Northmont senior adds to Big Ten pipeline, signs with Northwestern

Jaiden Cameron has extended Northmont’s pipeline to Big Ten football, and no one is more grateful of that than the Thunderbolts senior.

A defensive lineman whose recruiting stock took off after his junior season, Cameron tweaked a knee in a Week 4 game this past season against Springfield. A week later he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn knee meniscus.

That extended down time allowed the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder to reflect on his career.

“There’s life after football,” he said among family, coaches, teammates and well-wishers after signing a national letter of intent to play at Northwestern University on Wednesday. “Northwestern seemed like the best program to offer me the greatest chance to succeeding in life after football.”

»» RELATED: Beavers land rare defeat of ‘Cats

Wednesday was the first of a three-day early signing period for NCAA Division I football. A relatively recent creation, it offers seniors who graduate early an opportunity to have signing ceremonies at their high schools. Previously, football recruits who graduated early missed the regular signing period, which always is the first Wednesday of February.

The signing period for all other sports, including basketball, was last month.

»» RELATED: Wayne takes the Centerville challenge

A long and active two-year defensive starter, Cameron will be a maybe for spring practice and should be good to go by summer camp at the private Evanston, Ill., campus.

Northmont also placed two graduating members of its 2018 team in the Big Ten: Gabe Newburg (Michigan) and Jestin Jacobs (Iowa).

»» PHOTOS: Wayne at Centerville boys basketball

“It’s become a great habit and I hope we can keep it going,” Northmont head coach Tony Broering said. “It’s a credit to the boys. Their hard work is what got them there, in the classroom first and foremost. Then, in the weight room and on the football field.”

Cameron had 11 solo tackles, 10 assists and one sack in four games as a senior. Northmont (6-5) qualified for the Division I, Region 2 playoffs, but it became a what-if season after the Thunderbolts lost Cameron.

»» RELATED: Wayne girls blitz Centerville

Big Ten coaches already had beaten a path to Northmont while hoping to entice Newburg and Jacobs, both of whom redshirted this season. They couldn’t help but notice Cameron, too.

“There wasn’t a lot I had to say,” Broering said. “They always ask about character and he’s one of the finest young men I’ve ever been around. Once (recruiters) checked that box, he was good to go.”

»» PHOTOS: Centerville at Wayne girls basketball

Owner of a 3.5 GPA, Cameron said he’ll pursue a degree in biomedical engineering. “I hope to improve prosthetics,” he said, “and maybe help to improve helmets, too.”

Northwestern (3-9, 1-8) is led by veteran coach Pat Fitzgerald. Former Sidney running back Isaiah Bowser has rushed for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns the last two seasons.

»» RELATED: OHSAA tweaks competitive balance

“It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” Cameron said. “I’ve always wanted to play in the Big Ten. Going to Northwestern, it’s the best of both worlds. It’s a great academic school and I get the best shot at going to the NFL, too.”

Also signing on Wednesday were Xenia linemen Gavin Gerhardt (Cincinnati) and Eric Wilson (Furman), Springfield receiver Larry Stephens (Toledo), Springfield Shawnee receiver Robie Glass (Kent State) and Indian Lake defensive lineman Nathan Reichert (Ball State).

»» RELATED: 3 high-scoring area grads on different paths

»» RELATED: Flyers match all-time state title record

»» PHOTOS: Marion Local vs. Lucas, state football

»» SOCIAL MEDIA: You should like Marc Pendleton on Facebook and Twitter

About the Author