Abraham Lucas has no regrets.
The Washington State University right tackle and All-American candidate, who’s a product of Archbishop Murphy High School, has had a front-car seat on the roller coaster ride that’s been college football during the coronavirus pandemic.
But with the Pac-12 reversing course and reinstating fall football, Lucas isn’t spending his time pondering whether he should have avoided all the ups and downs by making himself available for the 2020 NFL draft, or whether he should have opted out of this season to prepare for the 2021 draft. Instead, he’s putting all his efforts into readying himself for what’s now set to be an abbreviated 2020 Pac-12 football campaign.
Lucas, a 6-foot-7, 324-pound redshirt junior who was on the Outland Trophy watch list last year and named second-team All-Pac-12, could have declared for this year’s NFL draft. As a two-year starter who’s considered one of the best pass-blocking tackles in the nation, Lucas could have been a mid-round selection last April. Instead, he chose to return to WSU. That could have been a fateful decision, especially with the Pac-12 announcing Aug. 11 it was cancelling fall football as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.
The league reversed that decision on Sept. 24, announcing it intended to play a seven-game season beginning Nov. 6.
“I think I was getting out of an offensive-line meeting,” Lucas said about when he heard the news. “We had heard for so long that it was a possibility that when they said, ‘Yes,’ it was like, ‘It’s about time, we have answers to the situation.’”
But regardless of the status of the season, Lucas isn’t questioning his choice to come back to college.
“I’m comfortable with the decision that I made,” Lucas said. “Regardless of what happens, I make the decisions and I live with the decisions. There are no regrets on my end, I’m happy with where I’m at.”
A handful of prominent Pac-12 players decided to opt out of the 2020-21 college season after the league’s Aug. 11 announcement. That group included two other prominent tackles, Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Stanford’s Walker Little. Sewell and Little, who are projected as first-round NFL draft picks, chose to prioritize draft preparations over playing another year in college, even if it meant foregoing a potential spring football season.
Lucas said he didn’t consider following in their footsteps and sitting out the 2020-21 school year.
“I was just looking forward to the time we were going to play, the next time our season was going to happen,” Lucas said. “I still haven’t really accomplished what I want to here — I’ve accomplished some, but not all — and I want to do that before I look into the future.”
With football back on the docket, Lucas gets his chance to achieve those goals. He said earning All-American status was among them.
It also gives Lucas the chance to play under the Cougars’ new coaching staff. Nick Rolovich was hired away from Hawaii to replace Mike Leach, who departed after eight seasons to take the head-coaching position at Mississippi State.
Under Leach’s air-raid offense, Washington State was as pass-heavy a team as there was in FBS. That suited Lucas, whose athleticism and quick feet make him difficult for opposing pass rushers to get around. Rolovich employs a run-and-shoot offense which, while still being up tempo, seeks to find more of a balance between the run and pass games. Therefore, Lucas is looking forward to having more opportunities to block while moving forward (run blocking) as opposed to almost exclusively blocking while moving backward (pass blocking).
“I’m excited to showcase what I’ve learned run blocking,” Lucas said. “The coaches have helped me improve greatly on it. To be a complete offensive lineman I think you have to be able to do both. Being pass heavy was great, I was able to improve my pass blocking skills in the three years I played for coach Leach. But I’m excited to improve my run game under coach Rolovich and see what that future holds.”
Does that future include declaring for the 2021 NFL draft? Lucas wasn’t revealing those cards. But he did reveal what his expectations are for the truncated 2021 season.
“I expect us to play hard and play with tremendous effort every single play,” Lucas said. “Me being one of the older guys now, I expect to be a leader — looking back at my time here, I see the freshmen coming in and I see them being young and stupid the way I was as a freshman. I expect to hold up the WSU culture of being a bunch of blue-collar guys going out there to try and win as much as we can. It’s difficult having a whole new coaching staff, I’ve never gone through that before, and this is the third offensive-line coach I’ve had in four years. But it should be an interesting season, and I’m expecting the best out of it.”