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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Lutu leaves court for field

This Decision is getting plenty of support.
Leroy Lutu Jr., a walk-on junior guard with the Hawaii men's basketball team, has decided to take his talents across the UH athletics complex to play for the Warriors football team as a safety.
Secondary coach Rich Miano said yesterday that Lutu Jr., the son of former University High and Washington Huskies standout Leroy Lutu, will redshirt this season once he arrives on campus for the start of the fall semester later this month.
Lutu Jr. weighed his options over the summer and conferred with new basketball coach Gib Arnold on the phone before making his choice this week.
"My family and I thought football was the right choice for my future," Lutu Jr. said. "I enjoyed playing basketball at UH, but I'm excited for what may lie ahead in football."
Big things could eventually be expected of the 6-foot-3, 200-pound former prep star at Mercer Island (Wash.) High. After redshirting, he'll have two years to play two seasons.
"We're extremely excited about his athleticism, his bloodline, his potential," Miano said. "We're very excited that Coach Arnold allowed that to happen. You look at his vertical jump, close to 40 inches, and you look at his size ... he's a prototype NFL type of safety. We have a hard time finding guys that big, strong, fast."
Miano added it's to be determined whether Lutu will play free or strong safety, or even linebacker if he got bigger.
Safeties Spencer Smith and Mana Silva are seniors, leaving a hole that Lutu could potentially fill.
"If he can learn the system in a year, he'll have a chance to compete for a job, and a scholarship, by next year," Miano said.
Lutu Jr. was a two-sport player at Mercer Island, and, as a defensive back, he got more Division I recruiting looks than in basketball. But he chose to play hoops, his first love, as a walk-on for his first two years at UH under Bob Nash.
As a sophomore, he averaged 1.9 points in 7.7 minutes per game. However, he closed the season strong with career-high efforts of 12 points in each of the last two games.
Arnold, a first-year coach, said Lutu had a spot on the new-look basketball team without a tryout, if he wanted it.
"He thought his best chance to be successful at the collegiate level would be in football," Arnold said. "And I support him in that. I would have loved to have him with us, but in the same breath, if he can help the football team, that's great. Same school, same colors. I hope he can go on and have a great career. ... I'll be one of his biggest fans."

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