Since he was young, as a young boy growing up in Ottawa, Jesse Luketa always had dreams of playing in the NFL. He played football with the South Ottawa Mustangs, and Cumberland Panthers in club football as well as the St. Patrick’s Irish in High School while in Ottawa before he followed in the footsteps of now Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore to cross the border for high school.
Gallimore went to Canada Prep where he had the opportunity to play against a number of American high schools and showcase his talents in front of scouts at the next level. As a friend of his growing up Luketa saw what Gallimore did and wanted to do the same to be able to further his football career. He did so with Mercyhurst Preparatory School in Erie, Pennsylvania and made a name for himself early on there. Luketa was named a four star recruit out of Mercyhurst and had over 30 offers to play football at the division one level.
Among those offers were big name programs like Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Baylor, Indiana, Boston College, and of course Penn State where he ended up playing four seasons, and ultimately starring as a Nittany Lion.
With Penn State, Luketa had quite the career. He played alongside a number of NFL players including defensive stars Micah Parsons, Jayson Oweh, Arnold Ebiketie, and Jaquan Baker. Even with that talent around him, he still managed to stick out as well. With 151 tackles over his four years as a Nittany Lion, one sack, 6 pass deflections and a pick six he solidified his position and role on the defence as a play maker. Luketa’s numbers over his career were great. They are much better than average, but they don’t really stick out as much as some of the players you see drafted in the first round, but some can argue that his film is much better than those drafted before him.
His film demonstrates a lot of different things. If you watch it all in order, coming out of high school Luketa was a linebacker for Penn State. He was impressing everyone at linebacker, and then as time went by, and come his junior year when Micah Parsons left Penn State his role enlarged. He was not only playing linebacker but he was also seen on the defensive line at edge rusher as well. As a senior, he starred at defensive end, and was making play after play at that position. Not only stopping the run, making tackles for loss but also being efficient in the pass game, getting after the quarterback and getting a pick six off of the line. Overall, Luketa’s film is impressive. For that he got a lot of attention and in a result had the invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where his name only got bigger.
At the Senior Bowl he had success all week. He put his name on the map, if it wasn’t already. People were talking about him on a daily and he became the talk of every practice in Mobile, and capping off the week with two sacks in the game, it was a beautiful week for the Ottawa-raised football player. It really put concrete into the fact that he will be an NFL player.
And he now will be an NFL player with the Arizona Cardinals after being drafted with the 256th pick in the 7th round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
With the Cardinals he will be an immediate help, and is bound to make an impact not only with this new team but his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Not only will they be getting immediate help to add to their young defence with similar style player Isaiah Simmons on the roster, but Luketa is easily going to be THE steal of the NFL Draft. Not only because he is a stud on the field but because of the kind of person he is off of the field as well.
At the Senior Bowl when Zlomislic met with Luketa he talked about him and his friend Neville Gallimore and how they manifested these opportunities that they are getting. Luketa said, “It’s just going back to us sitting in a room before we even had the opportunity to even be in the situation we’re in playing in the senior bowl. We spoke it into existence,” he continued, “I’m a firm believer of manifestation. We spoke about us being in this exact situation and for me to be here, although it may be surreal sometimes, it’s expected and I’m extremely grateful to be in this position I’m in right now and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Ottawa has to produce moving forward because the talent is there, it’s more so just having that scope transferred over to all of the kids that have the dream to do the same thing we have.”