Two-time Arkansas state champ taking talents to Vanderbilt
By EFN Staff
When you’ve won back-to-back Arkansas state championships in football there
is little else left to prove on the high school playing field for a player like
Ean Pfeifer. As a three-year starter for the Tigers, the 6’5”, 285 pound,
tackle plowed a path forward towards greatness for Bentonville High School helping
the team win the 2013 and 2014 titles. Now Pfeifer looks to extend his winning
ways to a different SEC team than most would have guessed, Vanderbilt.
Pfeifer and the rest of the Bentonville squad started the 2014
season on a path headed towards missing the playoffs rather than dominating in the
playoffs. A tough 17-16 loss to Rockhurst
High School (Kansas
City, MO) was followed by an
embarrassing 34-0 loss to Broken Arrow
High School (Broken Arrow, OK).
With the team hanging their heads wondering how to right the ship losses to New Jersey’s Bergen
Catholic (21-10) and Fort Smith Southside (10-7) only made matters worse. But
showing the aptitude of true champions the Tigers bounced back to win their
next nine games beating Fayetteville
24-21 for their second consecutive state title.
In an Elite Football Network
exclusive interview, Pfeifer sat down for a one-on-one interview discussing the
2014 state championship run, offseason workouts, and gearing up for life in the
SEC East as a future member of the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Ean, the Tigers started the season with four losses before
reeling off nine-wins in a row. What was the difference between the first four
games and the last nine?
“We went 11-2 the previous season and really thought we
would be a better team in 2014. When we lost the first four games we started questioning
ourselves. Then in the fifth game against Fort Smith Northside we were down
19-7 at halftime. We were looking at a record of 0-5 and potentially missing
the playoffs. But something clicked with the team at halftime (winning 29-26).
What clicked for the team after halftime?
“The offensive line started to click – our defense had been
playing well already. We were not a complete unit yet on offense. Our run game was
not working well. Our quarterback was not connecting with the receivers but
then everything else just started to work.”
What are your strengths on the field at right tackle?
“My biggest strength is my run blocking. I get tagged for my
pass blocking but I think I am a pretty good pass blocker. Another one of my strengths
is my ability to communicate with my teammates on the line pre-snap.”
Watching you play, you get to the next level well and finish
off your blocks with aggression is that pretty accurate?
“I’m always trying to get to the next level to take on
linebackers. I’m looking for that pancake block. I try to hammer them with all
my weight, let them know I am there.”
During one of your games I saw you took out a defender and
one of your fellow offensive linemen, does that count as two pancake blocks?
“(Laughing) No, just one. Coach always said if you get a ref
pancake that counts as two.”
What are your thoughts on how you played during your senior
“I felt like I played really well. The first four games I could
have played better. My junior year we had a great offensive line, so I did not
have as much responsibility. My senior year I was one of the top lineman so I
felt the burden on me when we lost those games. We took it upon ourselves as a
team to get better and we did. I feel like I had the best senior season I could
At what point during your winning streak did the team
realize you guys were unstoppable?
“When we beat Fayetteville
(45-2) at the end of the regular season we knew we could not be stopped. Coach even
told us. You don’t just beat a team like that the way we did by luck.”
When the clock rolled triple-zeros in the state championship
game and you had just beaten Fayetteville
a second time in four games 24-21, what was that feeling like for you?
“The feeling was even better than the previous state
championship. Not many people can say they went back-to-back. Being part of the
program my whole four years it felt great.”
You committed to Vanderbilt pretty early (June 15, 2014),
what led you to pick the Commodores so early in the recruiting process?
“It’s what the school and program has to offer for me. I
really do love football, but I didn’t just want to go to school for football.
Vandy offered me the opportunity to get a great education and I get to play in
the SEC, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
You have 13 total offers from Division-I schools, any
schools taking a late run at you trying to flip you?
“I was getting looked at by other big SEC schools but since
my sophomore year I’ve told recruiters I wanted to go to Vanderbilt. I think
because I’ve been committed to Vanderbilt for so long the other schools know I’m
When do you report to Vanderbilt?
“I report the first week of June and start taking summer
When do you think all of this work that you’ve put into your
football career so far, knowing you wanted to play for Vanderbilt since your
sophomore year, will finally sink in that you’ve made your dream a reality?
“I don’t know? I guess my first day on campus being around
the other commitments realizing that I’ve finally made it. Not many people get
to sign with a D-I school, I’m lucky.”
What are you doing now in the offseason to prepare for your
summer college workouts?
“I started Jan. 1 training with some other guys going D-I. We
train with a strength coach pretty much every day.”
When you get to Vanderbilt what position will you play?
“The coaches have told me I’m kind of a tweener. They’re
going to start me out at center but I can move to guard or tackle. I gotta beef
up a little bit before I get there.”
Have you ever snapped before?
“No background in snapping in a game. I’ve been practicing
snapping throughout high school. Our offensive line coach liked us to be able to
play every position so I’ve had some practice snapping.”
What do the Vanderbilt coaches like about your game?
“My new O-line coach at Vandy, Keven Lightner, was telling
me he likes my nastiness. Playing in the SEC you need some nastiness, kind of
tackle Dan Skipper. He’s nasty.”
You were a Super Sophomore All-Arkansas selection, what
other individual honors did you receive during your high school career?
“I was name Second-Team All-Conference as junior. My senior
year I was All-State and named to the All-Arkansas Prep First-Team. I was also named
the winner of the Willie Roaf Award given to the best offensive lineman in Arkansas.”
Is there a NFL player you like to watch play the game?
“I like watching Trent Williams, the Washington Redskins
tackle (Oklahoma Sooners). I hear stories how the guys on his team like him but
the opposition hates him because of how nasty he is during the game. I admire
Who has made the biggest impact on your football career?
“My dad (Thomas) has had the biggest impact on me. He’s
always been the one to push me. He’s always pushed me into being the best. I appreciate
what he’s done for me because it’s gotten me to where I am today.”
What was your most memorable moment on the field playing high
“In state championship game (2014) we ran a tackle screen. I
caught it on the 20 and took it down to the 2-yard line. I almost got in!”
What is your favorite part of playing football?
“I really like getting a pancake block. I like putting guys
on the ground and forcing them there against their will.”
Big, nasty, smart, and a winner what else could a college
coach want in an incoming recruit?
Ean dominated at the highest level within the state of Arkansas producing 48
pancake blocks as a junior and then picked up 50 as a senior. Over the course
of both seasons he graded out at 90 percent.
In all 13 schools have offered the prized Bentonville
lineman: Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana Tech, Memphis,
Middle Tennessee State, Nevada,
North Texas, Southern Miss, San Diego State, Tulsa,
Utah State, and Yale. Perhaps
more would have come knocking on his door if he had been more open to the
recruiting process? But setting goals, being driven to succeed, and backing up
those plans with proven success is what Ean Pfeifer is all about, why change
what works now?
And who could argue with the thought of a Vanderbilt college
education while playing football in the SEC?