CORVALLIS — Spring football can be a big boost for a player new to a program.
As a quarterback, Jake Luton was looking forward to a fast start with Oregon State.
Luton did get a jump on learning the playbook, but the spring was a tough time for Luton physically.
A mystery illness waylaid Luton throughout spring ball, causing weakness and weight loss.
"It was probably a week or two before spring ball, I missed a workout," Luton said. "I thought I had a stomach bug, a stomach virus, something like that. I had it for a couple days and it went away for a few days and I felt fine, then maybe five days before spring ball it got way worse."
Doctors were perplexed and tested for food allergies and a variety of diseases, but all came back negative.
It took a while, but the symptoms subsided.
"We tried to do different things to treat it, couldn't really pinpoint what it was. Finally got fixed," Luton said.
"More than anything, it was frustrating. More than the pain or any part of it. To start spring ball and have that ailment and not really know what was wrong with me was frustrating but I powered through it in practice and I still tried to give everything I had."
Luton was able to get his strength back during the summer and is also back to his normal weight of 234 pounds, up from about 205 during the illness.
"I'm feeling great," Luton said. "I came back from spring and have just been working hard to get back to 100 percent and I feel great and I think the team does, too."
That's good news for a player deep in a battle for the starting quarterback spot with Marcus McMaryion and Darell Garretson.
Luton is a tall signal-caller at 6-foot-7 and has high level arm talent. He's able to deliver deep balls on a rope to receivers.
He passed for 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns at Ventura College last year and is the single-season and career record holder in both categories.
Luton said coming out and competing on a consistent basis is the key to winning a starting job.
"The guys like to see someone that is a competitor in all aspects of it," said Luton, who originally signed with Idaho out of Washington's Marysville-Pilchuck High. "I don't think there's a lot of technical things that I have left to prove, it's just coming out and being a competitor and trying to take charge."
Luton said he's been able to get the playbook down 100 percent and has been working to get in sync with his receivers.
"This summer's been a big time to really get the chemistry with the receivers and we've been throwing a lot and watching film a lot together," he said.
Winning the starting spot over McMaryion and Garretson would be a big moment for Luton.
"It's going to mean the world to me. I've put in the work since I was six years old. I started playing flag football up until now. I think back and really, everything that I've ever done in my life leads up to now," Luton said. "Playing Pac-12 football is where I wanted to be so if that day comes that I'll be the starter, then yes, it will mean the world to me."