PULLMAN — When the 2020 football season ended, Abraham Lucas told reporters over a postgame Zoom call in Salt Lake City he’d take a private approach to the looming decision that would soon hang over his offseason, leaving few hints as to whether the Washington State right tackle would leave school for the NFL or return to the Cougars for his fourth season.
On Monday, the deadline for underclassmen to submit their names to the NFL draft came and went without a formal announcement from Lucas, who doesn’t use Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social media platforms used by college football players to reveal such decisions.
One day later, however, The Spokesman-Review confirmed WSU’s big offensive tackle has elected to return to Pullman for a second redshirt junior season, bolstering an offensive line that should have an opportunity to be one of the best in the Pac-12 Conference.
Before the shortened 2020 season began, Lucas was considered the third-best draft-eligible offensive tackle in the country, according to The Athletic. Pro Football Focus recently tabbed him as the No. 84 overall prospect in the 2021 draft, which projects to a fifth- to seventh-round draft pick.
With another full season anchoring the right side of WSU’s offensive line, Lucas will give himself a chance to climb up draft boards much the same way fellow tackle Andre Dillard did before becoming the first Cougar offensive lineman selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
In 2020, first-year WSU coach Nick Rolovich considered the offensive line one of the team’s top strengths. At the time, the Cougars were ushering two first-year starters in center Brian Greene and left guard Jarrett Kingston. The O-line loses longtime starting right guard and Cascade High School alum Josh Watson, who elected to retire from football to become a firefighter, but Lucas’ decision means the group returns four of five starters.
An Everett native and Archbishop Murphy graduate, Lucas was named to the postseason All-Pac-12 second team, as selected by the league’s coaches.
A former Freshman All-American, Lucas has started in 30 consecutive games for the Cougars dating back to his redshirt freshman season and was rated the second pass-blocking offensive tackle in 2019 by Pro Football Focus.
Lucas’ decision comes more than a week after star running back Max Borghi announced plans to return to the Cougars in 2021. With Lucas and Borghi back in the fold, WSU’s offense is projected to return all but one starter this fall, including quarterback Jayden de Laura, running back Deon McIntosh and all four receivers: Jamire Calvin, Renard Bell, Travell Harris and Lucas Bacon/Calvin Jackson Jr.
Of the team’s seniors in 2020, the only ones who’ve announced plans to leave school and not use an extra year of eligibility have been Watson and punter Oscar Draguicevich III, who declared for the NFL draft within one week of the season finale at Utah.