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BACK ON TRACK: Karns City Senior Luke Cramer Recovers From Serious Knee Injury to Earn Chance to Play College Football at Edinboro

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Ever since Luke Cramer can remember, he has yearned to play college football.

The Karns City senior could be found on most Saturdays while growing up hunkered down in front of the television, watching teams like Penn State, Pitt, Ohio State and Notre Dame play.

He also watched Division II football with keen interest. Slippery Rock University, Edinboro, Clarion.

Cramer wanted to be on those fields some day, crashing pads with the best.

(Pictured above, Luke Cramer rumbles for yardage for Karns City against Mount Union last season. Cramer will play college football at Edinboro University/photo by Holly Mead)

But a major knee injury suffered early in his junior season threatened to derail that dream.

Cramer took a screen pass in Week 2 against Redbank Valley in early September 2022 when he was hit on the inside of his right knee. He popped right up and jogged off the field.

Later, he realized the injury was serious. Eventually, it was revealed he had a torn ACL and meniscus. He didn’t undergo surgery until months later and began the arduous process of rehabilitation.

He lost the better part of junior campaign — a big one in recruiting circles.

“It was very nerve racking,” Cramer said. “I’ve always wanted to play college football and when I missed my junior year, it really bummed me out. I got cleared over the summer and I worked as hard as I could to try to get back.”

But the going was slow.

He filled the competitive void with weight lifting, and he excelled at it.

When football season rolled around again this fall, Cramer was back, but only a shell of his former self at the start of the year.

Game after game — even play after play — he got better. And better. Stronger. Quicker. Faster. The fullback and linebacker rounded into form with each sprint, each tackle, each touchdown.

By the end of the season, he was all the way back.

Cramer finished with 1,001 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns for the Gremlins.

On defense, he was also a force with a team-leading 72 tackles.

“By the end, you could tell I got myself there,” Cramer said.

But the damage of missing his junior season was already done. Cramer scrambled to get back into the recruiting picture so his long dream of playing on Saturdays could be realized.

“It was stressful. Everything is at a little faster pace,” Cramer said. “Whenever you have your junior year, you can take those visits over the summer and you can get recruited more over the summer. I didn’t have the luxury. I had to play my senior season, get my film done real quick and get it out there. The process was doubled for me. So it was very stressful to find a college.”

Cramer found one.

Edinboro University entered the picture late in the process and Cramer became quickly enamored with the school and the football program.

More so, they were giving him a chance when few would.

Cramer committed and signed to play for the Fighting Scots last week.

“Whenever I signed, it felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders a bit,” he said, smiling. “They came in toward the end. I was a bit late to the curve. Missing my junior year and just having senior film to show, whenever they showed interest, I went up for a visit.

I really showed interest in them because they gave me a shot and I took it.”

The 245-pound Cramer will play defensive end there, something he relishes.

Cramer got a lot of attention last year for his chops as a bullish runner, but his biggest asset may be his relentlessness on defense.

“I’ve always wanted to play defense. Defense was my thing,” he said. “Offense was just my secondary position in my mind, even though it did become my primary my senior season. It was always my dream to play defense in college.”

Cramer, who is also a starting guard for the Karns City basketball team with the penchant for hot shooting from the perimeter, realizes he has a lot of work to do to get ready for Division II college football.

“Bulk up a little bit and get my speed and agility back up,” Cramer said. “From high school to college, it’s just a different speed. Everyone talks about it. You have to take advantage of the time you have and get yourself ready for that.”

Cramer is also excited to play in the PSAC.

“I had a few others, but they just weren’t right fits. Edinboro was,” he said. “They have a good program and they have a good work ethic. It’s the PSAC. It’s one of the most competitive conferences in the nation.”

Cramer is healthy now. But he admits he can’t help but think about how the knee injury derailed him.

“There isn’t a day that goes by, basketball and football wise, that I don’t think about what would have been if I hadn’t gotten hurt. But you can’t think about that. You just gotta keep grinding, keep grinding and try to make what you can out of it.”
Instead, he is intent on embracing the chance he will get at Edinboro.

“I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity that they gave me,” he said.