From the park to the spotlight, the rise of Keldric Luster

The Redhawks football team is having a historic season led by quarterback Keldric Luster.

For the junior star, this success is nothing new as Luster has shined since he first started playing football. 

“I decided to play football when I was about 5-years-old,” Luster said. “Playing up with 2nd graders, so I was the only young guy out there, I felt like I could compete with them and that’s when I knew football was my thing.”

His journey to becoming one of top quarterbacks in the state began at the age of 4 when junior Keldric Luster began pleading with his mom to try football.
“Keldric would be like mom I can do it, and I said I know you can but you can’t get injured at 4-years-old,” mom Kamesha Jones said. “But he was determined to play with that football and eventually I let him.” (Pujan Shah )

It’s a decision that’s paid off well for the Redhawks, but it’s one he had to talk his mom into. 

“We used to always go to the park and he would get into everything he saw and you know we saw some other kids, and there was a guy with his child out there practicing football and Keldric was always interested,” mom Kamesha Jones said. “I was always like every other parent who didn’t want their child to get hurt. Then one day, the guy we saw and his child asked Keldric to come and play and he got excited and went and played, then the guy invited us to practice and I was like, “no”. Then we went back and forth. Every time the guy would ask us to practice, Keldric would be like mom I can do it, and I said I know you can but you can’t get injured at 4-years-old but he was determined to play with that football and eventually I let him.” 

After starting out with flag football, Luster eventually did enough to move to pads. 

“The minute I saw him at one of his flag football games he was running the ball and his shoe came off, and he had that football and he just kept running and scored the winning touchdown with one shoe on,” Jones said. “After that we thought maybe he is ready, so we started to let him play up, and then that led him into playing pads.” 

Luster eventually entered Vandeventer Middle School, and caught the eye of Redhawks head football coach, Matt Swinnea.

“When you go back and think about watching Keldric in middle school at Vandeventer and some other things than his ability stood out,” Swinnea said. “It’s his competitiveness, humility, the fact that he liked his teammates and he’s a team player and that’s carried on to what he’s doing now you know his statistics are great he’s a great leader, he’s humble and he knows how to get along with everybody.”

With the Redhawks coming off a 20-game-losing streak, and winning just one game in the previous few years, Swinnea took a chance and named Luster the starting quarterback as a sophomore. 

Ever since that decision, the Redhawks are 16-6, winning a playoff game for the first time in over a decade.

Luster’s sophomore year speaks for itself, as he won the District 7-5A newcomer of the year despite missing the second half of the season due to an injury. 

Hurdling over a Princeton defender, quarterback Keldric Luster makes his way towards the end zone. Scoring touchdowns is nothing new for Luster in 2021 as he has a combined 50 touchdowns (30 passing, 20 rushing). (Pujan Shah)

Luster’s junior year proved his sophomore season was no fluke, leading the Redhawks to a 10-1 record with over 4,527 total yards and 50 touchdowns.

For Luster’s mother, his outstanding play is nothing new.

“It’s really amazing because I knew it was always in him,” Jones said. “He always had the drive and the passion and the love for any sport so I knew whatever he decided to do he would be amazing now.”

While proving doubters wrong with video game like numbers, Luster has remained humble and focused on the rest of the season. 

“Keldric always has proved everyone wrong and seeing that moment when he was on ESPN against Lovejoy it was amazing,” Jones said. “He was always about the team and that’s what makes me more proud is that he has always put the team first and it was never I did this I did that it was always me and the team did this.”