In a time when the sports world is shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Park City junior Coco Lukrich is rising up recruiting boards
If anybody in Park City knows what a future Division I football player looks like and what it takes to compete at that level, it would be Josh Montzingo.
As head coach of the Park City High School football team, Montzingo has coached his fair share of future college football players. This past season alone, he helped send wide receiver Mark McCurdy and linebacker Chase Johansen to college on NCAA Division I football scholarships — McCurdy is heading to Davidson College while Johansen is going north to a FCS powerhouse in the University of Montana.
According to him, Montzingo is now coaching a whole different “beast” when it comes to junior two-way lineman Coco Lukrich, a three-star prospect by national recruiting site 247sports who could rise more in the rankings.
“Honestly, the best way to describe Coco is just as a ‘beast’ or an ‘animal.’ … He’s a guy whos is going to dominate every single time he’s out on the field,” Montzingo said of Lukrich. “His sheer athleticism for his size, his explosiveness and how powerful he is, it’s why he’s wanted. He loves to finish the block on every play and drive his opponents into the ground, and that’s what you want at the collegiate level.”
With offers to play for ACC contender Syracuse and 20 other Division I schools on the table, Lukrich has the potential to be the first Park City football player since Montzingo arrived seven years ago to go from being a Miner to playing in the Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten or Big 12 conferences.
“It’s always been my goal to play at that level,” Lukrich said. “So getting that offer from Syracuse,thinking how they play against the top teams in the nation and are one of the better ones, it’s reassurance of what I can do. … It’s always been my goal to play in the Pac-12 and I’m definitely getting closer to that.”
What makes the attention Lukrich has garnered is that this is coming at a time when nearly the entire sports world is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Typically, the critical April-June evaluation period is the busiest part of the recruiting calendar as college programs contact high school coaches and scout promising upperclassmen at spring games and camps.
It’s also a massively critical time when college coaches throughout the country are on the phones with high school coaches and the players, seriously scouting the rising juniors and determining whether or not they believe the athlete has the ability to thrive at the next level.
They do this scouting by getting players on their respective campuses for the Spring Game or watching them workout at some of the premier camps throughout the nation, before deciding to offer a scholarship or not.
For Lukrich, though, he’s never really enjoyed attending some of the top camps in the Mountain West and wasn’t planning on going to the ones he was invited to this year. In return, this would’ve made it more difficult for him to get noticed by college recruiters and he might have slipped through the cracks.
“I was invited to some camps but in all honesty, I’m not really into them because I prefer to let my film and play on the field do the talking for me,” Lukrich said. “Those camps are all about hype and that’s not really me. … I’m about getting better more than anything and I do that on the field and in the gym.”
According to Montzingo, the COVID-19 pandemic may have actually been a blessing in disguise for Lukrich.
“Instead of attending camps and hosting recruits, D-I coaches have nothing to do but watch film right now, and that’s where Coco shines and why you would want him,” Montzingo said. “Some consider Coco to be undersized and want to see him in person, but the coaches who want based solely on his dominating on the field are my favorite kind. They don’t care about the other measurables, they just want him because he’s that good.”
Lukrich reminds Montzingo of two of his previous players: Harland Gunn and Eli Alford.
Gunn, from Montzingo’s time as an assistant coach Omaha Central High School, went on to become a starting offensive guard for the University of Miami before playing with five NFL teams throughout his career from 2012-15. Alford, who Montzingo coached for one year, is now at Montana, where he’s expected to be a starting defensive tackle this upcoming season.
“They all have that same fast first step and unbelievable explosiveness at the point of attack, especially for guys of their size,” Montzingo said. “They probably don’t have the measurables that are wanted now-a-days with arm length and hand size and all that, but they’re guys who can play on Sundays and deserve their shots at everything they get.”
While Lukrich is pulling in scholarship offers on a weekly basis at this point, having received 22 since the second week of March, he’s starting to hear from some of the top schools on the West Coast and in the Pac-12. That puts him one step closer to playing for his dream school down in Southern California.
“Right now my top three schools are probably Arizona State, Washington and UCLA, all of whom I’ve been talking with a lot but haven’t received an offer yet,” Lukrich said. “But my dream school would be UCLA just because my grandpa went there and I grew up going to games down there. I won’t commit anywhere until I take my official visits, but UCLA really would be a dream come true.”
Regardless of whether the pandemic ends anytime soon and football returns in the fall, Lukrich will have his choice of colleges and where to continue his education, something he never really believed possible until two months ago.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.