APU football player looked at by NFL

Within five years, senior physical education major Luke Marquardt went from being a 6’9” , 220-pound basketball player to a 320-pound starting offensive left tackle with potential to become a player in the National Football League (NFL).

Marquardt, famously known as “Big Luke,” has been scouted by over 30 NFL teams. Oddly enough, his football career only started during his freshman year of college.

Growing up, Marquardt had been a quarterback for his little league football teams. When reaching his freshman year of high school, Marquardt quit the team when being told he would have to switch positions from quarterback to offensive line. He then spent the rest of his high school career as a basketball player.

Marquardt originally intended to walk onto the APU men’s basketball team, but his mother was the one that first pushed him into meeting with APU head football coach Victor Santa Cruz. That same day, Santa Cruz scouted Marquardt in the APU basketball open gym, and from there his football career really began.

In 2008, Marquardt redshirted his freshman year and trained to become an offensive tight-end.

“I was trying to understand the game of football again,” Marquardt said.

At the beginning of sophomore year, Marquardt was the starting tight end of the team. After a rocky first half of the season, Marquardt contacted APU offensive coordinator Rudy Carlton and offered to change positions to help the team in any way. Two weeks later, Marquardt found himself starting in the Texas game as left tackle — the blind side.

According to Marquardt, sophomore season was the year in which he decided to really pursue his future football career. Marquardt continued to be the Cougars’ left tackle until the start of his senior year, when a week before the first game he experienced a hairline fracture in his right foot.

Marquardt’s first scout came to him in the 2012 spring season, and from there his information was sent to the NFL teams.

Before starting football camp at APU, Marquardt spent six weeks at Athlete’s Performance in Phoenix, Ariz. Athlete’s Performance is a facility where athletes can train before the NFL draft. There, Marquardt had personal instruction on how to specifically train in the offseason to accomplish his goals during season. He spent the summer living with teammate and defense tackle Luke Siwek.

Although injured, the scouts did not hesitate to take interest in Marquardt. The first day of the Cougars’ minicamp, Marquardt had his first scout from the Carolina Panthers.

“I was super excited and ecstatic that all my hard work paid off,” Marquardt said. “It was really encouraging. God has a plan, and I trust him with it. I really feel that he is blessing me, and I only have any of this because of him.”

Marquardt has recently signed a contract with the Rep1 Sports, where starting next semester he will move to an all-paid apartment with other prospective athletes.

He will continue to train with previous all-star and NFL coaches for the combine that will take place Feb. 26.

Marquardt is looking to be completely healed by mid-December, but continues to work out every day as much as he can.

Although physically moving away from Azusa, Marquardt will still be graduating from APU in the spring with a degree in physical education.

“It is surreal  to think that in just a few months we could be watching  Luke play on national television. He has been such a straight-edge guy and has worked hard for this,” junior journalism major and sister Olivia Marquardt  said. “Luke has cast a big shadow over me here at APU, but I am so proud of him. Going to school together has definitely made things more interesting especially in my dating life. I thought I’d be ready for when he graduates, but as time gets closer I’m not sure if Im ready for him to leave.  We’ve been each other’s support systems here and I’m going to miss that.”

Marquardt has been greatly influenced by the team and coaching staff at APU.

“The coaches have truly represented what a man of God looks like and have mentored me into the man I am today and want to become,” Marquardt said.

Marquardt has been invited to participate in upcoming all-star games, and is currently on the watch list for the Senior Bowl — official invites will be announced this December.

“He has fantastic talent,” offensive line coach and former NFL athlete Jackie Slater said. “He is unusually and supremely gifted. It is amazing how rare he is, and how people at the next level recognize it. He has taken everything with an immeasurable amount of humility.”