Sitting in a chair on an ordinary Saturday night, you scan the room, quickly observing the faces squarely fixed on the television screen. A couple of scrawny high school students are sprawled out on the couch, but then your eyes are instantly drawn to him. The 6’1″, 270 pound behemoth is whooping and hollering with the rest of them as his deft hands, glued to an Xbox controller, are efficiently downing any player’s offensive in, of all things, Halo 3.
Austin Lucas, a 2008 graduate from George Mason High School, is the Atlas-sized teenager reigning over this video game kingdom. Players confidently thumb the analog sticks, positive that they can sneak past the giant’s perch on top of the tower and maybe, just maybe, get a kill. Very rarely, though, does he let someone slip through his field of vision, as you’re downed with one quick shot. A friend recalls his first encounter with the Halo master, when he walked into a house and thought, “Hey, who’s the huge guy?” After about five minutes, he began thinking, “Hey, this huge guy is kicking my butt.”
Afterwards, however, the gentle giant is the first one to help you rebound from the loss, offering you a brownie or a soda in truce. A philosophical and docile man, his amiable spirit illuminates the room, while his soft-spoken nature garners the respect of teammates and foes alike. He is described by his buddies as “better than probably everyone in the room [at Halo],” but with an innate sense of “fairness and modesty that always makes sure that everyone has a good time.”
One would be hard-pressed to combine the sniper rifle-toting, energy sword-wielding gamer with the hauntingly massive football player who toed the football field at Moore Cadillac Stadium just one night prior. In fact, these talented individuals are one and the same.
The Virginia chapter of Lucas’ story began in 2005 when he moved to Falls Church from San Antonio in the summer before his sophomore year at Mason, bringing with him an incredibly efficient work ethic and unmatched competitive drive which, combined with his knack for humility, has made him a standout both on the gridiron and in the community.
“I just think that I’ve been humbled by all my experiences,” said Lucas, who has lived in four different countries and five states. “There’s just someone out there who’s always better, so I figure that I don’t really need to tell people that I can do things, I just go out there and do it.”
In the August leading up to his sophomore year, Lucas entered Coach Tom Horn’s football program at George Mason, and was voted to the Leadership Council for the Mustangs after only two weeks with his new brethren.
Last fall, Lucas was an anchor on the offensive line for the 7-3 Mustang football team, carving pathways for one of the most successful Mustang rushing seasons in recent memory. Just like it is next to impossible to sneak by him in a friendly game of Halo, Lucas’ size and surprising agility makes him a double-team all by himself to opposing linemen.
On the opposite end of the football, Lucas takes his stance at the nose tackle position, bullying his way past opposing centers for easy sacks on a defense which recorded three shutouts and allowed 20 or fewer points in eight out of their ten games. For his efforts, Lucas garnered first-team All-Bull Run, All-Region B, and All-State honors for group A.
In the spring, Lucas was a member of the boys’ track & field team, finishing with All-District honors in the shot put and discus, and posting career best distances in both events at the Region B meet.
For the standout Mustang, the accolades did not stop there. At the spring sports banquet in early June, Lucas was awarded the Jack Gambill Scholarship by the Mason Athletic Boosters, given to one of the best male athletes at George Mason.
Lucas’ extracurricular passion goes beyond the field, where he recently earned an Advanced Studies Diploma for George Mason and an Eagle Scout badge earlier this year – which he marks as his proudest accomplishment. Simply put, as the “About Me” section on Lucas’ Facebook states, “Yes, I’m a huge geek.”
In the midst of all garnered titles, Lucas remains humbled. With gaming and football being the “more superficial part” of Lucas’ friendships, his friends describe his presence as “light-hearted” and “fun,” recalling more notably, discussions about character and life integrity at a moment’s notice.
“I find that it’s so important to not take it too seriously. You know that you have to get stuff done, so you work hard, but it’s still important to take in the experience. I just want to be focused, not narrow-minded.”
Drawing away from the typical jock stereotype of football players, Lucas prefers to spend his weekends “owning noobs”-from what he simplified, means dominating in a video game and making the opposing players look foolish-and studying for upcoming exams.
By no means, though, does this detract from his skills on the gridiron. A quiet and focused leader, Lucas generally lets his standout play do all the talking. Former teammate Ryan Larcamp, a linebacker at Salisbury University, once said that Lucas was “the best offensive lineman I’ve ever seen at George Mason.”
In just a few days, Lucas will pack up all of his athleticism, his affability and his scholarly nature and ship them across the country, where he will attend the University of San Diego next year to play football. The Division I-AA Toreros compete in the Pioneer Football League, where they have won two of the last three league titles.
“It’s an overwhelming opportunity, being able to play college football,” Lucas softly quipped. “When I think about it, it’s just incredible. San Diego is such a great city and everyone there was so welcoming.”
Whether he is remembered for the way he threw blocks on “99-Super Power” or the way he set up four televisions in one room for a 12-person Halo Party, Lucas should continue “owning noobs” throughout his four-year tenure at the University of San Diego, racking up multi-kills on Coagulation and paving the way for 1,000-yard rushers.