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Ethan Wiederkehr, SWR's massive talent, has NFL aspirations

Shoreham-Wading River defensive end Ethan Wiederkehr takes down

Shoreham-Wading River defensive end Ethan Wiederkehr takes down Mercy's Nick Kneski in the second quarter of the Suffolk Division IV season-opener on Sept. 4, 2015. Credit: Daniel De Mato

It's 11 p.m. and Ethan Wiederkehr is getting another set of reps in at Defined Health and Fitness in Wading River. His father, Hans Wiederkehr, supervises the final lift in an empty gym that closed moments earlier.

"Last set," Hans said.

"Get it, let's go!"

Ethan, a junior at Shoreham-Wading River High School, pounds out the last set with a flourish and a wide grin of acknowledgment.

"The work is never done," said Ethan, a tight end/defensive end. "I have plans, man. I have goals and to reach those goals no one can outwork me. The extra minutes I put in here will make the difference when I step onto the field."

Ethan Wiederkehr has big dreams -- he wants to play in the National Football League.

His father Hans, an assistant coach at SWR, almost made it. He signed with the Steelers after graduating from Syracuse in 1986 but never got into an NFL game.

Ethan, a 6-6, 273-pound blue-chip prospect, has his sights set on schools like Ohio State, Michigan and Virginia. He's already knee deep in the recruiting process.

Shoreham-Wading River, the defending Long Island Class IV champion, has never had a player with the combination of Wiederkehr's size and ability. He is the school's first potential NFL prospect.

More than 40 schools have already knocked at his door, rang his phone and contacted his parents about the possibility of being a part of their program. Syracuse, Maryland, Rutgers and Boston College, to name a few, have expressed interest in the kid from Shoreham on the north shore of eastern Long Island.

While Syracuse might seem like the obvious choice because his father, an assistant coach at SWR, played there, it's realistic for Ethan to set his goals even higher.

"He is comparable to Brick at that age," said Freeport coach Russ Cellan, who coached Jets offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson from 2000-01. "He definitely reminds me of the Brick. He can do things at that size that I saw in the Brick. He has the size and the motor and you don't often see this kind of talent and physical attributes on Long Island. I don't know what's in Texas and Florida but he's got to be as good as what's out there."

Ethan is just like his father, who at 6-4 and 322 pounds starred at Syracuse. Size runs in the family as Hans' three brothers are all between 6-3 and 6-5 and his three sisters are as tall as 6-2. On his mother Karen's side of the family, Ethan's uncle Bob Van Dick is 6-7.

"Mom's tiny, she's only 5-11," Ethan said. "I was known as the Big Stick but my weight went from 210 to 270 and I grew three inches since sophomore year. So the nickname doesn't stick anymore."

Cellan said Wiederkehr has the so-called measurables to play big-time football.

"In the 10th grade you just don't see it, that kind of size," Cellan said. "It's the tip of the iceberg with all of the college interest and there's going to be a lot of opportunities for him. I called Virginia and the recruiting coordinator said they loved him. It wasn't even necessary for me to call because he's on everyone's list and just sells himself."

The 17-year-old Wiederkehr is quite a three-sport athlete. He starts on the defense of one of the best lacrosse teams in the state and was named the rookie of the year on the basketball team, where he averaged nine points and 11 rebounds per game.

"He is so well-grounded and just an outstanding kid," SWR football coach Matt Millheiser said. "I always felt like his technique was way ahead of his body. We had this great football player in this tall, lanky body. And once he filled out, it was watch out. What we're seeing now is a big, strong, athletic kid, who understands the game and is putting it all together. It's fun watching him go out and dominate."

Wiederkehr will line up outside the tackles, basically giving the Wildcats a sixth offensive lineman.

"He's an excellent run blocker and drives people off the ball," Millhesier said. "We move people with our tight ends and run behind them. Ethan sets that edge for the halfbacks because he gets a big push. He's very quick off the ball and has those long arms to keep people off him. He does things you can't teach."

Wiederkehr worked on his speed at the school track this summer with Dalton and Trent Crossan -- two of Sachem North's great halfbacks.

"It's all about a great work ethic," Cellan said. "He'll get offers from schools unseen because his reputation will spread like wildfire. And it's so much tougher to find a talented offensive lineman than a running back."

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