Henry Lusk never dreamed he'd be spending six straight summers - six! - at Camp Carbon, where the University of Utah football team takes a week every year to prepare for the upcoming season.
Yet here he is again, going through dreaded two-a-day practices, spending hours cooped up in a dorm room and eating three daily meals across the street at the College of Eastern Utah cafeteria.Lusk certainly isn't complaining about being the only Ute player to participate in all six Camp Carbons. After what happened last August, Lusk is just happy to be back doing what he loves best - playing football.
"I was blessed to get another year back," said Lusk, who thought his career was over last Aug. 25 when he suffered a broken shoulder blade in a scrimmage soon after returning from Camp Carbon. Earlier this year, the NCAA granted Lusk a hardship year of eligibility.
Lusk has worked hard since January when his injury finally healed and has reported to fall practice in better shape than ever. Although he is just five pounds heavier at 230, Lusk looks much bigger than he used to.
Because of diligent running and lifting, Lusk said he is faster and stronger than a year ago. His bench press is up to 440 pounds from 400, while his squat has increased 100 pounds to 655.
He's ready to lend much-needed leadership to a young Ute squad as well as play three positions - fullback, slotback and tight end.
"I have no problem with being on the field at all times," said Lusk, who will also return punts. "I want to be on the field at all times possible."
Ute coach Ron McBride confirms what Lusk said, calling him "key" to the Utes' success.
"He's so versatile and he looks a lot better than last year. He won't come off the field," said McBride.
Lusk saw little future for himself last August when he was hit by teammate David Cunningham on a routine play and came up with a freak injury that sidelined him for the season.
"The injury was a downturn in my life," said Lusk, who felt bad he missed out on the Utes' successful 10-2 season. "But I believe there's a reason I got hurt. I'm a Christian and believe there's a reason for everything. I believe my leadership is needed for this team."
Lusk played spring ball, but admits he was tentative much of the time because of the previous injury.
"The first couple of weeks I was kind of passive," he said. "But then I set my mind to it and began playing like I never had (the injury). By the end of spring ball, I had my confidence back."
Soon after spring drills ended, Lusk graduated from the U., getting his degree in sociology. He might pursue a career in communications, but before that, he'd like a shot at the NFL, where his brother, Herb, played for several years with Philadelphia.
"That's a dream I've had ever since I was a kid," he says.
So just what does Lusk think about Camp Carbon? He says it's not that bad, that the rooms are much better than dorms in Salt Lake and that the food has always been good.
"But it has changed," says Lusk "The faces have all changed and the coaches have changed. It's much more structured now.
"I'm from the original group and that makes it special to have been with coach Mac and see him grow as a coach. It's been fun to have started from here and see the program keep climbing and climbing."