Gavin Lutman has thought about lobbying the Pittsburg State coaching staff for more looks downfield, primarily because the redshirt freshman believes his pass-catching skills have been overlooked through the first few weeks.

Gavin Lutman has thought about lobbying the Pittsburg State coaching staff for more looks downfield, primarily because the redshirt freshman believes his pass-catching skills have been overlooked through the first few weeks.

And he says it shouldn’t be perceived as some selfish plea for the limelight.

His argument is simply that he thinks he can make plays in the passing game that will aid the potentially explosive Pitt running game as well as help unholster the team’s pistol offense.

“There is definitely a need for one,” Lutman said of a go-to receiver. “I think, given the opportunity, I could be one of those players. That is all I’ve been. I want to be the big playmaker.”

As a senior at Raymore-Peculiar High School, he made plays of all shapes and sizes for the 2008 state semifinalist Class 5A football team, hauling in 63 receptions for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns.

After a hoped-for Division I football scholarship didn’t come through for the 6-foot-4 wideout, the three-year schoolboy starter thumbed through the mail from smaller schools, tweaking his list to MIAA competitors Missouri Western, University of Nebraska-Omaha and the Gorillas.

“When I came here on my visit, I felt real comfortable around the guys — how I felt on my high school team,” he said. “It made it an easy transfer.”

The transfer in his production hasn’t been nearly as easy. Though he played well enough through his initial pre-season that he very nearly made the team, the coaching staff thought a redshirt season would give him some valuable seasoning.

While Lutman understood the reasoning that it would give him time to better adjust to the college game, it didn’t mean he necessarily liked it or agreed.

“I didn’t want to because missing football is terrible,” he said. “If you love football you do not want to miss out on a season. But I had to take it for what it was, take my year of being on scout team and become the best player I could become within the year.”

That work, plus what he was able to showcase in the following spring and fall practices, enabled Lutman to slide into a starting role in the season opener for Pittsburg, where he and his teammates began adjusting to first-year offensive coordinator Steve Rampy’s schemes and the tandem quarterback situation of Zac Dickey and Jeff Smith.

“I knew I had a chance to start this year,” he said, “but I didn’t think it would come as soon as it did. That first play, there were a lot butterflies. After that, it was just football again.”

He had three catches for 28 yards in his debut and for the season he has 10 for 114 through seven games. Two weeks ago against Emporia State, he brought in his first touchdown, a 14-yarder from Dickey in the right corner of the end zone.

“Before the snap of the ball, I knew that if it came my way it was going to be a touchdown because of the coverage,” he said, “and because it was my time to make a play.”

 In Lutman’s opinion, there are more plays where that one came from, though he has stopped short of badgering Rampy for more looks. “No, I haven’t done that, yet,” he said, then laughed. “But it’s crossed my mind before. It’s definitely crossed my mind.”

That confident attitude is what helps make Lutman a potential standout, says assistant coach Neal Philpot. “You want every player to want that responsibility put on their shoulders, but you also want them to realize there are other players out there who can make plays, too.

“They also have to realize that you pay your dues, you do what is asked and the ball will come your way. You have to buy into the system.”

Lutman is tied for third on the team in receptions with Jon Thomas, who has been slowed considerably by an ankle injury the past four weeks, behind Derek Fisher (18 catches for 187) and Ryan Holt (13 for 157).

“We knew we were going to need a few young players to step up on the offensive side of the ball, especially at receiver,” senior fullback Nate Morris noted. “Gavin had an awesome fall camp and has continued into the season.

“I think he’s realized the difference in competition from high school to college and hopefully continues to build on his skills and not think he’s where he needs to be. Confidence is not lacking for Gavin. I think that is what helps him play this well as a freshman.”

The Gorillas (3-4 overall, 1-4 in MIAA) enter Saturday’s game at Fort Hays State coming off last weekend’s gut-wrenching 35-34 double-overtime loss to Washburn, a game in which they trailed 28-7 at the break.

They twice had chances to complete the comeback and avoid a two-game losing skid, but each time field goal tries by Jake Craig drifted wide left. A Craig missed point-after in the second extra session allowed Washburn to escape with its first victory at Carnie Smith Stadium since 1977.

“We did some great things in the second half of that game and it needs to carry over to this week’s game at Fort Hays,” Lutman said. “If it doesn’t, then it just shows we’re not playing to our full potential. You win games by playing to the best of your abilities.

“So if we don’t take this into Fort Hays, then we’re letting ourselves down.”

Lutman would relish an opportunity to make sure that doesn’t happen.