Austin Jablonski spent most of his high school playing days at Lincoln Pius X committed to the idea of playing quarterback in college.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder wanted to be a signal-caller at the next level and had opportunities to do that in NCAA Division II.
In the end, though, the prospect of playing for Nebraska as a walk-on was too much to pass up, even though the Husker staff envisions him playing a different position.
“I really wasn’t open to (changing positions) for any other school besides the University of Nebraska,” Jablonski said this week as he prepares to play in the Shrine Bowl. “They (NU coaches) were upfront with me and they were honest with me about how they wanted to recruit me, and that’s really just the way it went.”
Jablonski was one of the top quarterbacks in Class A during his senior season, completing 57% of his throws for 1,807 yards and 20 touchdowns while throwing only five interceptions. He also paced Pius X in the running game, finishing with 592 rushing yards (4.1 per carry) and nine touchdowns.
“It’s a tough situation, because you obviously want to go to school for free somewhere, but when Nebraska offered (the walk-on spot), I knew I had to,” said Jablonski, who announced his commitment on Christmas Eve. “I tried to put it to the back of my mind for a little bit and think about all these other Division II schools I could go to, but there really is no place like Nebraska.”
Jablonski spent a week at NU getting acclimated to the offseason workout program and college life before taking this week to participate in the Shrine Bowl. Then it will be back to learning the ins and outs of being an offensive skill position player. Jablonski is listed as a tight end on the Huskers.com roster and could prove to be a versatile option there.
Coach Sean Beckton’s room, of course, is one of the most settled on the team, with junior Jack Stoll, sophomores Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal, redshirt freshman Katerian Legrone and freshman midyear enrollee Chris Hickman rounding out the scholarship options. Redshirt freshman walk-on Bryson Krull impressed last year, and Jablonski and Lincoln High walk-on John Goodwin join the group this summer.
Jablonski, of course, also played basketball for Pius X, earning Class B all-state honorable mention from the Journal Star last winter after averaging 11.1 points and five rebounds per game.
There’s power, of course, in having options. Jablonski had plenty, but in the end felt the strongest pull toward staying in town and playing for NU.
“I knew right away in my heart that I wanted to take it,” he said. “It’s just a dream come true.”