In Nebraska, almost every young boy grows up loving Husker football and dreams of one day donning the scarlet and cream. The same can be said for Nebraska native and South Dakota State offensive lineman Jacob Ludemann. As a junior, the Norfolk Catholic product received interest from the the Huskers, but ultimately elected to play at SDSU after his recruitment by Nebraska subsided once Bill Callahan was named head coach.
Due to some unfortunate injuries and a devastating car accident, Ludemann is now in his sixth season with the Jackrabbits, but couldn't be happier with his decision to attend SDSU.
"I knew when looking at football programs I had to pick somewhere that I would fit in and grow. The coaches here are a huge part of that. Coach Stig is not only a great coach, but he has a lot of integrity and good values. This can be seen in all aspects of our football program. My position coach, Luke Meadows, shows a level of caring for his players unlike I have seen in any other program. His efforts are not only to help us grow as football players, but as men. I felt these attitudes while being recruited here and knew that this is where I wanted to be."
Ludemann has seen many changes since stepping on campus, including the team's jump to the FCS level which the senior says has been a great thing for the university.
"Looking at the adjustment from outside the program, it has been huge. Over the last few years, we upgraded our facilities, our gear, and have developed a large fan base. We are now flying to games and playing teams we couldn't have imagined we would have played years ago. From the inside of the program little has changed. We have always been a program that has focused on hard work, effort, and attitude. The teams we face are different from before but we still come to every game, regardless of who it is, with the same goal, 1-0. We've continued to bring student athletes that are not only talented, but hard workers. Through hard work our players have been able to rise to the occasion, and out physical and out perform the teams we play."
Speaking of the Jackrabbits playing teams they have never faced before, Ludemann was a member of the team's roster when he heard the news that he eventually would get to go to battle against the same team he grew up idolizing, and the emotions quickly took over.
"I had a lot of excitement (when I found out about playing Nebraska). SDSU is becoming a stronger football program every year and to get a chance to play a team with so much history will be a major step for our program. Nebraska is doing very well this year, so it is exciting as a player and as a team to get matched up against this kind of program."
"Playing at Memorial Stadium will be a great experience. That type of environment is part of what football is about. The feel of thousands of fans all around you, while you get the chance to play one of the greatest sports. I had the chance to play on the field as a senior in high school, but being there to play the Huskers will be a whole new, exciting experience."
Not only will the Nebraska native be facing a team he is also a fan of, but he and his teammates will be doing so in front of approximately 85,000 fans. Needless to say, that crowd will quite a bit larger than what the team is used to, but the hostile environment doesn't seem to worry Ludemann.
"We have played in front of some big crowds before. Our games at Iowa State and Minnesota saw a lot fans. But this will be by far the most we have played in front of. The fact that there will be 85,000 plus watching us is cool to think about, but once you get out there it all fades away. We have played in very loud environments before and we haven't skipped a beat."
Ludemann understands what a big game like this means to his school and remains optimistic about how his team will fair against the Huskers as well as any other BCS schools they face.
"Playing BCS schools is always a source of excitement, especially since they have been against area teams that many of our athletes grew up watching. For the younger kids I think it can be kind of nerve racking, but for most us it still comes down to playing the game. When we come to play, we can compete with any team out there."
While the Jackrabbits are considered major underdogs for the game, it will be entertaining to see Ludemann, as well as the 12 other Nebraska natives on the SDSU roster, show what they're made of against the team they once dreamed of playing for. Regardless of the outcome, you can bet the Jackrabbits will be as prepared and as energized as possible once they step onto Tom Osborne Field Saturday night.
A special thanks to Jacob Ludemann for taking the time to do this interview. Ludemann, who selected to Nebraska's Shrine Game his senior year, has a Bachelors Degree in history at SDSU and is currently working on his Masters Degree educational administration.