school that offered me a scholarship,” Lucas said. “That means a lot because it helped the other offers came in.”
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Lucas received a total of 20 major college offers before making a verbal commitment to attend Arizona State on July 17.
Then, on Nov. 20, Lucas opted to explore other options.
“As soon as I reopened the process, a lot of schools reached out to me,” said Lucas, rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals and 247Sports.
Once again, William & Mary was at the front of the line.
“They were upfront about everything,” Lucas said. “They told me what position they wanted me to play and what my playing time would look like. I appreciated that.
“And I know that after football, a degree from William & Mary will play a big role in getting a job.”
Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards had pegged Lucas as either a linebacker or running back.
“Other schools like Virginia Tech wanted to look at me as a linebacker or defensive end,” Lucas said. “I’d rather be a running back than play defense. I love running the ball, and the coaches at William & Mary said they like my size and speed.”
Lucas said there were other reasons why he decided to switch his college destination, including the 1,900-mile distance from Abingdon to the sunbaked ASU campus in Tempe.
“The coaches at Arizona State told me in November that I couldn’t sign in December because they wanted to see me play after my foot injury last season. I didn’t feel comfortable with that,” Lucas said.
Lucas was limited to six games as a junior because of a torn ligament in his foot. He still rushed for 887 yards and 14 touchdowns, nearly breaking the single-season and career rushing records at Abingdon.
As a freshman, Lucas was sidelined by a broken thumb.
“Those two injuries give me extra motivation for my senior season,” Lucas said. “I’m ready to get back on the field and help my team.”
After the Virginia High School League postponed the 2020 fall football season until the winter and spring due to COVID-19, Lucas fed his need for football by attending every home game at Tennessee High.
“It was really frustrating seeing the area teams in Tennessee play,” Lucas said. “I missed the game so much.”
Since schools in Washington County have gone to a virtual learning method until at least Jan. 15, Lucas is unable to meet with his coaches or use the school weight room.
“I’ve been out working like crazy at a local fitness center,” Lucas said. “We’re all looking forward to having Zoom meetings with our coaches at Abingdon soon and going over the playbook.”
But Lucas admits to being concerned about the rise in COVID-19 cases around Washington County and the rest of Virginia.
“It does worry me the way things are looking,” Lucas said. “And it’s kind of scary that the start of basketball season has been pushed back because our football season is scheduled to start in February. I’m praying that we get to play.”
Due to travel restrictions and other health measures, Lucas and other college recruits have been forced to make many adjustments.
Zoom conferences and virtual campus tours have become the norm.
“It was tough because I had to make my decision without actually visiting any of the schools or meeting any of the coaches,” Lucas said.
The chemistry with London came natural, according to Lucas. London coached the University of Richmond to the 2008 FCS national title and earned Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year honors at the University of Virginia in 2011.
“I love Coach London,” Lucas said. “He’s a really good coach, a motivator and a mentor. The positive conversations I had with Coach London and his staff are a big reason I chose William & Mary.”
Contacted last Wednesday night, Lucas expressed relief that his long and unique recruiting ordeal is finally over.
“Oh, yeah, it’s good to not have to worry about where I’m going to be for the next four years. I have a home now, and it’s closer to my hometown.”
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