Sunday through Saturday, Kiante Northington is focused on football. When Northington is not lifting weights, he is in the film room; when he is not in the film room, he is watching other tams compete; and when he is not doing any of these things, he is on the field—ready to pounce on the opposing team’s running backs, wide receivers or quarterbacks.
Football is Northington’s life, and it always has been. At a young age, Northington played little league baseball and football in his hometown of Louisville. A quick, athletic kid, Northington was shortstop for his high school team before quitting and focusing on football.
“Sometimes I regret quitting baseball because I was actually pretty good at it—and baseball players make way more money than football,” Northington said jokingly.
Coming out of Butler High School in 2012, Northington was selected second team all-state by the Courier-Journal and first team all-district as a wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner for Class 6A.
Despite his successes, Northington said he was not looked at closely by large-name schools. Instead, he was offered scholarships to smaller schools within the area.
After meeting previous Eastern coach Dean Hood and being offered a partial scholarship to play at Eastern, Northington took his talents 90 minutes away from home.
Coach Hood and company quickly stripped Northington of the wide receiver title he once had in high school, and converted him into a full-time defensive player during his freshman season.
The transition proved to be the right move for the 5’10, 183 lbs. player as he became an immediate impact-player for the Colonels in his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons.
As a safety his redshirt sophomore season, Northington finished third on the team in tackles (84), and recorded a fumble recovery and two interceptions in OVC play.
Last year, Northington only improved on his talented career. In 11 games, he tied for the team lead in interceptions (3), was seventh on the team in tackles (43) and came up big against the rival up the road, the University of Kentucky.
In his five years with the program, Northington has played under two different athletic directors, head coaches and university presidents.
Because he graduated with his degree in sports management in the spring, opportunities were available for Northington to leave EKU after the firing of Coach Hood and take his talents elsewhere. Nonetheless, Northington chose to stay with his team as a redshirt senior while working on his MS in Sports Administration.
“Of course getting a new coach can be scary because he’s got a different staff and a different way of doing things,” Northington said, “but it’s been a pretty smooth transition to Coach Elder.”
In fact, Northington said he and his fellow defensive backs actually have a group message with their coach included.
“Our coaches are really young, so they keep up with what’s going on and they understand us,” Northington said.
As his final season is only just beginning, Northington already leads the Colonels defense in tackles and has an interception returned for a touchdown.
With OVC play still ahead, Northington said he looks to be an important figure in the team’s success this year and hopes to play in the NFL.
“Playing in the NFL is a dream,” Northington said. “Watching what Noah Spence did, you have a high expectation for yourself and I definitely want to try it out.”
A veteran with plenty of younger players looking up to him, Northington said he hopes younger defensive backs watch what he is going through in order to prepare for their future.
“My advice to people coming into college is to know what you’re getting into,” Northington said. “Always have open ears and listen to what the older guys have to tell you.”
While his future has yet to be decided, there is no doubt that Northington will stay close to what he loves.
“If I’m given the opportunity to play in the future, of course I’m going to try it, but I really just want to do anything around sports,” said Northington.
Watch Northington go up against Ball State University in his final season Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN3.