BOISE — Dillon Lukehart would wake up each fall Friday to the banging of pots and pans and his dad screaming ‘It’s game day’ throughout the house during his playing days at Eagle High.
But his father, Dan, has even more reason to be excited for Dillon’s games now that his son is following in his footsteps as a Boise State Bronco.
Dan, a former Bronco and member of Boise State’s 1980 Division I-AA national championship team, has the rare treat of watching his son play for the same school and on the same field as he did more than 30 years ago.
And while he no longer lives with his son and can’t get to him with the kitchen utensils, the proud papa still has his ways of keeping the tradition alive.
“I’ll call him and scream ‘game day’ and then just hang up,” Dan Lukehart said.
But that’s not all.
“He sends me texts in all caps, ‘GAME DAY’, ‘GO GET EM’, ‘PLAY PROUD’, ‘HIT PEOPLE,’ that sort of thing,” Dillon Lukehart said.
Dillon grew up rooting for Boise State and attending games since his family moved back to the area when he was about 8 years old. He’d tailgate in the parking lot and load up his face with blue paint, screaming from the top of his lungs for the Bronco defense to make a stop.
Years later, he’s the one making the plays and earning the cheers.
It’s the fairy tale that every kid in the Treasure Valley one day dreams of doing. And Dillon, a sophomore special teams standout who has recently seen increased time at safety, is playing out the scenario in real life.
“It’s been a blast,” Lukehart said. “It’s a dream come true. I remember when I was like 10 years old, 12 years old, standing in the end zone full of body paint and blue and all the way though high school, just watching the games and dreaming of playing here. Now, actually playing here is a dream come true. I just can’t take it for granted and enjoy it every day.”
Lukehart scored 51 touchdowns in three seasons as a running back on the varsity team at Eagle High and also played safety. But when the recruiting process began to play out, he got only one offer — from Idaho.
He committed to the Vandals in December of his senior year, but things changed in mid-January when the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream came true. The Broncos offered him a scholarship to stay at home and play at Boise State — and it didn’t take long for him to say yes.
“The recruiting process didn’t really go the way that I thought it would, but I think it happened the way it was supposed to happen,” Lukehart said. “I’m really happy where I’m at and I couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff, a better place to be. It’s a dream come true.”
Added Dan: “It was all about him, he’s the one that made the decision. He came home and told (his mother) Teri and I that he was going to be a Bronco, and that’s when it really got exciting. … It was his dream.”
Lukehart was named Boise State’s scout team special teams player of the year during his redshirt freshman season in 2011. He made his Bronco debut in 2012, appearing in all 13 games and quickly becoming a standout on special teams. He also saw time at safety and finished with 15 tackles.
But he’s made even more of an impact as a sophomore this fall. Lukehart continues to play a key role on special teams but took advantage of an injury to safety Jeremy Ioane and has excelled with increased playing time at safety.
He is seventh on the team with 18 tackles.
“It’s been a great opportunity for him,” Dan Lukehart said. “Dillon’s been around the Broncos since he was 10 years old, when he went to his first Bronco camp. He painted his face up with the other kids. He’s been a Bronco fan since we moved back here.
“I think he’s a better athlete than I was. He’s taken it to a new level. He’s doing a great job. He’s a high output guy and he wants to make every play. Dillon has been working his tail off to be a Bronco and that’s what it takes.”
Dillon’s mother Teri Ann ran hurdles on the track team at Boise State, which is where Dan says his son got his quickness and speed. And while Dan and Teri Ann don’t see their son much during football season, watching him fulfill his lifelong dream is about as good as it gets.
“It’s what everybody would think it would be like,” Dan Lukehart said. “You just look out there and you find him, and it’s all about the team — that’s the most important thing — it’s more than just your son, but it’s super cool and awesome to see him be able to contribute.”