EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It is more than just a number — it’s Luke’s legacy.
A year ago, the late Luke Laufenberg was enjoying his final moments with his family. After beating cancer once and earning his way back onto a college football field as a tight end at UTEP, Laufenberg’s cancer returned — only this time it was terminal. Luke died on August 22, 2019.
Since his passing, UTEP is making sure his legacy lives on. Last season, the Miners wore “Luke” decals on all of their helmets. This year, head coach Dana Dimel has created competition amongst his team for the honor to wear Luke’s No. 2 jersey, as opposed to retiring it.
“It’s such an important part of what we’re doing,” said Dimel. “The legacy of Luke is so huge.”
“I really like the idea that the jersey No. 2 that Luke was going to wear is going to be passed down to a player, but not just any player, a deserving player,” said Luke’s father Babe Laufenberg. “A guy who embodied what Luke embodied.”
That player this season in senior running back Quardraiz Wadley who has battled his way back onto the field after missing all of last season with a toe injury. This coming after leading the Miners in rushing in 2018 with 627 yards and eight total touchdowns.
“The person who wore that number before me went through a lot and he always fought until the end,” said Wadley. “That’s what we want. We want everyone to have the same characteristics as Luke did.”
“He wants to wear it,” said Dimel. “It’s something he wants to do and he came to us and asked us if he could wear it and change his number.”
Wadley didn’t just ask the coaching staff if he could wear Luke’s No. 2 — he asked Luke himself.
“He had talked about, ‘hey, if you don’t make it back, I want to wear your number.’ I thought that was neat because, Luke from up above, not only will know that someone is wearing his number, but he’ll also know it’s a friend of his,” said Babe.
Babe and Wadley have talked at length what it means to wear No. 2. Wadley, who has been named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List, also knows the responsibility that comes with wearing it and what it means to the entire Laufenberg family.
“He’ll see the people who will wear No. 2 and it’s showing him that Luke is still living. He’s living through us,” said Wadley.
It is a tradition UTEP hopes to pass down for decades. It is a tradition that keeps Luke’s legacy alive.
“There’s going to be kids in two years who never met Luke. They’re not going to know who he was or what he was about,” said Babe. “My hope is that with each kid who wears number two, every year, will tell the next guy, ‘here’s what this number means and here’s what this guy is all about.'”
The Laufenberg’s have raised nearly $50,000 in Luke’s name and have created a project to open a nutrition center on the campus of UTEP for all student-athletes.