When Nebraskans think of football they normally don’t think of Jackrabbits.
But the hashtag “#NebraskaJacks” has become popular on in-state high school football players’ Twitter accounts in recent years. The creator of the hashtag is an Omaha Burke graduate.
“I was on the road and somewhere on I-80 between Omaha and Kearney and it just hit me,” said Dan Jackson, the cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at South Dakota State. “I wanted to come up with something that would have us stand out. The biggest thing in recruiting is branding.”
Jackson left his assistant coaching position at Omaha Burke for a graduate assistant job at SDSU in 2013. He was named the full-time cornerbacks coach and camp director in 2014. This recruiting cycle is Jackson’s third as the Jackrabbits’ recruiting coordinator. SDSU has made the FCS playoffs every year since 2012.
“I am extremely proud of being from Omaha and being from Nebraska,” he said. “Football in Nebraska is important to the people in the state. Nebraska is full of blue-collar kids that want to work hard and stay close to home.”
And a lot of Nebraskans have found a home in Brookings, where 20 percent of the Jackrabbits’ roster (21 of 105 players) hails from the Cornhusker State.
“Out of the 21 Nebraska guys you would be hard pressed to find guys that aren’t contributors,” Jackson said. “Nebraska guys are persistent and rarely quit.”
And there are more Nebraskans headed north.
SDSU has 13 verbal commitments in the 2019 recruiting class. The next highest number of commitments at the FCS level is five. Two of the next NebraskaJacks committed Friday when Lincoln North Star’s Luke Reimer and Auburn’s Baily Darnell gave their verbal commitments to SDSU.
“I built a strong relationship with some of the coaches throughout the whole recruiting process,” Reimer said. “They have built an awesome attitude of winning there and I wanted to be a part of that culture.”
Darnell’s only Division I scholarship offer was from South Dakota State. He committed less than two weeks after being offered.
“The coaching staff is amazing and they make you feel like family as soon as you meet them,” Darnell said. “Everything is high intensity. They work hard but they have fun doing it.”
The NebraskaJacks movement hasn’t slowed since it began in 2014. South Dakota State hosted 141 Nebraskans at two prospect camps earlier this month.
“It is still a thing with our current players on the team,” Jackson said. “The kids still talk about it.”
Heading into 2018, at least nine Nebraskans are expected to make significant contributions for SDSU:
» Senior running back Isaac Wallace (Ralston) is the leading returning rusher.
» Junior Marquise Lewis (Omaha North) and sophomore Cade Johnson (Bellevue West) are getting some preseason All-America accolades at receiver.
» Sophomore Jack Domandle (Millard West) should be in the rotation on the offensive line.
» At defensive end, junior Ryan Earith (Papillion-La Vista South) is receiving preseason All-America honors, and sophomore Elijah Wilson (Omaha Central) will play on the other side.
» Senior Makiah Slade (Lincoln Northeast), a safety, started last season against Western Illinois and Northern Iowa in the FCS playoffs. Sophomore Monte McGary (Omaha South) likely will get an opportunity to start the season at cornerback.
» Joshua Manchigiah, a sophomore out of Papillion-La Vista South, is one of the team’s top safeties.
» Luke Sellers, a four-year starting fullback for Papillion-La Vista South, will be a junior
“We can’t take a guy if they don’t love football,” Jackson said. “Ninety-five percent of the guys that we have gotten from Nebraska since I have been here love football.”
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Auburn senior-to-be Baily Darnell didn't have a Division I scholarship offer until he arrived at South Dakota State on June 11. His performance at the Jackrabbits prospect camp changed that. Click here to read the story.
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Javen Udofia has drawn early interest from UNO and South Dakota. Now he's ready to make an even bigger impact for Omaha Bryan. Click here to read the full story.
Lincoln North Star's Donovan Williams is following his brother's lead in becoming a Division I recruit. Click here to read the full story.
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Omaha Creighton Prep junior Akol Arop has had an offer from UNO since December. His second Division I offer came from Drake after a home visit with coach Darian DeVries. Click here to read the story.
A torn labrum didn't prevent Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson running back Cameron Baker from becoming one of western Iowa's top prospects. Click here to read the story.
If you are looking for a record-breaking quarterback, look no further than Lincoln High quarterback Cedric Case. Click here to read the story.
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South Sioux City guard McKenna Sims, who holds Division I offers, is the Cardinals' leader both on and off of the court. She learned that from her mom. Click here to read the story.
Logan View/Scribner-Snyder's Ben Moxness finished his career averaging 18.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, along with several school records. Click here to read the story.
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Those that closely follow Nebraska high school basketball will recognize Wes Dreamer, the 6-foot-5.5 forward at Elmwood-Murdock who is a skilled offensive player with good length and a solid face-up game. Click here to read the story.