LINCOLN — Ben Stille didn’t have to work out at Nebraska’s Friday Night Lights camp. The Ashland-Greenwood athlete already had his offer from the Huskers. But the 6-foot-4, 234-pounder stood in line with the rest of nearly 200 campers in Memorial Stadium, waiting his turn for one-on-one drills.
When he got down in a stance at defensive end, that’s when Stille stood out, and by Saturday night, Stille had made official what many recruiting observers had expected: He committed to the Huskers for the 2016 class. He announced his decision over Twitter after attending the second of Nebraska's Big Red Weekend events. It ended a busy two months of attention for Stille, who got the Husker offer in early May.
“I’ve been working toward this most of my life,” said Stille, who had 10 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season for Ashland-Greenwood. Stille also caught 10 touchdowns as a tight end. He prefers defensive end, he said, and NU coaches are comfortable with him starting his career at that position.
For now, Stille is the second in-state commit for the 2016 class. The first, Lincoln Christian tight end Jared Bubak, has been committed to NU for more than a year but also has shown some interest in Arizona State. A third prospect, Omaha South defensive end/tight end Noah Fant, has offers from Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, Vanderbilt and UCLA.
Stille had offers from Iowa, ISU, Ohio and Vanderbilt, among others. UCLA and Oregon had shown interest. The Hawkeyes — who offered a few days before the Huskers — were Stille’s other finalist.
“Iowa and Nebraska both did a really good job of recruiting him,” said Ashland-Greenwood coach Ryan Thompson. The Hawkeyes are likely to start two native Nebraskans — Drew Ott and Nathan Bazata — on their defensive line this season.
Stille attended camp in Iowa City on June 7 and toured the facilities. He did the same on Saturday at Nebraska. He liked the coaching staffs and facilities at Nebraska and Iowa equally. He picked Nebraska for its proximity to home, “the culture there and the fan base.” He informed coach Mike Riley of his decision after a meal Saturday afternoon.
Thompson said he had a hunch that Stille, a three-star prospect according to Rivals, would pick Nebraska soon, in part because NU coaches appear intent on keeping the state’s best talent away from local rivals.
What Nebraska is getting in return, Thompson said, is a player with major upside.
“He’s just a very aggressive athlete,” Thompson said. “He understands leverage and how to win in one-on-one situations. He’s got a great get-off with his first step and he changes directions easily.”
Stille said he wants to gain weight and add speed. Thompson said Stille’s already made strides in his technique as a lineman.
He’s the eighth overall pledge in the class. NU appears likely to sign between 22 and 25 players for the 2016 class.
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