June 14, 2009

Five-star linebacker enjoyed trip to Athens

As a youngster, Jeff Luc didn't put on a helmet or strap on a pair of shoulder pads until he was 11 years old.

Even then, there was something very special about the burgeoning football prodigy.

Although was just a sixth-grader, Luc found himself bumped up into his local Pop Warner League, where he competed against kids much older than himself.

"Some of them were like four years older," Luc said in an exclusive interview with UGASports. "When I got to seventh grade, they put me back in my age group, but I really think playing against older kids helped me. I just saw it as getting me better. If I could do this against the older kids, imagine what I would do playing against kids my own age?"

Imagine indeed.

If there's a more sought-after high school linebacker in the entire country, one would have to look mighty hard to find one more in demand than the 6-foot-1, 240-pound wrecking ball from Treasure Coast High in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The list of offers for the five-star wrecking ball is truly an amazing one.

Name a school and Luc is undoubtedly tops on the list. From Miami to Nebraska, Ohio State to Notre Dame, Southern Cal to Southern Miss, Florida to Georgia, his will be one of the most coveted signatures when Signing Day rolls around come February.

Luc said Sunday he's "completely wide-open" when it comes to selecting his future college home, but said the overwhelming number of schools vying for his services hasn't been a distraction at all.

"There's only pressure if you want there to be pressure," Luc said. "If you handle it well, there's no pressure."

Luc has only now started to figure out what he wants to do.

Saturday, Luc and 13 other of his Treasure Coast teammates were in Athens to take part in last week's Mark Richt Football Camp, which ironically marked the first time the young star had ever ventured outside the state of Florida.

"The world is bigger than you think," Luc chuckled softly to himself. "But it's most definitely helping me out. If you don't have a feel for a school, how can you expect to go there for four years? It just opens my eyes. It opens my eyes to see there's more out there than just (the state) Florida."

His visit to see the Bulldogs opened his eyes in another way.

According to Treasure Coast assistant coach Allen Suber, Luc did not follow college football growing up so his knowledge of a lot of programs isn't quite on the par as many other recruits.

But Luc said that might be a good thing because it eliminates having any preconceived notions or ideas he might ordinarily have.

"To tell you the truth, I really didn't expect anything (on his trip to Georgia)," he said. "I'm not saying I didn't expect the school to be good or I was thinking down on the school or anything. I was just open. I just wanted to see what I was going to see. It was nice, real nice."

While there, Smith said he gained a quick appreciation for the way Richt and his staff handle their business.

"I like the way they communicate with the athletes," Luc said. "I only hung out with a few, but they were all right."

Bulldog linebacker Nick Williams and running back Carlton Thomas definitely made an impression.

"I like the way they vibe, they're both real cool dudes," Luc said. "They told me that they were a family and that they take care of each other. If you're in need, they've got you. I know anybody can tell you that, but when you actually see it, it clicks in your mind. That's real."

Luc didn't disappoint during camp on Saturday.

According to the 240-pound linebacker, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

"Jeff brings the hype, but that helps the rest of us get noticed, too," Treasure Coast safety Eric Alvarez said. "He's really a humble kid. I'm not saying he doesn't like the attention, but he wants us to find some success, too. We've gotten him better just like he's gotten us better."

Although Luc said he's nowhere near close to formulating a final list, he did indicate that he would like to graduate Treasure Coast early and enroll in his college of choice come January.

"I'm going to try to graduate early," said Luc, who indicated he would only have to continue school in summer to make that happen. "I'd love to graduate early but we'll see how it goes. It would be real nice."

Whichever school he does choose, Luc just wants one promise - a fair chance to win a starting job.

"I just want to know that I'll be able to compete with the older guys," he said. "Some schools, they won't let you compete with the older players or with guys who are in established positions. I just want to compete."

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