Featured Player: Luke Hutton

Luke Hutton (35) is the 144th captain of Harvard football (Gil Talbot).
Luke Hutton (35) is the 144th captain of Harvard football (Gil Talbot).

Harvard senior linebacker Luke Hutton knew he wanted to play college sports from an early age, but he never imagined his dream would lead him to Cambridge.

The Austin, Texas native grew up as a three-sport athlete, playing baseball and basketball, along with football.  Hutton's grandfather, Claude King, played football at the University of Houston and for the NFL's Houston Oilers.

Hutton also had a strong connection to baseball, his uncle Kelly Gruber.  Gruber was a World Series champion and two-time All-Star with the Toronto Blue Jays during a professional career that spanned a decade.

"There was a good amount of pressure to follow in his [Gruber's] footsteps," said Hutton.  "To be that baseball guy, but my true passion when I was younger was playing basketball." 

With basketball being Hutton's main passion through his early years, football seemingly took a backseat.  When it was time to play competitive football, it would be at a private middle school.

"There were only 30 kids in my grade, so the only type of football we could play was six-man," Hutton explained.  "There were strange rules and everyone was eligible to catch a pass." 

After this experience in middle school, and with the idea he wanted to further pursue football along with baseball and basketball, Hutton decided it would be best to go to a public school for high school and attend Lake Travis High School in Austin.

"They [Lake Travis] had just won their third-straight state [football] championship," said Hutton.  "My main goal was to play big college sports, so I thought it was my best shot."

Entering high school, Hutton still was not sure which of the three sports he played would end up being the one he'd continue with into college.  Even though football did not seem to get his full attention, there was still a baseline for his love of the game.

"I had an interest in football growing up going to University of Texas games," Hutton explained.  "Watching [head coach] Mack Brown do his thing, Vince Young winning the national championship and Colt McCoy.  That's where it started."

At Lake Travis, Hutton experienced the allure of "Friday Night Lights."

"It was as close to the television show or movie as I'd ever seen," said Hutton.  "The pressure on kids to perform was pretty unreal and you'd have people coming up to you that you've never met before telling you what you did wrong."

During his freshman year at Lake Travis, Hutton continued to play three sports but it was during his sophomore season that he decided to make a change.

"I decided to quit baseball because basketball and football became my loves," said Hutton.  "With baseball, I'd join the team half-way into the season and it was hard to catch-up with."

Also playing a role in his decision was the early success he had with football and basketball at Lake Travis.  He immediately became a starter on the varsity basketball team, while earning a starting nod with the varsity football team as a sophomore.

One thing you notice when talking to Hutton is his modesty.

"I'm pretty average in terms of speed, weight, strength, so I didn't really expect much from coaches," said Hutton about his football recruitment process.  "I didn't get much attention going into senior year."

Hutton would have a breakthrough on the recruiting trail after his senior season had ended, as Ivy League schools began to reach out to him.  Just a year prior, Columbia had brought someone out of Lake Travis High, Brock Kenyon, who ended up being an All-Ivy League safety.

"He started it for Lake Travis to go the Ivy League route," said Hutton.  "It drew attention from the Ivy League schools and we started getting some coaches coming through."

In fact, Harvard wanted Hutton to visit on a Friday during the basketball season, which was something that he was very reluctant to do.

"As a competitor, I didn't want to miss a game," said Hutton.  "My dad set me straight, thank goodness, and said that I needed to take them up on a visit."

Hutton ended up being the last person in the class of Harvard freshmen to receive an offer.

"I'm thankful they gave me a spot," explained Hutton.  "I was a small, weak linebacker, well really a safety at the time.  It was unreal, the name Harvard, I thought it was more of a myth than an actual school."

Hutton would sit on the bench during most of his freshman season as he transitioned from being a defensive back in high school to a linebacker at the college level. 

"It was a blessing in disguise," said Hutton.  "I wanted to play every single down of every single game, but it gave me time to adjust to the size and speed of the college game."

In Cambridge Hutton has molded himself into an All-Ivy League player, but he deflects all of the credit to others, especially to former Harvard All-Ivy League linebacker and current assistant head coach Scott Larkee '99.

"Any sort of success that I have is definitely a product of the coaching staff," explained Hutton. "Coach Larkee has been here and done it.  He's taught me just about everything I know at linebacker."

Coming into his senior season Hutton was bestowed with the honor of being the 144th captain in Harvard football history, a position he was elected to by his teammates.

"I don't know what they saw in me, I'm still trying to figure that one out," said Hutton.  "I don't have to do much, I'm surrounded by such great teammates and leaders.  I think my role as captain is to get out of the way and let them lead. 

Of course, there is plenty that Hutton does, which does not go unnoticed by his head coach, Tim Murphy.

"Luke has done a tremendous job as our captain," said Murphy.  "As a role model and leader for our team in general and certainly for our defense and linebacking corps."

Hutton, an economics concentrator, had an aspiration of working on Wall Street when he first came to Cambridge, but he credits the coaching staff at Harvard for changing his mind.

"Just being around this coaching staff and seeing the kind of impact they have on kids has really motivated me to become a college football coach," Hutton explained.  "The coaches here have really made an impact on what I want to do with my life."

"I want to change as many lives as possible, that's my ultimate goal."