Three Ventura College football alumni continued their dreams of playing in the National Football League on the final day of the NFL Draft Saturday. Jake Luton, the 2016 SCFA Northern Conference Offensive Player of the Year for VC, was drafted in the sixth round, the 189th pick overall, by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meanwhile 2017 Northern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jessie Lemonier signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. Case Cookus, a grey-shirt member of the VC's 2014 team was signed by the New York Giants.
Luton came to VC for the 2016 season, transferring from the University of Idaho. He led the pirates to an 8-3 overall record with a perfect 5-0 mark in the SCFA Northern Conference. He was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year, and also earned All-State recognition by the California Community College Football Coaches Association. The sophomore from Marysville, WA set single-season program records for passing yards (3,551) and passing touchdowns (40), while completing 261 passes on the season, which is second all-time at VC. Despite playing just one year for the Pirates, Luton holds the career record for touchdown passes passing yards and is third in total completions.
Luton signed with Oregon State and spent parts of three seasons in Corvallis. This past season he started 11 games for the Beavers passing for 28 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He became just the third quarterback in OSU history to throw for more than 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions or less in the same season. Luton finished his Oregon State career with 42 touchdown passes, which ranks fifth most in program history, and 5,227 passing yards, which ranks seventh.
Luton becomes the third former Pirate to be drafted in recent history. The sixth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars joins VC Hall of Famer Will Poole (2004) and Jordan Cameron (2011) as VC alumni to hear their name called at the draft.
Lemonier, a graduate of Hialeah High School in Miami, FL, spent three years at VC, earning the SCFA Northern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award as a sophomore in 2017. He had 79 tackles, including 8.5 sacks in leading the Pirates to an 8-3 season that year, 5-0 in conference play. He also had 18 tackles for a loss in 2017, which lists second on the program's all-time single-season records. Lemonier had 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks his freshman season in 2015.
Lemonier transferred to Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA where he was a standout defensive end for two seasons for the Flames. He played in 25 games at Liberty, finishing with 29 tackles for loss and 20.5 sacks.
Cookus, a Thousand Oaks High School product, had a unique VC football experience. He was competing for the starting quarterback spot in 2014 before an injury forced him to the sidelines. He spent the season as a grey-shirt with the Pirates' Northern Conference championship team, and came back to spring practice as the Pirates' No. 1 signal caller. He had such a good spring that Northern Arizona signed him to a scholarship without ever playing a down in the orange and black.
Cookus then had a stellar career with the Lumberjacks. He set single-season program records for passing yards (4,114), completions (290) and total offense (4,133) last season. He concluded his career as NAU's all-time leader in passing yards (12,082), total offense (12,314), passing touchdowns (105), 300-yard games (20) and 400-yard games (5) and ranks second in completions (892) and third in completion percentage (62.3).