Wingo takes over as starting quarterback

Freshman quarterback shakes hands with junior wide receiver Jason Smith the Oct. 13 game against Valdosta State at Braly Stadium. Wingo played in his first game as UNA’s starting quarterback against West Georgia Oct. 18. Wingo accomplished more than 300 yards of total offense in his first showing as a college starter. 

Luke Wingo is a freshman from Tuscaloosa who has worked his way into the starting role as quarterback for the Lions this season.

Wingo played his first college start as the starting quarterback in the Oct. 18 game at West Georgia.

In the game, Wingo had 312 yards of total offense, which included 86 rushing yards and 226 passing yards. 

Wingo also scored two touchdowns in the game.

Wingo, however, hasn’t always been the star of the show.

Wingo said that he didn’t receive much attention from recruiters as a junior in at Hillcrest High School.

“Then in my senior year, I had some calls from West Alabama, a few GSC teams, I guess,” Wingo said. “By January I had several offers and didn’t hear from UNA until a little bit later.”

Wingo said he liked the new staff assembled by head coach Bobby Wallace and that’s when he made his final decision.

“My last visit to UNA is when I felt like it was the place for me,” he said. “I was hanging out with some of the guys and it felt like a good fit.”

As a quarterback, Wingo said he wanted to play for offensive coordinator Cody Gross.

“I had run a similar offense in high school, the zone option, and I knew I wanted to play for Coach Gross,” Wingo said. “I felt like I could pick it up quick.”

Wingo said when he got to Florence he enjoyed being able to get away from a city like Tuscaloosa with such a big school.

“I was used to being around (the University of) Alabama and I liked how more personal Florence felt,” Wingo said.

Wingo said that as a freshman he has chosen business as his major but that he is keeping his mind open to see what else he might like to do or what else might interest him.

As quarterback for the Lions, Wingo stressed that consistency is important and he feels like that is his strongest attribute.

“Teammates react to how consistent I am as a quarterback — the good or the bad stuff,” Wingo said. “So when I’m out there I need to stay the same and stay calm.

“In this offense I may take some hits, but I have to get back up and show them that I can continue to run this offense and keep things going.”

Since coming into UNA as a freshman, Wingo has relied on players and coaches to help him through the transition.

“All the quarterbacks, especially through summer camp, we all helped each other out a lot because we are close group of guys,” Wingo said. “It was also a tight quarterback race during the summer, so that helped to push us.

“Coach Gross has also been a huge help in my transition. He is like family and I know that he wants the best for not only me but for all of us.”

The hardest part for Wingo when transitioning from high school to UNA has been the time put into training.

“It hasn’t been too bad, but the time we put into practice and film study is a lot,” Wingo said.  

Wingo said he is confident in his abilities but he is able to succeed because of his teammates.

“The offense might run through me but everyone knows it’s not just one player out there doing it,” Wingo said. “If I score a touchdown, it’s because of the line; or if I throw a good pass, someone else had to make a great catch.”

Even as a freshman, Wingo said he’s  ready to help return UNA to glory.

“I give all credit to Jesus Christ for my ability to be doing what I’m doing and I’m ready for this, and I’m going to get better year after year,” Wingo said. “I want to help make it back to the way UNA used to be.”