For SouthLake Christian long snapper Chris Lutzel and his family, a December night that began with a broken television set ended with them learning where he would spend his next four years.
The family, which had recently moved into their Huntersville home, became infuriated when they unwrapped a faulty plasma television. A few moments later, Lutzel received an email informing him that he was offered the opportunity to play football at Baylor.
“It definitely changed the mood of the night,” Lutzel said with a chuckle.
For Lutzel, 18, the moment was the culmination of six years of tedious dedication and discipline.
Every summer, Lutzel and his family trekked to Idaho so he could train with Chris Rubio, one of the best specialist coaches in the nation. Lutzel also ventured to numerous college camps – Alabama and Oregon to name a couple – to gain more exposure and make connections.
Last summer, there were only two days in June where he slept in his own bed.
The result of his work was evident when Lutzel was clocked with an average 0.72-second snap time at a 2014 Kohl’s kicker, punter and long-snapper camp. Lutzel (5-foot-11, 220 pounds) is currently ranked by Kohl’s as the No. 15 long-snapper nationally for the class of 2015.
“It’s been exciting and I’m so proud of him,” said Rick Lutzel, Chris’ father and an assistant coach at SouthLake. “I know he’s given up a lot to get to where he is.”
Chris played center for SouthLake and for the past two years, and he was the staple amidst an ever-alternating offensive line. On top of teaching blocking assignments to a new group of linemen almost every week, Lutzel had to practice long snapping whenever he could.
Each week, he would invest about 10 to 12 hours to long snapping. Not once did his father, the recipient of those snaps, ever force his son to do so.
“I don’t think anybody can get to a point of high-level success when they’re forced to do it,” said Rick. “That’s a set up for failure. There were many times when we got done with a two-hour practice and he got out the locker room with a football in his hand and asked if I could catch his snaps. In reality, he was the one forcing me to do it instead of me making him.”
Fresh off of winning two consecutive N.C. Independent School Athletic Association state titles, Lutzel had offers from Georgia Tech, Army, Wofford and several other schools across the Southeast.
Out of respect for his mother, Chris applied to Baylor solely for academics, in case his football plans failed.
After being accepted into the university with a $64,000 academic scholarship, Lutzel emailed the football coaches to see if he could play for them. Once he visited the campus in Waco, Texas, and met with personnel, he became entranced.
“When I took my official visit, we toured the engineering facilities,” said Lutzel. “On top of the of door was (Bible verse) Matthew 19:26, which is actually my favorite verse. Once I saw that I was like ‘All right, God, this is where you want me. I’m going to be a Bear.’”
Lutzel plans to redshirt next year in order to gain more muscle and to transition from high school to college both on and off the field.
After next season, he hopes to play, as two seniors ahead of him now will graduate.
“If an NFL opportunity presents itself, I certainly won’t be opposed it,” Lutzel said. “But the reason I chose Baylor was because of its great engineering program and its after-college programs. No matter what direction the Lord leads me, I’ll be OK.”
Emmanuel Morgan is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Emmanuel? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.