Sophomore Luke Hales went from redshirt freshman, third string quarterback to starting quarterback for the Bears during the game against Houston Baptist University Oct. 6, due to sophomore starting quarterback Breylin Smith and junior second-string quarterback Kirk Baugh suffering injuries.
Coach Nathan Brown said Hales is a “very football-smart kid with great leadership skills.”
“It doesn’t matter who our quarterback is — we have the same expectations of success,” Brown said. “When you start the year off as third-team quarterback, you never think your number will be called. This is a great example to all our players on being ready when your chance comes. Luke has made the most of it and I look forward to watching him continue to grow from week to week.”
Hales said the most important thing about being quarterback is the team building and the trust developed among the players.
“Doing it for the guy next to you is a really big theme for our football team,” Hales said. “We’ve got a good group. We have a really good defense, we’ve got a lot of playmakers of offense. We have a good, young coaching staff that wants to win, so I think the sky is the limit, we’ve just got to put it all together at the right time.”
After taking a break from the game for nearly two years, Hales said he was excited to play again.
“I had surgery on my shoulders last year, both my labrums were torn in high school ... I had to do a lot of physical therapy and rehab to get my strength back. It took a long time, but it is 100 percent now.”
Hales’ football role model is former Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre, who many argue is one of the best to every play the game.
“Favre is my favorite because he loved the game. He would take risks that other guys were scared to do. He holds the record for starting the most consecutive games in a row. He was the toughest player on the field. I try and model after his gunslinging mentality — you have to take risks and be aggressive to be successful.”
In his free time, Hales enjoys hunting, fishing, watching football and playing golf with fellow quarterback Smith.
Hales is from Greenwood, Arkansas, a border city in Northwest Arkansas, where he grew up as the son of pastor Todd Hales and Mrs. Laurie Hales, along with his two siblings, Zack and Hayley.
“Greenwood is all about football,” he said. “I’ve played [football] since the third grade … that’s kind of just what everybody does in Greenwood.”
While attending Greenwood High School, Hales played the position of quarterback until his labrum injuries took him away from the position, placing him as receiver for the rest of his high school career.
He said he chose to attend UCA after high school because it was a school that offered him the chance to play football that was also close enough to home for his comfort — and he has been pleased with his experience thus far.
He is majoring in physical and teaching education with plans to one day be a high school football coach.
After college, Hales said he would gladly play for the NFL if the opportunity arises, but whether it’s coaching or playing, there is no doubt football will be in his future.