Salem offensive lineman Andy Lutes has accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Virginia over a similar offer from William and Mary.
The senior announced his commitment to UVa on Twitter on Wednesday, which was the beginning of NCAA Division I football’s second winter signing period.
The decision for Lutes came after getting offered by UVa last Thursday.
“I went to William and Mary last weekend and I told the UVa coaches that I might commit to William and Mary,” Lutes said Wednesday in a phone interview. “Well, I got the offer [from UVa] the day before I left [to go on the visit to W&M].”
Lutes said the official visit to 2022 FCS playoff participant William and Mary last weekend was great, making his decision tougher.
“I was absolutely torn between the two,” Lutes said. “When I went on my official visit to William and Mary, I felt very respected as a preferred walk-on. Even my mom, who’s a UVa grad [wasn’t sure what school I should pick], but I figured I couldn’t go to William and Mary and decline my dream school.”
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Lutes said he chose UVa (3-7, 1-6 ACC) because he believed in his ability to earn playing time.
“[UVa quarterback coach Taylor Lamb] told me that, ‘Everyone comes here and develops, and as long as you develop right, we will put the best players in those positions,’” Lutes said.
UVa’s football team and the Charlottesville area went through a tragedy last year with the fatal shootings of three football players.
“I absolutely feel safe. I’ve been a fan of UVa for a long time and I know what kind of school it is, and I know that was a rare incident,” Lutes said. “Me and my mom mourned, but it could have happened to any college, so I didn’t let it sway me.”
Lutes said he has a 4.2 GPA, which won him an award for the highest GPA on the Salem football team.
“My mom has always pushed academics with me, and I always worked hard at that,” Lutes said.
Salem coach Don Holter said Lutes’ work ethic had gotten him this far.
“The kid is humble and works hard. He’s been starting for us on the offensive line since he was a sophomore,” Holter said Wednesday in a phone interview. “He’s been a student of the game and he’s worked hard to get his footwork and pad level right.
“He got better and better through hard work and determination.”
Salem is one of the most run-heavy teams in Timesland, and Lutes had to use his strength to move defenders consistently.
“I think the physicality we play with is going to put him ahead,” Holter said.
“We are going to run the football and we are going to be physical.”