The new Rutgers coaching staff remains aggressive in local recruiting and 2018 quarterback Shelton Applewhite Jr. Jr. became the latest beneficiary.
Applewhite, a 6-foot-4 sophomore at Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic, received his first verbal scholarship offer this week after he called the new staff. Applewhite spoke with both offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer and head coach Chris Ash about a local college opportunity.
“You always dream of having a big school to offer you and then, wow, it finally happened,” Applewhite said. “You want it to be a great school like Rutgers, but it’s a very humbling experience and it’s a blessing at the same time.”
Rutgers transitions into a power-spread offense this season and away from the long-time pro-style seen at High Point Solutions Stadium. Rutgers would be in year three of a new offense by the time Applewhite reaches the college level.
“Coach Ash said how he loved my game tape and he thought I would fit perfect in his offense,” Applewhite said. “From what we talked about, I think I could be a very good fit with what they’re doing.”
Applewhite won a state championship at Rutgers this season with a 40-17 victory over St. John Vianney. As a sophomore, he played in 11 games with 1,262 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Applewhite was also a weapon on the ground alongside five-star Kareem Walker with 5.2 yards per rush and two touchdowns.
“I have a lot of family in state and it’s special,” Applewhite said. “Rutgers will always be a choice that I consider because they were the first to see my talent and offer me a scholarship. It’s only right for me to keep them in the top as things go on no matter what happens.”
Applewhite attends the same school as many 2016 and 2017 Rutgers targets. Safeties Davon Jacobs and Kiy Hester also attended DePaul before they landed with the Scarlet Knights. Applewhite and other DePaul teammates will be back at Rutgers Feb. 13 for an underclassman visitor day.
“I was really excited [when I played there],” Applewhite said. “It was awesome coming out of the tunnel and hearing the fans and seeing all of the people there and getting to play at a big type of school. I looked around and thought I could play at this level. It’s a great atmosphere. Even when I went to the spring game, the fans were really crazy. It caught my attention.”