Back to Division One
The football life was destined for Jerin Appling. After growing up in a divided house of Broncos, 49ers and Seahawks fans united by the Oregon Ducks, he finds himself in a unique position as both a fan and a player.
“It’s kind of different once you are looking at going into colleges,” Appling said. “You’re not really a fan of the NCAA anymore.”
The Oregon native and current Panther safety not only looked at colleges, but colleges looked at him. Out of Grants Pass High School he had Division 1 offers from Eastern Washington and Portland State University and even got looked at by Yale. He eventually decided on Portland.
Before Appling had the chance to play in his first collegiate game, a detour was thrown into the path of his football life.
“I got messed up with a performance enhancing drug test,” he said. “It was a very small percentage of a drug that it was the first year on the panel and they said it was very rarely found in the United States.”
Ostarine was the drug in question when two Clemson football players were suspended and denied appeal in December 2018, and it is the drug that Appling unknowingly had in his system during the time of his drug test. He had never even heard of it before testing positive.
“I appealed it, and it didn’t go through,” he said.
As a result of the failed drug test and being stripped of his scholarship, he had to find a junior college to continue playing ball. In Portland, he became acquainted withRancho Cucamonga native and Los Osos alumnus Mason Vega, who was the link between Appling and Southern California.
“One day I got a call from the defensive coordinator [at Chaffey] and said, ‘Mason Vega told me about you’ and that was about it,” he said. “I didn’t shop myself around too much, Chaffey seemed like a pretty good fit so I decided to take the voyage and come down.”
Because he was only redshirting at Portland, Appling played in his first college-level football game as a Panther when they defeated L.A. Harbor handily on September 7. He contributed to the 44-27 victory with two tackles and a pass break up.
A week later, he got to play in front of his parents, who came down from Oregon, for the first time since high school.
“It felt like it was a reward for me to show them what I’ve been working on and a reward for them because they’ve put so much into me being in this position,” Appling said.
The game came after the celebratory tailgate event and was the first home game of season. Although these two games, along with the next two, are not conference meetings, they are important from a team standpoint as well.
“They all count towards the bowl game at the end of the year. If you want to play for first and second or third and fourth,” he said.
Appling’s time in California began in February, and he started taking classes right away. He was able to get a heavy load of classes out of the way during the Spring semester so he can focus on football during the Fall. Now he is only two classes and some game film away from graduating and getting back to the D1 level.
“The goal is to rack up as many offers as I can, have a lot of opportunities and just find the best school that fits me,” he said.
Until his time comes to move on from Chaffey, he is sharing a filled-to-the-top four bedroom house with other Chaffey student athletes.
“It’s me and like nine other kids. Most of them are football players and there’s a couple basketball players. There’s two people in each room and two in the living room,” he said of the house that lacks a couch, but is equipped with a T.V. in every room. “Everyone’s got to have a Playstation or Xbox or else we would just stare at the walls.”
Although he declares himself a D1 bounceback on Twitter and his goals are to get as far as possible as a player, he is cognizant of the possibility of not being able to.
“Every football player has that dream, but you’ve also got to be realistic at the same time,” he said. “Just to realize I’m doing this for an education and life lessons... I definitely feel like I’m going to find myself doing some sort of football thing. Maybe like a P.E. teacher and a coach."
“If I could find my way to a job in the league,” he went on, “analytics or anything like that would be super cool. I can’t see myself working 9 to 5 at a desk.”
Having grown up with football, it is a comfort Appling is not willing to give up.
“Honestly, it’s the only thing I really know how to do," he said. "If I wasn’t in football I would probably just be bored."