Luke Wysong scored five TDs in his last game with the Storm, a 56-7 rout of Las Cruces on April 3, 2021, at University Stadium. (Gary Herron/Observer)
I’m ready. I’ve been ready ever since last year — Luke Wysong
Back when Luke Wysong went to Mountain View Middle School, he said he needed speech therapy to overcome stuttering.
Through several lessons, Wysong quickly learned that there really is no substitute for practice and repetition.
Wysong is getting plenty of practice with all the interviews he takes on as a sophomore play-making wide receiver and energetic leader for the University of New Mexico football team.
Last week, he was the youngest player at the Mountain West Conference media days in Las Vegas, Nev., where he went through several rounds of interviews with TV and newspaper reporters.
He said he only became nervous once, on Thursday morning, but he said that turned out to be his best interview of the day.
“Whenever I get nervous or anxious, or say, like, I want to get a story out really quick, I tend to stutter,” Wysong said. “I’ve always had that since I was little. My parents have helped me with it. I had to go to speech therapy sometimes about it, back in middle school. They taught me a lot about breathing techniques and stuff like that to make my words flow better. I’ve had a lot of practice with it. Definitely doing a lot of interviews last year and in high school has helped out a lot. I’m pretty much used to it now. I just have to stay on top of it, if not, it gets to be a lot of ‘ands’ sometimes.”
Wysong has applied the same type of strategy toward fulfilling his role for the Lobos.
This offseason, he bulked up, adding nearly 15 more pounds of muscle than he had when he was freshman who led UNM in all-purpose yards (717), receiving yards (224), catches (24), punt returns (7) and kick-return yardage (304).
He also competed in track and field for the Lobos to help increase his speed. That led to a very busy off season, one in which he dealt with thigh soreness and other maladies as he continued to make big plays during spring football practices.
He was smart to keep himself so occupied. It’s preparation for what’s to come in the 2022 season. The season kicks off Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. at University Stadium, where the Lobos face Maine.
Busy freshman in 2021
Last season, UNM head coach Danny Gonzales and offensive coordinator Derek Warehime were careful with the amount of touches Wysong received, since he is also valuable on special teams. Much to Wysong’s dislike, Gonzales held his young playmaker out for the regular-season finale to prevent any chance of a serious injury when the Lobos lost 35-10 to Utah State and finished as the nation’s worst team in total offense.
This season is expected to be a much different story for Wysong’s usage, resulting in an improved offense.
“We have an opportunity to use Luke at running back, at slot, and he’ll return punts,” said Gonzales, whose team begins preseason camp Aug. 5. “He can take the top off because of his speed. You’ll see Luke Wysong used everywhere. I think it creates dynamic match-up problems for defenses. You try to put a linebacker on Luke? Good luck.”
Gonzales believes Wysong is among the best players in the league, and the Lobos are determined to prove it.
The third-year head coach wants the ball in Wysong’s hands because when he makes a big play, he sees that it fires up the entire team. Other players will want to make big plays when they see Wysong, Gonzales said. He’s the ultimate hype man for the Lobos. He doesn’t need to say much, just make plays.
“Luke is a great playmaker,” UNM quarterback CJ Montes said in March. “He brings that X factor. You give him the ball on a bubble (screen) and he’s going to take it for 90 (yards). He plays a big role on this team.”
Wysong is excited about talk that he’ll be used more on offense, saying it’s what every skill player wants to hear.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I’ve been ready ever since last year. Ever since I came here, I feel like I was ready to have the ball in my hands and just do what I do. At the end of the day, that’s all everyone knows: You gotta do what you do. I’m excited. I’m just going to try to put our team in the best opportunity to win.”
Just leave him as Luke
Wysong has been so good, even since his days at Cleveland High, he deserves a nickname.
Instead of Luke Skywalker, call him Luke Playmaker? Instead of Cool Hand Luke, call him Big Play Luke?
Of course, whenever he makes a big play, fans tend to shout: “Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke!”
Brandon Blackmon, the Lobos’ wide receivers coach, created a nickname with a rhyme that deals with Wysong’s jersey number.
“He sometimes calls me: ‘One-Five, Get Live,’” Wysong said. “That’s like my only nickname. Other than that, it’s just Luke.”
All in the family
While Wysong is definitely excited for the upcoming season, there’s no denying his anticipation for 2023, when his younger brother, Evan,the starting QB at Cleveland High, will join the Lobos.
That should be expected: The Wysongs practically bleed Cherry & Silver.
Wysong’s father, Adam, played football with Gonzales at UNM, and his two uncles, Ben and Daniel, also played for the Lobos. The brothers’ mother, Beth, played volleyball at UNM.
Wysong is much about family. On his right forearm, he has a tattoo that reads “ABLE.” That’s for Adam, Beth, Luke, Evan.
“He’s my little brother and I’ve seen grow up right under me,” Wysong said of why he’s excited about his younger brother, who will most likely play as a receiver at UNM. “Seeing the great things that he did last year with Cleveland and his team … they went 13-0 and won state. Incredible season.
“He brings a lot of leadership to the table. He has a lot of skills on his own. I’m excited to play alongside him. My senior year, we played on the same team, but it wasn’t a full season. … I’m excited to play by him because I feel like we’re going to work well together.”