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BY KERRY EGGERS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Ex-OSU star has recovered enough to play in at least one all-star game

PMG FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Jake Luton, who helped guide Oregon State to five wins in 2019, hopes to hire an agent in the next few days, then pick a trainer and workout site to help him prepare for the NFL draft. Jake Luton's senior season at Oregon State was a rousing success, and his postseason hasn't been bad, either.

Already named to participate in a pair of all-star games — the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 18 and the Hula Bowl in Honolulu on Jan. 26 — Luton was last week honored as the FBS recipient of the Mayo Clinic National Comeback Player of the Year Award.

The 6-7, 225-pound Luton will join FCS winner Drew Wilson of Georgia Southern and Division III recipient Octavion Wilson for an award presentation at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday in Phoenix.

"I feel really honored," Luton said via phone from Marysville, Washington, where he is visiting his family for Christmas. "A lot of cool things have happened ths year, but this one is really special to me.

"It's been a long road for me at Oregon State — a lot of ups and downs. Having to persevere through some things, to be recognized like this feels pretty good."

After arriving as a transfer from Ventura (California) JC, Luton's junior season in 2017 was cut short in the fourth game at Washington State, when he suffered a thoracic spine fracture in the second half against the Cougars.

He recovered to become the Beavers' starter the following season and, on the third play from scrimmage in the opener against Ohio State, sustained a concussion. He was cleared for duty the following week and played as a reserve against Southern Utah. The next week, he suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out of action for the next four games.

Given a sixth season of eligibility via medical hardship, Luton made the most of it this season, guiding the Beavers to five wins in his 11 starts. Luton completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,714 yards, 28 touchdowns — third-best in school history — and just three interceptions.

The low point was the Civil War game. Luton suffered a forearm injury late in Oregon State's 54-53 loss the week before. Luton warmed up but was unable to go in the Beavers' 24-10 setback to Oregon at Autzen Stadium.

"It was definitely the most disappointing thing that happened all year," Luton said. "From a team standpoint, it was just so disappointing to not be out there with the guys. From a personal standpoint, it sucked. I did everything I could to get ready. The trainers did everything they could to get me ready. There just wasn't enough time to get it right."

There was no structural damage to Luton's arm.

"It was a contusion of some sort and a muscle strain," he said. "It hit some nerves and tendons, and it swelled up. It made the arm pretty much unusable."

Nearly a month later, the arm is still not back to full health. He just recently began to throw the football around lightly.

"I've been trying to rest it up," he said. "We were pretty aggressive with it Civil War week, trying to get it back healthy, but we just weren't able to in time. So it's been about healing up since then. It's starting to feel a lot better."

Luton, 23, should be back in time to participate in the NLFPA game, to which he is committed.

"I'm excited to get to play in front of a bunch of scouts and prove what I can do," he said.

Luton also has been named to play in the Hula Bowl, though he isn't sure if he'll accept the invitation. He wants to discuss with an agent whether he should play in both games. Luton expects to sign with one in the next few days.

"But going to Hawaii for a few days wouldn't be the worst thing, that's for sure," he said with a laugh.

LUton is also looking to hire a trainer and land a facility in which to prepare for Pro Day in Corvallis in March and the NFL draft in April.

"I've looked a possibilities in Southern California, Colorado and Phoenix," he said.

Luton and his girlfriend, Paige Holland, moved out of their Corvallis apartment last Tuesday, flew to Los Angeles on Wednesday to spend a few days there, then moved all their possessions for storage in Marysville.

"Now it's about figuring out where to go next," Luton said.

Luton said he will look back with fondness on what turned out to be a successful senior season.

"Most people would think there is no reason to celebrate — five wins and no bowl game, not exactly where we wanted to be," he said. "But it was a step in the right direction for the program.

"We beat a few teams and hung in there with teams that have really taken it to us in past years. We were seven points away from three more wins. We were right there with some good teams and beat some others. It was a pretty dramatic turnaround. There's a lot to be proud of for Beaver Nation, and something to be excited about for next year."

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