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Riley Van Poppel commits to Nebraska football

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LINCOLN — The way defensive tackle Riley Van Poppel talked about Nebraska football before his official visit to the school last weekend, it seemed likely he'd commit either during or just after the trip. 

On Monday, the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder from Argyle, Texas, did just that, becoming the eighth verbal pledge in NU's 2023 class. 

"When I went up there in March I fell in love, and, with recruiting, it’s always about a gut feeling and, I had a good gut feeling about them," Van Poppel told The World-Herald last week before his June 10 official visit. "It’s a great place and a great program going in the right direction."

The son of former major league pitcher Todd Van Poppel, Riley has a good idea of how he would fit into NU's defensive scheme, too — as an interior lineman who, once he puts on 30 or so pounds, would function much the way current Husker Ty Robinson does. 

"When you go to a place like Nebraska — with its weight and nutrition program  — I think I’d easily put on some weight and be one of those interior guys who holds the line for them," Van Poppel said. 

Van Poppel had 38 tackles — 14 for loss — and seven sacks last season for Argyle, a town just outside the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. On offense, he was quick enough to serve as an H-back blocker.

Nebraska found him when running backs coach Bryan Applewhite — who works as an area recruiter in Texas — saw Van Poppel during a "County Fair" workout in Argyle's weight room. 

“That day, someone from Nebraska started following me on Twitter,” Van Poppel said. NU Director of Player Personnel Sean Dillon was that guy.

“Next thing you know, the defensive coordinator (Erik) Chinander was coming down the next week.”

Van Poppel is a four-star prospect according to 247Sports composite and was one of NU's priority targets along the line. He's the third high school player to commit to NU in June, and the first defensive lineman in the class.  

“I want somewhere I can go to get coached and be set up to play at the next level after college,” Van Poppel said. “And I don’t want to go ride the bench for four years and not do anything. Maybe not the first year but, the second year, I want to get on the field and make a difference for that team.”

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