Safety D.J. Cameron being challenged to become elite college football player

    D.J. Cameron

    D.J. Cameron
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    Aug 13, 2013

    By Tom Weber
    SIUSalukis.com

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Defensive coordinator Bubba Schweigert pulled safety D.J. Cameron aside after a recent practice and told him it's time to take his game up a notch.

    It's not that the muscular, 6-foot-1 sophomore was having a bad practice, it's just that he didn't dominate the action the way a player with his immense ability could.

    "We have high expectations for D.J. because he showed a year ago that he's capable of making big plays," Schweigert explained. "When he plays at a high level, our group back there can feed off him. His challenge is to be consistent every day, practice after practice."

    As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Cameron started 10 games and led the team in interceptions, while making 58 tackles. He looked like a budding star.

    "He has a long body, can really run for a bigger guy, and can make some interceptions in space," Schweigert noted. "He's effective in underneath coverage and can get to a lot of deep balls. He's capable of doing everything we ask our safeties to do."

    Schweigert continued, "Then in the spring, he really improved in run support. A year ago, he wasn't a real physical football player yet. He's really picked up that part of his game."

    In other words, Cameron is potentially the total package at safety, or as Schweigert said, "he can change the tone of practice out here with the plays he's capable of making. He can have a big impact on our defense. He'll play intense. It's a learning process that he needs to be intense each and every down."

    For his part, Cameron understands he's still competing for a starting job in a deep secondary that also includes Luke Thuston, Anthony Thompson and Boo Rodgers -- all three have extensive experience in SIU's scheme.

     

     

    Cameron has never shied from competition, though, pointing to his high school days at Hazelwood Central (Mo.) where he was a two-time All-State performer for one of the best high school programs in Missouri.

    "A lot of people didn't want to go to Hazelwood Central for the simple fact of the competition level," Cameron said. "I still chose to go to Hazelwood, because I like to compete, and I was put on varsity as a sophomore."

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch listed him among the area's 30 best players, and Cameron received recruiting interest from schools such as Indiana, Mississippi State and Missouri. Rather than wait for BCS offer that may never come, he chose to sign with that school from Carbondale "that kept calling me."

    Cameron is easy to spot on the football field with the dreadlocks he started growing at age 14 now freely flowing from the back of his helmet. Although a pro football career would be his first choice, he'd like to be a high school guidance counselor where he can share some of the wisdom he learned from his father, David Cameron, and his grandfather.

    "The challenges and obstacles everyone faces growing up, they were always there to help me with those things," he said.

    His current challenge is to become an elite college football player.

    **************************

    Yesterday, I pointed out that the offensive line was punished for its practice performance by having to run the steep hill in the North end zone. Twenty-four hours later, they were back on that same hill, but this time, it appeared voluntary. Like a band of warriors climbing Mount Suribachi, the O-line charged up the hill and encouraged each other with battle cries. After finishing, they huddled briefly, then marched off the field. Several of them taunted the defensive line to come join them on the hill. Something special is going on with this group.

    **************************

    The Salukis have some options for building depth on the line. Today in practice, they spent a few series with Tanner Crum at guard instead of center, and Corey Boemer at tackle instead of guard. That paved the way for sophomore Matt Griffith to take some reps at center. I don't know how he figures in the plans, but redshirt freshman walk-on G Cody Pollock has administered a number of pancake blocks during the last few practices.

    **************************

    NT Raysean Golden is coming on strong, blowing up plays with backfield penetration. On one play today, he manhandled highly touted freshman G Kijana Evans. He also beat G Jamarcus Robinson and starting C Tanner Crum, though Crum got the better of him on the majority of plays.

    **************************

    Basketball fans will remember that DE Calvin Belts helped out last year's team when they were short on big men. Now, the 6-foot-5 sophomore appears on the verge of contributing to the football team. He's getting more and more reps with the first and second teams in SIU's search for pass rushers. In high school, he had 35 sacks at Richmond Heights (Mo.).

    **************************

    Strictly as a precaution, QB Kory Faulkner and RB Malcolm Agnew did not practice today as they nurse minor injuries. QB Ryan West ran the first team offense and completed a TD pass to TE Adam Fuehne off a bootleg. West looked off the safety and allowed time for the route to develop. Later, he threw a touchdown to FB Ray Agnew. QB A.J. Hill made a nice touchdown toss to WR Israel Lamprakes.

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