Brandon Kipper has set a high goal for himself — becoming a first-round NFL Draft pick.
And after a season at Hawaii, the 2017 Columbia High grad felt he needed to transfer to reach that goal. Kipper announced his intention to transfer Jan. 19, and on Wednesday night, he verbally committed to a scholarship offer from Oregon State.
“If that’s my goal, I have to put myself in the situation where I have the support and the tools I need to achieve that goal,” Kipper said. “While I love the people here (at Hawaii) and I love the relationships I’ve gotten, I don’t feel like it’s a good situation or a program that, right now, is fit to help me get there.
“That’s a hard choice to make, but you have to do some things for yourself sometimes. You have to bet on yourself.”
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive lineman played in 11 of Hawaii’s 12 games last fall as a true freshman. He didn’t start, but he saw a lot of playing time as the team’s sixth offensive lineman.
Kipper chose the Beavers over an offer from Arkansas. He said Iowa State also planned to make an offer during a visit this weekend, but he immediately felt at home at Oregon State.
I want to be a first-round draft pick. That’s a dream and a goal. You’re probably going to put that in the paper, go for it. ... I’ll scream it from the top of a mountain. Everyone can hear me say it, I don’t care.
Brandon Kipper, Columbia High graduate
Former Boise State quarterbacks coach and Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith took over the Beavers in November.
“Oregon State, honestly at the time, they were on my board. They were on my watch list,” Kipper said. “But I won’t lie. Arkansas, Iowa State, they sounded a lot better.
“But when I got to Oregon State and met Coach Smith, I just saw what the place was about. ... I just really believed in everything he was saying and really bought in. I’m really excited. I think we’re not only going to change that program around, I think you’re going to see Oregon State a lot more than you have in the past.”
Kipper started all four years at Columbia, was the school’s student body president and earned second-team 5A All-Idaho honors as a senior. Scout.com rated him as a three-star prospect coming out of high school, when he chose Hawaii over offers from Army, UTEP, Montana, Montana State, Weber State and Portland State, as well as a wrestling scholarship from George Mason.
He finished his senior season as the two-time, 5A heavyweight state wrestling champ, as the heavyweight champ at the elite Reno Tournament of Champions and with a 48-0 record, which was the first undefeated season in Columbia wrestling history.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Kipper will have to sit out the 2018 season, which he can use as his redshirt year. Even after playing so many snaps as a true freshman, Kipper said taking a year to focus solely on adding muscle and developing into an NFL-caliber prospect is what he wanted.
“I graded out pretty well,” Kipper said. “But I felt like I could have been 30 times better had I had that year to redshirt and sit out and get to where I need to be to be a college monster.”
Treasure Valley Division I football commits
Ahead of National Signing Day on Wednesday, eight Treasure Valley high school seniors or recent graduates have committed to or signed a Division I football scholarship. Rocky Mountain’s Keeghan Freeborn and Carter Kuehl signed during the early period in December.
Zack Bennett, OL, Rocky Mountain (2016), Florida Atlantic
Michael Davis, TE, Columbia, Idaho State
Khalil Forehand, ATH, Bishop Kelly, Idaho
Keeghan Freeborn, NT, Rocky Mountain, Boise State
DeMonte Horton, WR, Skyview, Idaho State
Brandon Kipper, OL, Columbia (2017), Oregon State
Carter Kuehl, RB, Rocky Mountain, Air Force
Jacob Pinkney, DE/OLB, Timberline, Idaho State