Ethan Piper wanted to keep his word to the first Power Five college to offer him a scholarship, but he also knew his recruitment changed radically last week.
The Norfolk Catholic lineman was set to travel to Iowa this weekend to attend a junior day and take an unofficial recruiting visit, but then Wednesday night received a scholarship offer from Nebraska.
The two-way standout even said at the time that he thought his heart was in Lincoln, but that he wanted to keep his word to the Hawkeyes' coaches and at least take the trip.
Eventually, though, he changed his plans. His heart was set.
“I thought about it for several hours and then called up the recruiting coach and told him, ‘I just got an offer from Nebraska and I just don’t want to waste your time. My heart’s here in Nebraska.’”
Piper made official his verbal commitment to the Huskers on Monday morning, becoming the third member of the school’s 2019 recruiting class.
Instead of visiting Iowa City, he had a family get-together to celebrate the dream offer and his future as a Husker.
“For the last probably six years I’ve always wanted to play Nebraska football, so it’s kind of a dream come true (committing) to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers,” he told the Journal Star.
In making his commitment public on Twitter, Piper expanded on what it meant for a kid from Norfolk to know he’s going to play at Memorial Stadium.
"We never had season tickets but would find a way to take the whole family to at least one game per season where I'd sit next to people I'd never met (who sometimes left me finish off their popcorn) and we'd leave as friends,” he tweeted. “Football is not just a game or a sport here in this state, but the lifeblood of being a Nebraskan. To wear this jersey means so much -- an honor and responsibility that I will do everything I can to uphold."
The 6-foot-4, 280-pouner was a first-team Super-State selection as an offensive lineman by the Journal Star in the fall after leading Norfolk Catholic to a 13-0 mark and the Class C-1 state title. On defense, he finished with 103 tackles and eight sacks.
“He’s very strong, yet very mobile as well," Knights head coach Jeff Bellar said in November. "That combination is extremely rare for kids his size. He has the frame to go up to 300 pounds and not lose any of his quickness or speed. He’s a good student in the classroom and he understands the game very well.”
Piper said last week that he's willing to play either side, though he appears likely to start his career in Lincoln on the defensive side considering defensive coordinator Erik Chinander had a hand in his recruitment, along with inside linebackers coach and in-state recruiting lead Barrett Ruud.
Both Rivals and 247Sports rank Piper as a three-star prospect. He also plays basketball and throws shot put and discus and said he’s looking forward to finishing his last year-plus of high school strong.
All three pledges for the 2019 class to date are in-state players, as Piper joins Scottsbluff lineman Garrett Nelson and York athlete Garrett Snodgrass.
The Huskers also have scholarship offers out to Omaha Burke tight end Chris Hickman and linebacker Nick Henrich.
“I think it’s great that Nebraska is starting to recruit from in-state and I’m just blessed to be one of the top guys on their list,” Piper said. “I’m really excited for what’s to come for Nebraska football.”