Ethan Piper had the opening to seize the opportunity he’d dreamed about since his childhood. Only a handful of in-state prospects pick up full scholarship offers from Nebraska’s flagship university.
“Growing up as a kid, I always wanted to be a Nebraska Cornhusker,” Piper told Land of 10. “Committing [Monday] was a dream come true. I don’t have much else to say. It’s really exciting.”
Nebraska offered Piper, a 3-star defensive tackle from Norfolk, last Wednesday. By Monday morning, he had his mind made up. Piper shut down his recruitment and committed to the Huskers. Piper said he was a little surprised how quickly he moved from offer to courtship to commitment. But when you know, you know.
“I really wanted to go there even before they offered me,” Piper said. “I kind of just wanted to commit right when I had the chance to commit. Just wanted to get that out of way.”
— Ethan Piper (@epipe71) March 5, 2018
According to the 247Sports composite rankings, Piper is the No. 62 defensive tackle and No. 992 overall prospect in the class.
On the day the offer came in, Piper had just finished a workout when he checked his phone. Waiting for him was a direct message on Twitter from Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. The two connected on the phone for a 5-minute conversation. Then, Chinander put Piper on with Scott Frost.
The two talked for about 10 minutes, but Piper remembers hearing this part from Frost clearly.
“He said, ‘I just want to offer you a scholarship because I feel like Nebraska really wants you and we build our program around kids like you,'” Piper said.
“It was crazy,” Piper continued. “Growing up in Nebraska, you always hear about the 1990s teams and how all their kids that played for them were all pretty much from Nebraska. To be part of that tradition is pretty much crazy to me. It still hasn’t soaked in right now.”
Piper is the third member of the 2019 class, joining fellow 3-star prospects Garrett Nelson and Garrett Snodgrass. All three are from Nebraska.
Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud first made contact with Piper a little more than a month ago, when the staff began recruiting the 2019 class in earnest. Piper actually called Ruud and committed to Nebraska’s inside linebackers coach because he felt it was only right to inform him of his decision first.
“He was pretty stoked,” Piper said. “He just said, ‘You’re making the right choice. I’m really excited for you to come here.'”
Piper said Ruud also challenged him to set a good example for the rest of the class by continuing to work hard.
Now that Piper is locked in as a member of the class, it’s a huge relief for him, he said.
“It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Piper said. “It just makes me want to work even harder in the weight room and at practice and stuff. I’m just really excited.”
Piper said his family was “pumped” about the decision. His friends had seen reports Piper was going to commit and asked him where he’d be going. (Piper held offers from Iowa, South Dakota State and Ohio, as well.) Piper told them to be patient. When they saw the post on Twitter, they congratulated him.
“They were like, ‘Oh, nice decision,'” Piper said. “They were just really happy that I chose Nebraska.”
Come Monday night, Piper was just getting around to thanking everyone who had wished him well. After all, he had school and track practice, just like any normal high school kid.
“It’s been kind of a busy Monday,” Piper joked.
But this wasn’t just a normal Monday, because this Nebraska high school standout took the next step to achieving his dream and running out of the tunnel to the roars of a sold-out Memorial Stadium crowd.
“I’m just really excited to make Nebraska great again and bring back the mentality that Nebraska is a powerhouse,” Piper said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get there. I just want to bring back Nebraska tradition and restore [the program].”