Nebraska football continues trend of supporting multi-sport athletes
Jeremiah Charles, Jaylen Lloyd and Brice Turner made their collegiate track and field debuts at the 2024 Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational on Saturday.
Jeremiah Charles played only one season of high school football. After spending his first three years of high school focused on basketball and track, Charles decided to give football a try for his senior season at Arlington Martin High School in Texas. The rest, in some ways, is history.
That’s oversimplifying it because Charles’ recruitment was a bit of a whirlwind. The Nebraska football staff visited his high school on Jan. 17, 2023, catching a basketball game while they were there. Charles impressed on the court — putting up 22 points and four dunks — which led to an offer. Not for basketball, of course, but for football — his first offer for the sport. (North Texas offered the same day. Nebraska just happened to be first.)
Charles visited Nebraska three days later, committed three days after that and made it official by signing his letter of intent on Feb. 1, 2023. After redshirting his freshman season at Nebraska, Charles made his Husker debut over this past weekend but in a different uniform — a red Husker track and field jersey.
Counter Read is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Charles — alongside wide receiver Jaylen Lloyd and defensive back Brice Turner — made their collegiate track and field debuts at the 2024 Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational on Saturday.
We know that coach Matt Rhule and the Nebraska football staff appreciate and encourage multi-sport athletes. It’s something Rhule has preached as long as he’s been a coach, and was something he emphasized when scouting for the Carolina Panthers.
“You’ll hear a lot of old coaches talk about how they miss having guys playing baseball,” Rhule said in May 2022. “They used to play football and baseball and now it’s track. Playing centerfield, tracking the ball, all those different things, they kind of miss a little bit in today’s football. When you’re a football player coming up, you can’t really play football in the offseason. If you’re a basketball player you can play AAU, you can do all of those things. If you’re a football player . . . 7 on 7 has been coming along which is great (for) developing skills but there’s something about walking out onto the mat, onto the court, onto wherever and winning and losing. Competing, working as a teammate.”
That’s why when wrestling coach Mark Manning pitched the idea of d-lineman Nash Hutmacher giving wrestling a try this winter, Rhule was on board. There were some logistics to sort out — like the weight Hutmacher would need to get to in order to wrestle — but Rhule and d-line coach Terrance Knighton thought it was a great idea.
"He said, 'Coach Knighton and I are all about it, man. We want him to play a little lighter next year,’” Manning recently told Sports Nightly. “I reached out to Nash and then he responded . . . He said, 'Coach, I checked in with Coach Rhule and Coach Knighton and he gave us the thumbs up. Let's do it.'"
Seeing the tweets from Nebraska football about Charles, Lloyd and Turner make sense. Rhule’s program is one that celebrates its athletes for more than what they accomplish on the football field. That includes academics, which athletic director Trev Alberts recently shed insight on when it comes to Rhule and his team.
“I would say Coach Rhule has been very strong on this and he's helped me understand that part of the culture and the whole point of having people feel connected is that he wants them in a class,” Alberts told Counter Read. “He wants them here studying. It's easy to say, “Well, they're at their home”. That's when they don't feel connected. That's when they jump in the transfer portal.”
Connection and competition. Those seem to be two fundamentals of Rhule’s programs, and we’re seeing it more directly than ever in his second offseason leading the Huskers, especially as he encourages his athletes to participate in other sports and activities.
Back to the three football-track stars for a moment. Charles — who now lists himself as a “dual-student Sport Athlete” (sic) on Twitter — took second in the triple jump on Saturday with a mark of 49-11 1/4 (15.22m). As a senior in high school — or better put, one year ago this May — Charles placed second at the Texas 6A State Championships in the triple jump with a 49-2 ½.
Lloyd — who was a six-time state champion in high school — took sixth on Saturday in the triple jump with a mark of 48-4. A star at Omaha Westside High School, Lloyd was the all-class champion in both long jump and triple jump as a senior. As a sophomore, he was named the 2021-22 Gatorade Nebraska Boys Track and Field Player of the Year. He also competed on the national level in high school, winning the 2022 National Junior Olympic Championships in the long jump and finishing third in the 100 meters. He also won the national title in long jump and placed second in the triple jump at the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals.
Like his teammates, Turner also impressed as a high school track athlete. He was the 2022 Texas Class 4A state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters. His 100-meter time (10.25) would have ranked as the fifth-fastest 100-meter time in Nebraska outdoor track and field history. As for why there aren’t any results for Turner from the weekend, it’s because indoor is 60 and 200 meter sprints (and Turner is a 100 meters guy). While we wait to see him in action once again, you can get a feel for the type of runner he is from this Feb. 2023 tweet.
Now back to Rhule. If you Google “Matt Rhule multi-sport athlete,” you’ll get a long list of the multi-sport athletes Nebraska has and is recruiting to play in Lincoln. You have to imagine being able to point to players like Hutmacher, Charles, Lloyd and Turner only bolsters his recruiting pitch for those athletes now.
I’m going to leave you with one final quote from Rhule while at Carolina, only because it feels like he would say the exact same thing about his Nebraska locker room today.
“At the end of the day, our whole program, one of our core tendencies is competition,” Rhule said. “I want guys that love to compete. In college, if you can go play another sport, go play another sport. There’s a putting green in the locker room with tape where everyone made a putt from. So they compete in everything. If I say ‘hey, we’re going to run 40-yard dashes for conditioning,’ they’ll do it. If I say ‘we’re going to see who the fastest guy is,” they’ll run seven 40-yard dashes to figure out who the fastest guy on this team is.
“To get to this level, you have to be highly competitive so that was always kind of my philosophy.”
It all comes back to competition, something three Husker football players were able to highlight — and show off — at an indoor track and field meet this weekend.
A couple of quick notes:
>> Our latest edition of Trev Talks went live last week, which is a special Q&A for Counter Read paid subscribers. All of the questions came from subscribers as well, and Alberts knew that when answering (which is kind of a neat deal, in my opinion). If you’re not yet a subscriber, we’d love to have you. And for those of you that are subscribers, we truly appreciate your support.
>> Nebraska softball hosted its inaugural Fan Day on Saturday, and the Huskers shared that attendance eclipsed the 600-person mark. Even cooler, over 100 young girls were photographed front and center with the Huskers at the event.
Softball’s season begins this Thursday, Feb. 8 against Washington in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. You can get caught up with a quick look at both softball’s and baseball’s seasons ahead here.
>> The Big Ten and SEC have formed an advisory group that will, according to their release, “take a leadership role in developing solutions for a sustainable future of college sports” but has “no authority to act independently and will only serve as a consulting body.”
Remember The Alliance? Anyway, this isn’t that.
Instead, this feels like a warning of some sorts to the NCAA. Keep an eye on this one. There’s a lot to unpack, and it could get interesting very fast.