Scott Frost wasn’t hitting on buzzwords or harping on disillusionment when he promised during his introductory news conference on Dec. 3 that he would put an end to the drain of talent from Nebraska’s high school products to other programs.
Monday was an example of how seriously he and his staff intend on following through on that pledge.
Frost inherited two commitments in his 2019 recruiting class, 3-star prospects Garrett Nelson and Garrett Snodgrass, both of whom are from Nebraska. On Monday, the Huskers added a third member from the state to the class in 3-star defensive tackle Ethan Piper, who is from Norfolk, Neb.
Piper received an offer from Nebraska last Wednesday. Apparently, he needed just the weekend to decide that Nebraska was the place for him. In his announcement post on Twitter, he declared that this was a dream come true for him.
— Ethan Piper (@epipe71) March 5, 2018
This is Nebraska’s first commitment since November, when Snodgrass popped for the Huskers. Piper joining the class bumped Nebraska to sixth in the Big Ten and No. 31 in the country, according to the 247Sports composite. He also held offers from Iowa, South Dakota State and Ohio.
Piper’s commitment has on-field value, but the most important aspect of the recruitment ― albeit brief ― is that Frost is not afraid to go hard after in-state talent. That pursuit, in turn, can have advantages. The Huskers picked up depth at a position that will be key for them in this recruiting cycle. This is especially true after Nebraska failed to sign anyone to the position in the 2018 class, striking out on Nebraska natives Masry Mapieu and Bryson Williams at the spot.
Frost could not afford to find himself in that situation again. He offered Piper early, built trust quickly and walked away with a commitment in less than a week. It’s a clinic on how to take care of business with any recruit, but especially pivotal when going after a prospect inside your state’s borders.
While Piper’s commitment is good for image and perception, it’s also a positive on the field. Piper is the No. 62 defensive tackle in the class. He’s 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds. For someone that size, he has good feet and moves well. He’ll also have the chance to fill out his frame even more once he arrives to Lincoln.
With Piper’s commitment, Nebraska now has a very real chance to secure the five top prospects from Nebraska in this class, since they’re three-fifths of the way there. But the challenge now lies in landing the top 2 players in the state, Omaha Burke teammates and 4-star players Nick Henrich (inside linebacker) and Chris Hickman (tight end). Each prospect’s recruitment has reached the national level, so keeping them close to home will prove difficult.
But it is doable. It’s also essential.
Piper sees Frost and his staff building something at Nebraska. Frost sees the value in prioritizing the state’s top talent, not just through the revitalized walk-on program, but when a scholarship is warranted. Frost’s investments close to home will pay off, or at least he hopes.
But Piper’s decision Monday reaffirmed one thing for certain: When Scott Frost makes promises, he expects to deliver on them.