The Huskers’ newest commit Riley Van Poppel announced his commitment to Nebraska on Twitter and he stepped away from his phone. He went and did chores since the those don’t stop when you commit to a Big Ten school. He wasn’t prepared for what was next.
When the defender usually posts something to Twitter it gets around 100 likes. When Van Poppel returned to his phone after cutting the grass his commitment post had over 2,000 likes.
This was a whole new level for Van Poppel. He became the latest Nebraska commitment during his official visit this weekend. It was his second visit to campus and he had a good idea that he loved Nebraska. The defender was excited to get back to Lincoln and show both his parents everything that he loved. The visit did not disappoint.
“It was a great,” Van Poppel said. “They took us around, they showed us so much about the school academically, the football program, just anything you can imagine they were there for us. They treat you like family and they are there for what you need. It was just amazing. It’s hard to put into words how great they were to us and how grateful I am for that.”
Van Poppel’s player host was offensive lineman Henry Lutovsky. The two got along well and defensive front coach Mike Dawson paired them together. They actually broke the ice before the Texan got to Nebraska for his visit. The thing that Van Poppel enjoyed the most was hanging out with Lutovsky and the rest of the players.
“We had fun times at night just hanging out,” Van Poppel said. “It really felt like a team because I’m hanging out with all the guys and we all just joined together and did stuff together. It feels like a family and it feels like they accepted me like that. It feels like I’ve been up there for two years busting my guts with the guys but I haven’t. That’s what it felt like, and I loved it.”
One of the things that draws Van Poppel to Nebraska is his relationship with Dawson. They’ve built a nice bond, and during his visit in the spring the defender enjoyed seeing Dawson coach. He elaborated on what makes Dawson easy to get along with.
“That guy, he’s a mix of everything,” Van Poppel said. “He is a great guy, great person to talk to. He’s friendly and he’s also high energy. He is one of the most high energy guys I’ve ever been around. That’s great in a coach especially the defensive line spot. It was great to get around him.”
It was also nice for the Texan to be around defensive coordinator Erik Chinander again as well as coach Bryan Applewhite. Those coaches played a role in his recruitment, too. Applewhite’s time at TCU made Van Poppel feel more at home. He feels that it has been easy building bonds with everyone he’s met on the Nebraska coaching staff.
One of the specific things that came up last weekend was how the Huskers plan to use Van Poppel on defense. It matches up perfectly with what the high schooler sees for his future in college.
“They base mainly out of a 4-2-5 defense,” Van Poppel said. “They go into a little bit of odd front every once in a while, but they see me as one of those interior guys. I’m gonna go up there, hit that weight program they have and I’m gonna put on some weight.”
Van Poppel spent time with Dave Ellis during his trip in March and his official visit over the weekend. Ellis ran some tests and the Huskers think he could end up playing at 295 pounds with 23% body fat. That would put him right in line with most NFL defensive linemen which excites the prospect. He’s currently 265 pounds and 25% body fat so he thinks hitting that goal is achievable at Nebraska.
When Van Poppel committed to the coaching staff it was at a country club on Saturday night. There was a dinner for the recruits and the driving range was open for people to hit balls. Van Poppel gathered Frost, Dawson and Chinander. They didn’t seem sure of what was happening, but they got the idea pretty fast.
“I started off telling them how grateful I am for everything they had done with a great trip,” Van Poppel said. “Then I let them know I want to be a part of the team. They were pumped. Coach Frost’s immediate reaction was he asked me if I was in and shook my hand. I told him, ‘Yes, sir’ and I looked him straight in the eyes. I had a little moment with Coach Chin [Chinander] and Coach Dawson.”
It was a high energy moment for everyone and the entire staff was excited for the commitment. His parents had a feeling that moment was coming because going into the weekend he kept talking about how much he loves Nebraska. He even made jokes about committing to the team with his parents. There are several reasons why Van Poppel knows that Nebraska is the place for him.
“I would say number one is the people. Whether that’s the people in the city, the people on the support staff or the people on the coaching staff,” Van Poppel said. “The people at all levels are great. They don’t just want to see you as a football player. They want to see you as more than that. They see you as a person. They truly care for you and what you can do and life after football. I’d also say the feeling. It feels like home and then also the tradition. Nothing beats Nebraska football and what they have going on there is something I want to be a part of.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.