Versatility is the name of the game for Jake Appleget
Story by Shane G. Gilster • Photos by Greg Blobaum
The pipeline from Lincoln Southeast High School to the University of Nebraska continues to flow smoothly with the signing of Jake Appleget.
“He is a Husker through and through and a Lincoln kid,” NU coach Scott Frost said of Appleget at his signing day news conference. “We do not want to miss out on really good athletes that we think can develop into really good players for us, especially here in the state of Nebraska. So, Jake was a pretty easy decision for us and we are looking forward to spending more time with him.”
Appleget, who is the lone Lincoln native in the 2022 Nebraska recruiting class, follows most recently the Gifford brothers who also played at Southeast. Luke currently plays for the Dallas Cowboys, and Isaac is a sophomore defensive back for the Huskers.
“It is an honor to walk the same halls in high school as other guys who have gone on to play at Nebraska.” Appleget said.
Appleget was recruited by another Southeast grad in NU inside linebacker coach Barrett Ruud, who was happy to extend an offer back in June after Appleget worked out for the Nebraska coaches in person on the first day after the NCAA dead period.
Appleget, at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, is ranked as the No. 8 player in the state by 247Sports. He chose Nebraska over Minnesota, which offered after he attended a Gopher camp.
“My first offer was from South Dakota State during my sophomore year,” Appleget said. “Then I picked up some more FCS offers along the way and interest from some Ivy League schools.”
Nebraska was his second FBS offer. Northern Illinois was his first.
But for Appleget it was all about Nebraska. NU first contacted him the summer before his junior year, and the conversations were steady from there. After the June 1 offer from the Huskers, he committed later that month.
“I felt a connection with Coach Ruud and can’t wait to play for him and the rest of the coaches at Nebraska,” Appleget said. “Coaching stability in the collegiate level doesn’t really exist, so you can’t pick a school solely on coaching because they might not be there the following year. I’m just lucky to have Coach Frost and the defensive staff still there. Mike Dawson will be my position coach and he and Ruud bond really well together. They both have really good knowledge of the game.”
Dawson coaches the outside linebackers, a position Appleget projects to in college. But Appleget excelled on both sides of the ball in high school, so nothing is set in stone.
“Initially (Nebraska) liked me at inside linebacker, then it went to tight end or outside linebacker, then to whatever I would like to play,” Appleget said. “I liked playing defense more, making big plays, being the one delivering the hit. They see me playing the outside linebacker position where Caleb Tannor plays.”
Appleget said he likes coming off the edge and also dropping back into coverage. He played outside linebacker as a sophomore and switched to inside his junior and senior years at Southeast.
“Wherever they need me, I’ll play it,” he said.
As a senior, Appleget totaled more than 70 tackles with one interception and two pass breakups. On offense, he had 30 catches for 427 yards and eight touchdowns with 19 carries for 109 yards and one score.
Appleget was a two-year captain at Southeast, “something that doesn’t really happen for us,” Southeast coach Ryan Gottula said.
He also excelled on offense as a receiver.
“At Southeast we make all of our kids practice on both sides of the ball,” Gottula said. “Some may play a little more on one side or the other, but a kid like Jake, he’s too good of an athlete to not be on the field as much as he can.”
Gottula said Nebraska will like Appleget’s versatility and could see him playing as a freshman on special teams as well as outside linebacker, but wouldn’t be surprised if Appleget eventually ends up as a receiver.
“He can do a lot of different things to help a football team,” Gottula said. “He has a good frame to get up to that 230- to 240-pound range. Athletically, Jake is right there with anybody we have had at Southeast in terms of measurables. His vertical jump is 40 inches and runs the 40 in the 4.5s. He is also a great kid and a great worker which is going to help transition to college.”
“I get my talent from God,” she said. “God put this dream in my heart and I have been chasing it ever since.”