Luke Fortner was recently drafted to play center for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fortner, a Sylvania Northview alumni, graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in mechanical engineering. In addition to having numerous awards as a result of his football and academic performances, Fortner has gained a valuable perspective because of his experiences throughout the progression of his career.
Fortner started off his journey in Sylvania. He played many sports growing up, but when he got to high school, he decided to invest his energy into playing football. During his time at Northview playing football, he benefited greatly from the program.
“I had super good head coaches who cared a lot about the football program and the kids in it,” he recalled. Because of this, the Wildcats started to get better, and kept improving. Fortner said that at first he wasn’t that gifted of a player. However, this is what led him to working hard to improve until he got good, which is the process the team was going through as a whole.
Fortner said that this is also the process that he went through at the University of Kentucky. He was again the “new guy,” and this inspired him to work hard to improve. “You had to accept the fact that you weren’t going to play in the games right away, that you’d have to spend a year working out in the weight room, and on the practice field. Struggling helped me in the long run, from being not so great in the beginning to ending up doing okay.”
While Fortner was working hard on the field, off the field he was also pushing himself academically. Focusing on these two things at once “took a toll” on him, but he continued to work on both until he graduated. He also was granted an extra year to play for Kentucky because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was after this that he was drafted into the NFL, which Fortner said was an amazing experience. “It was super incredible; everything I could hope for.”
Currently, Fortner is training for his time with the Jaguars. He hopes to improve to match the level of his new teammates and competitors, and is using his previous experiences as building blocks in this new period.
“Because, when you learn how to get better at football, that can change who you are as a player. Through that process, you learn what you need to improve on to get stronger.”
Although he has left Sylvania, Fortner said that his time here has had an indelible effect on him. “I’m a firm believer that wherever you grow up shapes you into the person who you are. Sylvania district made me the person that I am. I’ve never met anyone there who I was not a fan of. I’ll always remember that.”