Milton's Natter signs to go to Lincoln to play for Huskers
MILTON A.J. Natter made a commitment and stuck with it.
Milton's defensive end estimates he had a dozen scholarship offers by April of last year and more could have rolled in. But Natter gave his verbal commitment to play for Bo Pelini and the Nebraska football team, a pact he kept despite witnessing Wisconsin's blowout of the Cornhuskers in the Big Ten Conference title game and the subsequent coaching change in Madison, just 37 miles from his hometown.
On Wednesday, Natter made that pledge official, signing his national letter of intent in the morning before celebrating with family and friends in the afternoon.
"Now it's official and there's no turning back, even though I knew that I had no doubts that Nebraska is the place for me," Natter said after a ceremony in front of about 100 people at Milton High's auditorium. "It was more of a comfort factor; they have everything that you need. A lot of the schools in the Big Ten had that, so it was a tough decision, but in the end I knew that I didn't want to be anywhere else."
Nebraska was the first program to offer the all-state lineman. At the time he knew relatively little about it, other than the Huskers had just joined the Big Ten—a fact that at least played a small role in his decision.
"It could've been (different)," said Natter, who became the first player from Wisconsin to sign with Nebraska since 1997. "It's nice that their away games will be closer to home for me and my parents and more accessible for all of us."
Natter, ranked the top prospect in the state by 247 Sports and among the top 25 defensive ends in the nation by multiple recruiting services, remained committed to the Huskers despite traveling to Indianapolis to see UW top Nebraska 70-31 in the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 1.
"It wasn't too fun to watch, but it's something to look back on, and now you have something to play for—that you don't want that to happen again," the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Natter said. "I think Coach (Gary) Anderson up there will be a great fit for Wisconsin. They're going to have a great time with him. But there were no second thoughts for me."
Natter plans to leave for Lincoln the day after he graduates.
He said nothing is set in stone in terms of his immediate role or whether he could potentially redshirt his first season, but Pelini said any or all of his six incoming defensive lineman could contribute immediately.
"Time will tell," he said during a signing day press conference. "Every guy's going to be a little bit different. It depends on how they pick things up, how they work between now and … Aug. 31."
"We'll see when I get there," Natter said. "They obviously need defensive ends right now, but there's nothing set in stone."
Nothing that is, except Natter's commitment to the Cornhuskers.