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Jeremiah Stovall

Nebraska defensive back Jeremiah Stovall (35) stretches before a March practice at Hawks Championship Center.

He apparently was an absolute demon in intramural flag football.

But it wasn't enough for him. He still had an itch for the real thing.

After all, Jeremiah Stovall was a first-team Super-State selection at Creighton Prep in 2014.

Nevertheless, he attracted scant interest from college programs. Nebraska never contacted him about being even a walk-on. But in the fall of 2015, he came to Lincoln anyway, enrolling in classes as a regular college student -- albeit with strangely strong prowess in intramurals.

That October, though, he caught wind of a tryout being held on campus. This was the real deal.

This was the Huskers.

He evidently was well-prepared for the real deal because he not only made the team, he is now working with Nebraska's second tier of cornerbacks behind first-stringers Lamar Jackson, Eric Lee and Dicaprio Bootle.

"It's crazy," Stovall said. "I'm blessed."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Stovall often is on the field with Avery Anderson, a four-star defensive back recruit in Nebraska's class of 2015. Stovall is a roommate of Jackson, the most decorated player in NU's class of 2016.

As for Stovall, "When I was in high school, I wasn't really recruited much," he said. "So I was kind of iffy about playing in college. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was like, 'Well, I'm just going to step away from football. Just go to Lincoln. Be close to home. Be a student.' It was hard to do."

Even harder than he initially expected.

"I got bored being a student," he said, his voice trailing.

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Good news arrived from his father, Christopher Stovall, who alerted Jeremiah about the tryout.

"I wanted to see if I could play at the Division I level," the younger Stovall said.

He said he "called around the stadium" in search of information about the tryout and eventually got into contact with Chris Brasfield, then the Huskers' director of high school relations. After receiving details about the tryout, Stovall showed up, did some drills, ran a 40-yard dash — the gamut.

Of about 50 prospects on hand, he said, three ultimately were invited to join the Huskers for workouts starting in January (punter Isaac Armstrong of Lincoln and defensive back Tanner Zlab of Wilber were the others).

Stovall added depth in the secondary last season, but didn't play in a game. But he's moved up the depth chart, which maybe shouldn't be surprising when you consider that as a senior at Creighton Prep, he had six interceptions, eight pass breakups, two blocked kicks and 45 tackles for the Class A state runner-up.

Stovall follows in the footsteps of his brother, Zach Stovall, who walked on as a defensive back at Nebraska five years ago. Zach told his younger brother what to expect, and Jeremiah must have listened intently.

"I'm one of his biggest fans," Jackson said. "He comes in each day and works hard. It's starting to pay off. He's starting to move up the depth charts. He hasn't disappointed anybody yet."

Jackson said Stovall "has a different hunger. We don't look at him like a walk-on or nothing like that. He's one of us. He matches our energy. He tries to do what we do.

"Like I said, it's paying off."

Stovall believes in the importance of a powerful work ethic — on the field, in the weight room and in the film room.

"I never expect anything," he said. "I just try to come out here and work hard every day. Just try to do my best. You keep working hard, and it eventually pays off."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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