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Southampton business student goes from graduation to the gridiron

Published: 6 August 2018
Cameron Craig
Cameron will head to the USA to play American Football professionally for the Las Vegas Cobras.

For Cameron Craig, life changed forever the minute he stepped onto campus at the University of Southampton.

Eager to play rugby, Cameron attended Fresher’s Fayre in his first week with every intention of signing up for the University team. Whilst lining up to register for rugby, however, Cameron was distracted by a student wearing an American Football uniform – complete with the distinctive helmet and shoulder pads – and decided to switch queues. The rest is history – or, rather, history in the making - as Cameron will soon be on his way to the USA to play American Football professionally for Arena Football team, the Las Vegas Cobras.

Now a graduate of the Southampton Business School, with a BSc (Hons) in Business Innovation, Cameron is making preparations for the Cobras’ pre-season training camp in January ahead of the opening game of the 2019 season on 23 March. That’s quite a leap for someone who hadn’t even watched a game of American football before his arrival in Southampton. It’s also unheard of for a British player to reach the professional ranks of the game in the USA without playing the game for an American college or university. But game footage of Cameron playing for the Southampton Stags posted online caught the eye of coaches in Las Vegas who called him a few months ago to offer the chance to play professionally.

“It blows my mind,” Cameron enthuses. “I’ve only been playing American football four years; it’s all come about really fast but I’m looking forward to it.

“I chose Southampton because it was near the sea, it had a great Business School and excellent sports facilities and I had my eye on joining the rugby team,” he recalls. “I had never seen a game of American football before coming to University; I was only aware of the game from seeing it in the movies but now I’ve played for the Southampton Stags and also for Sheffield Giants and the London Warriors, who I’m playing for now, in the British national league so my career has come a long way in a very short time.”

Originally from Scotland, Cameron’s start in life gave no indication of his current prowess on the gridiron. Born six weeks early, Cameron had a number of health issues in his early years. At the age of seven, he was diagnosed with dyspraxia which affects the development of the brain and causes difficulty with coordination and movement.

Now, Cameron stands at six feet-four inches and shows no signs of his earlier problems. In fact, his size and agility play favourably into his chances of being successful in Las Vegas where he’ll play an indoor version of American Football that will require him to play on both sides of the ball – something he’s experienced with the Southampton Stags.

“This last season, 2017-18, for Southampton has been my favourite,” he adds. “We went undefeated and I got the opportunity to play on defense and offense which is quite a professional challenge but that versatility will stand me in good stead for the Cobras.

“Joining the Stags was one of the biggest highlights of my life and my time at the University of Southampton has been fantastic,” says Cameron. “Just walking onto that field the first time for the Stags and not having a clue about any of it at first, then slowly learning more and more about the game has been amazing. I’ve made a lot of friends, lifelong friends, amongst the players and coaches and I’m sure the same will happen in Las Vegas.”

Cameron has already been welcomed into the Cobra ‘family’ of players and coaches, many of whom have sent him goodwill messages already long before he arrives in the USA. His coaches in Las Vegas have also been in touch with a full programme of training and nutritional advice to prepare him for the rigours of the new season.

“One thing I’m learning, and have learned throughout university, is that American football is really a family sport,” says Cameron. “You hear that a lot but I’ve played a lot of other sports and with American football, the team is a family. I’ve had video messages from Cobra players saying ‘our family is your family’ and it’s fantastic. It was the same with the Stags.”

Cameron’s own family is also backing him as they have all of his life. His father and mother, Scott and Louise, were surprised when he first took up American football but have travelled to watch him play throughout his career at Southampton, Sheffield and London and look forward to the opportunity to cheer him on in Las Vegas.

“We’ll be there every step of the way,” says Scott. “He’s living the dream and we’re here to support him as he takes the next step.”

 

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Cameron with mum Louise, dad Scott, sister Hannah and brother-in-law Tom.
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“I’ve only been playing American football four years; it’s all come about really fast but I’m looking forward to it," says Cameron Craig.
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Cameron and dad Scott who says, “He’s living the dream and we’re here to support him as he takes the next step.”
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Cameron Craig will play offense and defense for the Las Vegas Cobras.

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