When ATH Ethan Cox shared the news that he had been offered and accepted a preferred walk-on spot with Nebraska, it capped off a great Thanksgiving weekend for the high school senior. It had been a long journey for the Blair Bears’ quarterback but he had finally ended up exactly where he wanted to be.
Cox isn’t your typical Nebraska walk-on, either. He’s lived in the Cornhusker state for a good portion of his life, but he lived out of state until fifth grade and had ties elsewhere. Proving there’s no place like Nebraska, all of those ties fell away when Cox started following the Huskers and attended his first ‘Friday Night Lights’ camp at Memorial Stadium.
In an exclusive interview with Hail Varsity, Cox talks about what it meant to receive his preferred walk-on offer, the highs and lows of his senior season and what he’s looking forward to most about playing at Nebraska.
Q: What did it mean to you to get a preferred walk-on offer from Nebraska?
EC: It really meant the world to me. This past summer, walking on was my goal. I set my eyes on getting this offer, worked extremely hard every single day and it came true. I’m so blessed to be given this opportunity. It truly means everything right now.
Q: Growing up in Nebraska, have you always wanted to be a Husker?
EC: I actually moved to Blair in the fifth grade from Iowa and before my time in Iowa, I lived in Ohio. My parents went to Ohio State, so the love for the Big Ten has always been there. After my last move I began following the Huskers more and more. Really, they’re a team growing up that’s hard not to root for. The fan base is amazing, there’s a rich tradition there and they play great football. I started falling in love with the Husker program after the first Friday Night Lights camp this summer. Before that – at the beginning of the summer – is when I began thinking about walking on. When I was given the opportunity, there was no way I was turning it down.
Q: What other schools are you looking at?
EC: Really, my recruiting experience has been tricky. Sophomore year at quarterback, I didn’t have to run. Junior year, first game, I broke my leg. At that point, I had practically no film of me running. In order to play D1 ball, I needed film of me running to play the position I was projected at [wide receiver]. This summer I had a big day at the first Friday Night Lights camp and got my foot in the door. Then this past season, I led the state in total yards and total touchdowns after four and half games. That last half being the one that I sprained my ankle in, a grade two sprain, and again, only had film of those four and a half games. I picked up a walk on offer from Tulane about a month ago. After my first few unofficial visits to Nebraska, I quit showing interest to everyone else basically, because I knew that’s where I wanted to be. If it didn’t come, then I’d continue to look. It did, and I am rock solid in my commitment to Nebraska.
Q: What position is Nebraska looking at you specifically for? Do you believe you’d be a good fit at Nebraska in that role?
EC: I’ve been told so far that I am going in as an “athlete”, and will more than likely end up in the slot. That’s where I’ve always seen myself, and believe that’s where I can contribute the most. I love the offense as it is, obviously the slot, or “R”, gets a lot of love at Nebraska so that’s exciting.
Q: Blair went 6-5 overall and 3-1 in your district this season. Can you sum up your senior football season?
EC: Going into my senior season, our team was loaded. We then lost three key starters – our right tackle, our Mike LB (who led the team in tackles) and arguably our best receiver all out before the season even began. We had a big day, going runner up at the state 7-on-7. When I got hurt, against Elkhorn South week five, we were up 7-0 at half. We had a solid team. I managed to come back on the sprain and play, but was practically immobile. Running the ball at quarterback was a big part of our offense, and being limited to throwing, it was very easy for other teams to game plan. I finished the year with decent stats, but was obviously looking for much more out of my senior season. I know the rest of the guys were too.
There were many other injuries along the way, but that’s part of the game. It was just really disappointing. I still had a great time playing with all my brothers and made memories that will last a lifetime. I am very proud to say that I attended Blair High School. I wouldn’t have rather played anywhere else.
Q: Will you participate in any winter sports?
EC: No, I will not. I started varsity point guard in basketball for Blair, freshman and sophomore year. Junior year I decided to take the season off due to my broken leg, and get healthy again for football. This year, with a year off of basketball, and still trying to get back to 100 percent, I decided going out would not be my best move. I miss it for sure, but I know I made the right decisions.
Q: What’s something you’d want Nebraska fans to know about you?
EC: I’m just a kid from Blair, Nebraska that loves life. I love my family, friends and everyone that’s helped me get to this point. I love hunting, fishing and obviously the ultimate team sport of football. I’m just another in-state kid that’s got a chance to uphold the walk on tradition here at Nebraska, while receiving a great education. I’m ecstatic to be given this opportunity. It’s truly a blessing. I will work and push myself beyond my limits in order to hopefully make Husker Nation proud some day.