Kokomo High School football is 4-0 and 2-0 in the North Central Conference, and one former player is enjoying the team’s success while entertaining audiences playing teams like Wisconsin on national television.
Luke Cameron is a junior linebacker at Eastern Michigan University, and 2018 graduate of Kokomo High School. Cameron is ready to step up as an upperclassman this year for the Eagles, and got to work early in the season opener against Saint Francis, recording two solo tackles, one for a loss, and assisted on two others. The next game against Wisconsin this weekend, Cameron notched another three solo tackles. Cameron said he was thrilled to get back on the field after a long offseason.
“It felt great. Especially with last year with COVID, we didn’t have anyone at the games. So this year in the first game, you always think about what it’s going to be like with fans. But to actually go out and experience it, it felt like everything was normal again and it was very exciting. I loved it,” Cameron said.
When Cameron was a Wildkat, he recorded 208 total tackles, four fumble recoveries, and 11 interceptions for Kokomo in his varsity career, according to MaxPreps. Cameron also earned 882 total yards for the Wildkats, with 226 rushing yards, 78 receiving yards, 170 kick-return yards, 209 punt-return yards, and 268 interception yards.
After high school, Cameron committed to West Point in 2018, where he spent a year on the team but saw no varsity action. In 2019, Cameron transferred to Eastern Michigan and has made a big impact since. He saw action in two games in 2019. In 2020, Cameron appeared in all six games (limited season due to COVID-19), and recorded a career-best six tackles. Now as a junior, he’s ready for more responsibility.
“You get another year of maturity and in the offseason, you can learn a lot and add a lot to your game. I definitely feel like a lot better player than last year, so being able to show that on Saturdays is really nice,” he said.
In a star-studded sports county, growing up in Kokomo has its competitive advantages, Cameron said. There are a lot of college athletes coming from Howard County, and getting to compete against them as he developed his game turned him into the player he is today.
“I take a lot of pride just coming from Kokomo and staying in the same place and being brought up through that environment. It’s really been a blessing, and you know, all the guys that I played with in high school and especially in my age group and my class, I stayed close with throughout their respective college careers. The area is really a blessing to grow up and go through that, and it helped me out to where I am today,” he said.
But he also keeps tabs on the 2021 Kokomo Wildkats, he said. The team is off to a hot start, and Cameron said he likes what coach Austin Colby is doing with the program.
When Cameron got a couple weeks off from Eastern Michigan, he came home to Kokomo and attended a Wildkats practice. He said there’s a juice about the 2021 team, and after a full offseason to work together unlike 2020, the team is primed for a big jump.
“Their defense is a lot similar to the type of defenses I was playing with when I was in high school, so I expect them to come out and nail it. I think they’ve surpassed expectations in that regard and they’ve got a lot of good players,” he said.
To hear more from Cameron, check out the Q&A:
Q: What was the biggest change from high school to a Division I program?
A: I think just the main thing that’s different from college is the speed of the game. It’s faster. Practices are faster, the games are faster. It’s a lot more efficient. In high school, from the best guy on your team to the worst guy on your team, there’s a big drop off. In college, everyone is on the same playing field so to speak. Every guy you’re matching up against is on a same level with you or better, so you just have to bring it every play.
Q: Is it hard to not get extra excited for big games like Wisconsin compared to Saint Francis?
A: For me, I don’t really think it’s hard. I just count my blessings. Every game is just a blessing to be out here. For me, every game I’m fired up. You know, can bigger crowds and stuff make a difference? Yes. But for me, every game, I’m just trying to go 1-0. That’s what we pride ourselves on here at doing.
Q: Growing up, did you have any local heroes or role models from the Kokomo area?
A: When I went to the games when I was a kid, Armon Bridgeforth was one of the guys that I loved watching. I wanted to be like him. He could play both ways. He would have a bunch of yards rushing and then a couple picks in a game. He would just take over. Just going to the games on Friday nights in middle school, I just knew I wanted to be out there, and football was always my favorite sport since day one, so it’s really never changed.
Q: What's the ceiling for Eastern Michigan this season?
A: We have one goal, and that’s just to win the Mid-American Conference championship. So, that’s all we’re aiming towards, so these non-conference games, we’re just trying to get us ready for MAC play. Our vision is so clear, and our team has matured so much … So that’s really our main goal, and I think that’s our ceiling, and I think we’ll achieve it.
Q: What are some personal goals for you in the 2021 season?
A: Just take the next step in my development and become basically a game-changer as far as on the field. Every time I’m out there, to produce and make plays is my goal, and really take the next step forward in my development this year.