Six months after Rutgers issued Shelton Applewhite Jr. his first verbal scholarship offer, the Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic quarterback still feels like a priority.
One of four offered 2018 quarterbacks in New Jersey, Applewhite said Rutgers remains aggressive in its pursuit.
“I definitely feel like I'm one of their top targets,” he said. “They get on me if I don't call them. I know I've been lacking on that at times, and they really get on me. There was one time during the open period that they came to the school just so I knew I had to call them more. It's not annoying, it's honest. It shows where I stand with them. It's one thing I really look forward to when I talk to them.”
Applewhite received his most recent taste of Rutgers in late June when he led DePaul to a playoff spot in the 7-on-7 passing camp.
“We had fun just competing and getting better as a team,” he said. “That's how I looked at it. Of course I'm thrilled every time I'm able to visit, but it's a focus on the team.”
Head coach Chris Ash twice scouted Applewhite during the event, and offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer watched him during a preliminary contest.
“I like the energy, the coaching staff has real energy,” Applewhite said. “They're always excited. Coach Ah and coach Mehringer came and watched my game. They spoke to me after. I see a real support system and love for me there. … I think I fit perfectly. I love what they do [on offense].”
Applewhite has a relationship with Rutgers safety Kiy Hesterm who played at both DePaul and Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional.
“I know when it comes down to decision time, he'll be on my back about coming to Rutgers,” Applewhite said.
Plenty of other Big Ten schools showed interest in Applewhite during spring evaluation. DePaul's quarterback visited Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State during the spring.
“Penn State, when I walked in, we just had all of the coaches lined up to meet me and talk to me,” Applewhite said. “The love there was spectacular. I was so excited to see how much love I got from those coaches. The football aspect was amazing and the people there were lovely. Michigan and Michigan State were both beautiful too. I spoke with Jim Harbaugh in his office. Michigan State was great too with the coaching.”
He aims for return trips in the summer with more offers as a goal.
“The coaches were just talking about how much I've developed since they came to watch me throw,” he said. “They want me to come back, so I'm looking forward to that.”