By Stephen Tsai
When you're the son of a local athletic legend with the same name, the expectations can be daunting.
But Leroy Lutu Jr. managed to find his own path.
Both father and son were standout basketball players in high school. But it was Lutu Jr. who played the sport in college, as a Rainbow Warrior walk-on.
While the father had a successful football career at Washington, the son started his own gridiron career from scratch. He joined the Warriors with more enthusiasm than technique. But he developed from a popular scout player to the coming-of-rage moment when everybody, including himself, felt he deserved significant playing time. It was the equivalent of going from the mail room to an associate's title.
This past summer, he earned a football scholarship and, this season, he won a part-time starting role. He was at his best against Air Force, when he showed his grittiness as a rover by helping to contain the perimeter. But that game exposed a season-long secret: He had been suffering from a shoulder injury.
Lutu is undergoing shoulder surgery and will not be available for the season — and his collegiate — finale against South Alabama. He earns a bachelor's degree next month.
There are no guarantees in football, no guarantees in life. Just the way Leroy Lutu Jr. preferred.
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Defensive tackle Calen Friel undergoes surgery today to remove screws in his surgically repaired ankle. The procedure should allow Friel to be ready for spring training.
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Interesting that South Alabama's acronym is USA.