Freshman defensive tackle makes impact

He did not play organized football until his freshman year in high school.

By the time he graduated from high school, he earned all-district, all-Cape Coast, second team all-state honors and a football scholarship to play for Florida A&M University.

His name is Cameron Houston, a freshman defensive-tackle from Rockledge.

Houston has made a big impact on the Rattler defense just eight games into his college career.

He has already started five games this season and has 24 tackles (three for loss), a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

In his short time at FAMU, the six-feet, 285-pound freshman has already left a lasting impression, including a game-changing fumble recovery that he returned nine yards for a touchdown in a victory against Winston-Salem State early in the season.

“I just picked up the ball and ran it in for the touchdown just like we work on in practice,” Houston said.

Coming out of high school, FAMU was on the top of Houston’s short list of schools for which he wanted to play.

“I came to FAMU because of the reputation of the program and because of the coaching staff,” Houston said. “I had a lot of success in high school, but that was high school. This is college – a whole different game.

“I knew the college game was different the first day of practice. The pace was faster, players were bigger and able to match my strength. I also had to learn more plays,” he said.

On the practice field, Houston showed what he could do, which is one reason he highly anticipated his first game action.

“When I first put on that Rattler jersey, I was anxious to play and match up with the competition,” Houston said. “I know my teammates have my back, but I still must play with composure and follow my assignments.”

Homecoming was a chance for the defensive tackle to showcase his talent for the home crowd with four tackles, one for a loss.

“My first homecoming experience was exciting just as I expected it to be,” he said. “The whole atmosphere had me pumped up for the game, especially the crowd. It was very important to me and my teammates to come out with a victory.”

The Rattlers have won five games, four of which have come by a combined 11 points that has the young defensive tackle concerned.

“Even though we are winning a lot of close games, I feel like we are downplaying to our competition,” Houston said. “We should be defeating our opponents by a greater margin than what we are.”

The coaching staff and fellow teammates have been impressed with Houston’s actions on the field. Redshirt sophomore middle linebacker Vernon Wilder of Miami speaks highly of the freshman.

“Houston is a team guy who plays hard and leaves everything out on the field,” Wilder said. “Houston is not a vocal leader; he is quiet and humble. He leads by example on the field, which has earned respect from his teammates.”

Houston has been playing with an injured hand, which he hurt during practice a couple of weeks ago. He currently shows no signs of weakness nor does he complain of it.

Wilder, the defensive captain, who leads the team in tackles, said he knows a few things Houston can do to improve his game.

“He must get better every game and make the necessary adjustments to be effective,” Wilder said.

FAMU’s head football coach, Rubin Carter, said Houston displays a substantial amount of maturity, which is made evident by his humility and sportsmanship.

“Houston came to camp prepared, in great shape and he understood the defensive scheme,” Carter said. “Those tasks are very difficult for a freshman. It is rare to see the maturity and preparations that Houston has brought to the program.”

Carter expects Houston to get better as the season proceeds.

“The more he competes, the better he will get,” the coach said. “It is up to him to maximize his abilities, and he must learn more as he plays more, which will only help him get better. Experience is the best teacher. We will be expecting a lot from Houston in the future, and he must be able to play with that added pressure.”