"I got here in 2010," head coach Nate Moore said, "and Ethan was a freshman at that time. He was probably 6'2, 190-lbs, something like that. He was a kid I looked at and said he's going to play varsity for us somewhere pretty soon, but you didn't look at him as a freshman and say this is a Division-1 college football player. He's really worked hard to advance himself physically."
As a sophomore, Wolf grew to 6'4, 200-lbs. There was a senior starter returning at tight end, but the young upstart battled him toe to toe throughout the spring and summer. They were close enough that Coach Moore allowed his senior to choose whether he wanted to play tight end or defensive end, and the other spot would go to Ethan. When the senior chose defense, the rest, as they say, was history.
"He had a good sophomore year and good film. Coming out of that year, we knew we had something special. He didn't catch a ton of balls, I think he caught 20-25 balls, but he was special athletically, and the thing that sets him apart, and what got him early offers then, and still today, is his ability to block. He can reach a nine-tech, block down on a seven. We've gone unbalanced, had him play tackle on a backside counter-trey and pancake a linebacker. In the pass game, we can split him out mismatch him on a linebacker in the slot and he can pretty much do anything."
Currently sitting with 13 offers, Wolf has been on something of a roll recently with Nebraska, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina State, and others jumping in during the month of February. Moore still remembers the first offer, which came from inside the state.
"Toledo was the first offer. Coach Matukewicz, he was a new hire, and he came in and visited and we talked and I said, you've got to see our tight end. We see Ethan walking down the hallway, watch film, talk about him, and then you see him in person, and he's a legit 6'5, at that time 220-lbs, and he said, ‘if we want to have chance we better offer him.'"
Within the week, the Rockets had called and offered a scholarship. "He was kind of blown away. I called him and his dad. They didn't know about the offer. I had them come over to the house, they came over and I was able to tell them Ethan had first offer from Toledo. We've had some small town guy had guys go do things athletically, guys that have played pro baseball, a kid that went to UK and played, but it's not like it happens every day."
That has snowballed into coaches coming in during the school day, going to his basketball games, inviting him for visits, the sorts of things that can easily swell a teenager's head. Not Ethan Wolf though. He has remained the same team first, leader in the school and community that he has always been.
"He comes from a great family, and through the whole process, he's kept his head. He's not a me-me guy. He doesn't want others to think that he thinks he's God's gift or anything. He's a coach's dream. He wasn't a captain last year as a junior, but to me, you don't have to be a captain to be a leader. He's very vocal. Some guys lead by example, and there's nothing wrong with that, but you need some guys on the team who rally the troops. Ethan is one of those guys."
The offer list should continue to grow. Despite having his extensive offer list, Wolf plans to still head to camps this summer, and Moore believes there are several BCS programs who will jump in.
"At this point, Ohio State is still in the picture. It's something that could happen, but, I don't want to call it a long shot, but it's not one that we're banking on or he's banking on. If it happens great, but any kid who grows up in the state of Ohio would love to see that happen. Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue has called me, and they're interested. Michigan is legitimately interested, they want him at camp. Penn State wants him at camp. That's an iffy situation because they only so many scholarships. I could see him having an offer from everybody else in the Big Ten barring maybe Ohio State."
Wolf is likely to visit Tennessee and Michigan State in the spring along with anything else he can fit into his schedule. His basketball season ended, but baseball starts up soon, so his calendar will continue to be full. While he does not want to drag the process out, there is no decision date planned.
No matter where he ends up, Moore is confident Ethan Wolf will be a success, both in and out of football.
"He's a great kid. He's one of five siblings and he's the second oldest. He's great with his siblings, great with other kids. If you had a 17-year old daughter, you'd want her dating Ethan. That's the best compliment I can give him. He's a fine young man, and he'll do well on the football field the next four or five years and also become a great person and a fantastic member of society. If he's not playing in the NFL, he'll be the CEO of a business or doing something uber-successful."