LINCOLN — Gage Stenger kept it all very quiet.
The Millard South two-way football star — committed for four months to Kansas State — had been offered a scholarship by Nebraska, his “dream school,” at the beginning of October. Stenger didn’t say a word on social media. Then, Stenger took a visit to NU on a Thursday — and didn’t say a word. Tuesday night, he called Husker coach Scott Frost and delivered the good news.
Wednesday, he told The World-Herald.
“I wanted to do things right out and be respectful to Kansas State,” Stenger said of NU’s quiet courting and his eventual flip to the home state school. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, who quarterbacks the state’s No. 1 team, called KSU coach Chris Klieman just before he reached out to Nebraska coaches.
“Kansas State wasn’t very happy, but I can understand it from their perspective,” Stenger said.
NU’s offer, he said, was just too good to pass up. Stenger has loved Husker football since grade school — his favorite player is former receiver Kenny Bell — and one of his friends and former teammates, Isaiah Harris, is a walk-on at Nebraska. And NU coaches, to help pitch their plan to Stenger, had him talk to sixth-year outside linebacker JoJo Domann.
Domann’s pitch — about the opportunities to play at Nebraska, and what the school has meant to him — was convincing, Stenger said. So was Frost.
“You’re excited but you keep your own voice calm because he’s so calm,” Stenger said.
Stenger has emerged as one of the state’s best players as a senior, amassing 22 total touchdowns while throwing for 1,095 yards and rushing for 507 yards through seven games. On defense, Stenger has just 12 tackles in 2021, but, in 2020, he had 51 of them, and said both Kansas State and Nebraska view him as an outside linebacker who can plan the run, cover and rush the passer. Like Domann.
South Dakota State and Kansas State moved more quickly than Nebraska, which saw Stenger over the summer when Stenger said he had “two pulled groins.”
“I didn’t even ask them what my 40 was,” Stenger said. At SDSU, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds. At NU’s camp, he had a 37-inch vertical leap.
He becomes the ninth overall commit to NU’s 2022 class and the third in-state commit, joining linebackers Ernest Hausmann and Jake Appleget. With Stenger in the fold, the Huskers may be done recruiting the linebacker position for the cycle.