Uncertainty continues to grow for college football in 2020 amidst COVID-19, but that hasn’t changed Lincoln Victor’s routine for preparation.
Sandwiched between daily workouts — first voluntary in June, then mandatory in July — at the University of Hawai’i, it’s hard-pressed to find a day when the second-year receiver from Vancouver isn’t scouring game film.
In fact, he estimates 85 percent of his week consists of dissecting film to nitpick mistakes.
“Maybe more,” Victor said last week via Zoom from his off-campus apartment in Honolulu. “I probably look at it every day.”
The 2019 Union High graduate who led the Titans to an undefeated Class 4A football season at quarterback has found a home playing receiver at Hawai’i. Last fall, he made big impacts at slotback (three touchdowns, 10 catches) and on special teams in 12 games as a true freshman. He was the team’s primary kickoff returner (494 kick-return yards).
His redshirt was lifted in mid-October last season. Seeing significant playing time on a 10-5 team that lost to Boise State for the Mountain West Championship only fuels his confidence for what he hopes is a big Year 2.
“For me, receiver allows me to be the athlete I always wanted to be,” said Victor, who played receiver for his Seattle-based 7 on 7 team, but quarterback in high school. “… I wanted more out of my first year, but I look back on it, and it was such a good first-person experience. It was good to be held back and put in when I needed to be put in. I was able to grow as a player and able to be put in a position that I am in now.
“Now being able to see not only from an offensive perspective, but a defensive and special teams perspective, I have this bigger picture of college football.”
The picture of a 2020 season, though, is still unclear. Multiple conferences have delayed the start of fall sports, or pushed them to the spring.
The Mountain West Conference hasn’t made an official announcement regarding its fall sports season. Hawai’i’s fall camp is expected to begin July 31 under new head coach Todd Graham and his staff after weeks of player-ran workouts adhering to social distance guidelines. The program lost three non-conference games to Pac-12 opponents, so its season opener now is Sept. 26 hosting Robert Morris.
Victor returned to the island June 1 for voluntary team workouts after nearly three months in Vancouver training on his own and distant learning to finish the spring academic semester. He continues to think positively for a 2020 college football season as fall camp looms, but understands the health crisis at hand. Victor said he and his teammates are screened daily by team medical staff for COVID-19 symptoms, and while he told The Columbian he feels safe taking the field, he also doesn’t want student-athletes’ health and safety put at risk for the business side of college football.
“That’s what scares me the most,” Victor said. “We’re more than just athletes. We’re more than just Xs and Os in a playbook.”
If the recent months have shown Victor anything, it’s gratitude and a time of reflection and evaluation. He takes nothing for granted — not even football — and that motivates him to continue to prepare for a 2020 college football season filled with unknowns.
“It’s not just injuries that can take away your season,” Victor said, “it could be this (COVID-19). You never know what is going to happen.
“From an appreciation standpoint,” he continued, “I’m looking at it through that lens. It’s so easy to fall into that negative energy. Seeing that is real, and seeing that is what drives me.”