Football, not fútbol, is Mexico native Ian Luyando's passion

Like many kids growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, Ian Luyando gave soccer a shot.

"It just wasn't my thing," he said.

American football is his thing. The Aurora University Spartans are reaping the benefit.

A junior quarterback whose family moved to Buffalo Grove in 2019, Luyando's dual-threat abilities help drive coach Don Beebe's West Coast spread offense.

"He's just as dangerous with his feet as he is with his arm. A really good athlete, very intelligent," Beebe said.

"He is as complete of a quarterback as I've coached."

Leading an offense that averages 58.4 points, second only to North Central College's 61.7 nationally, Aurora (10-0) opens the NCAA Division III playoffs at noon Saturday against Coe College (9-1), at Spartan Athletic Park in Montgomery.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Luyando brings 2,983 yards of offense into the game.

He's completed 169 of 258 passes (65.5%) for 2,492 yards, 39 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Luyando adds 491 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns, second to teammate Jhe'Quay Chretin's 1,241 yards rushing.

"I feel like I'm a guy who can create plays out of anything," Luyando said.

"I feel like I'm pretty accurate, I'm really good at decision making, that's one thing I'm most proud of," he said.

Starting in 2011 at 8 years old, Ian had followed the example of his father, Arturo, who played football in Guadalajara.

A fan of the college game, "I grew up watching football," Ian Luyando said.

A former NFL receiver, Beebe had fielded a tip from Buffalo Bills teammate Pete Metzelaars, who was working an NFL camp in Mexico City that Luyando attended.

"He said, 'You're recruiting Mexico?'" Beebe said.

Not exactly. Besides, Luyando was only a sophomore at Borregos Guadalajara High School. But Beebe remembered.

After taking a job transfer, Arturo and Veronica Luyando moved to Buffalo Grove in 2019 with their children Ian, Andre and Kyana.

"We always wanted to move up here because there's more opportunities for athletes," Ian said.

Beebe followed up during Luyando's brief, six-game Buffalo Grove football stint. The quarterback missed his junior year recovering from a torn ACL in his last game in Mexico but earned Daily Herald Northwest Cook County All-Area honors as a senior in the 2020-21 season postponed and shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Aurora University, Luyando watched and learned from Gagliardi Trophy finalist Gavin Zimbleman and then Josh Swanson last season.

"This past summer he came into his own from a leadership level," Beebe said. "He's really a humble guy who all the players love to have out there."

Luyando gets his ego checked rooming off-campus with Spartans defensive linemen Otis Watts and Gemale Sheali, but he dishes it out against the opposition.

Tied for fourth nationally in Division III in touchdown passes and No. 7 in passing efficiency at 191.87, Luyando has thrown 6 touchdown passes in a game three times this season.

"The human being that Don Beebe is, he's someone you strive to be," Luyando said. "And football-wise, he knows everything. As an offensive coordinator he puts you in position to succeed so many times, and so many times our wide receivers are running wide open. It makes my job so much easier."

Luyando dreamed of playing college football. But his dream is not complete.

"No, not yet," he said, "I think there are a couple things I need to accomplish. The first one is winning a national championship, that's the big one."

Among the "most complete" quarterbacks Aurora University's Don Beebe has coached, Spartans junior Ian Luyando grew up idolizing American football in Guadalajara, Mexico. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann
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