Class of 2019

Ethan Piper

PositionDL/OL
Height6/4
Weight265
HometownNorfolk, NE
High schoolNorfolk Catholic
Offer dateFeb. 28, 2018
Commit dateMarch 5, 2018

Ethan Piper has the Blackshirt posters in his room. He grew up the biggest fan of two teams: Norfolk Catholic, where he plays high school football, and the Huskers. Piper idolized one Blackshirt in particular.

“If I could be anyone, it’d be Ndamukong Suh,” Piper said.

He’ll get his chance. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Piper officially committed to Nebraska on Monday, becoming the third member — and third in-state prospect — to join coach Scott Frost’s 2019 recruiting class. Frost extended the offer Wednesday. Piper wanted to immediately accept but felt obliged to first make an unofficial visit to Iowa, which had extended to him a scholarship offer first.

But he wanted to be at Nebraska. When Frost told him over the phone that NU intends to resurrect its program with tough, in-state prospects like him, Piper was sold.

“It’s a dream come true,” Piper said.

He is slated to play 3-4 defensive end at Nebraska. He had eight sacks last season for Norfolk Catholic, a perennial power that won the 2017 Class C-1 state title and will be among the favorites to win it again. He averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for the basketball team.

He has played football since third grade and has been a lineman for almost all of that time, save a short tight end stint in junior high. He has attended Norfolk Catholic School since kindergarten, so he’s a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the Knights, who have won four state football titles since 2010.

Piper had just finished lifting in Norfolk Catholic’s upper-floor weight room last week when he grabbed his phone and started scrolling through what he’d missed. On Twitter, he had a direct message from Husker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. Call, it said. So Piper did, and Chinander eventually handed over the phone to Frost.

Cue five minutes of joy. Frost had learned Piper could dunk a basketball in eighth grade, and though Frost normally likes to meet all of the prospects in person before he extends the offer, Frost got a strong character reference from Piper’s elementary school principal.

Bill Lafleur is an ex-Husker punter and Frost’s former teammate. He coached Piper in eighth-grade basketball, too. Maybe that’s where Frost got the dunking nugget.

That speaks to Piper’s explosiveness, and coming off the ball quickly, he said, is one of his strengths as a player.

“For a guy who’s 270, 280, I have pretty good speed,” Piper said. Because he will be playing defensive line in college, Piper said he’ll be working on his footwork and technique. He likes the weight room, too.

Nebraska’s strength and conditioning palace is named after Suh — that’s a plus — but Piper may have had a harder decision between Nebraska and Iowa were it not for Frost’s return. Piper attended the Huskers’ 56-14 loss to the Hawkeyes at Memorial Stadium. He saw how Iowa dominated the second half of the game so thoroughly it looked like Nebraska quit trying.

Frost changes all that. Piper said he can sense the energy and excitement around the program, even up in Norfolk, and he was impressed with how Frost handled the decision to coach Central Florida in the bowl game while recruiting for the Huskers.

“All the players are his family,” Piper said.

Piper is a consensus three-star prospect according to the 247Sports composite service and joins in-state three stars Garrett Snodgrass (York athlete) and Garrett Nelson (Scottsbluff outside linebacker/defensive end) in the 2019 class.

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