One Week to Go
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One Week to Go

In an exclusive with Badger Nation, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen talks about the high school talent level in the state of Wisconsin and where the Badgers' 2013 recruiting class stands one week from signing day.

GREEN BAY - Before he stood up to address the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association banquet in the Lambeau Field atrium, Gary Andersen had to text his youngest twin son, Chasen.

Not only was he making his first trip to one of football's historic landmarks, Andersen needed to tell his long-haired linebacker son that he was in the same building where Clay Matthews, his son's favorite player, comes to work.

"I'm spending some money as I walk out on the door on a jersey or something," Andersen said.

Entering his second month on the job since being named Wisconsin's 29th head football coach, Andersen is checking off a lot of new things on his list, one of which is meeting and greeting high school coaches and athletes from the state. Coming from Utah where Andersen says there are 166 high schools to a state with over 400, it's been a lot of leg work building connections.

Thankfully for Andersen the work has been enjoyable, especially getting a chance to go into the homes and meet the families of the seven in-state players committed to the 2013 recruiting class.

"It's very much what I am use to: tough-minded young men, academics are important, well coached and good decision makers," said Andersen. "They involved people in their life making this (college) decision. That's very much like Utah, and that was the big thing that was so attractive when I came to the University of Wisconsin for my interview with Coach Alvarez. There are a lot of similarities. Football is important in this state."

It's also important to keep the best players in state. Of the 60-plus players honored by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, nine are committed to the University of Wisconsin, including Alec James, the state's defensive player of the year, and Catholic Memorial Matt Hubley and Northland Pines Austin Ramesh, who made the first team on both sides of the ball.

Andersen can't specifically comment on the players until they sign their national letter of intent beginning February 6, but acknowledged that he's been impressed with the amount of multi-sport athletes in the state and on his 2013 commitment list.

"It starts with the kids' commitment to be great," said Andersen. "I love to see kids compete all year long and not be pigeonholed into one sport. The way they are coached is impressive and the number of consistency in coaches, as far as their tenure, is impressive. There is a commitment to play football at a high level. There's a toughness and an attitude to the football being played in the state of Wisconsin."

Following the commitments of Everett (MA) cornerback Jakarrie Washington, Santa Clarita (CA) Golden Valley linebacker Leon Jacobs and Brookfield (Wis.) East defensive end Alec James, Wisconsin sits at 15 full scholarship players in the 2013 recruiting class, meaning UW has 83 of its NCAA-mandated 85 scholarships accounted for.

UW is still in the market for a quarterback, defensive backs and possibly a running back, as Andersen said the 2013 recruiting class is still "a work in progress."

"There's a tendency when you take over a new program to just jump in and get guys to sign," said Andersen. "That'll never be my philosophy. My philosophy is to be patient. When we find a guy, it doesn't matter how many stars he has or what everybody else thinks of him. If we like him, we'll take him.

"We'll be patient recruiters but if we find a guy we like, we're going to sink our teeth to him and show him our tremendous university. That's the best thing about Wisconsin is that there is no sell job going on when you recruit to the University of Wisconsin. It's about showing a young man a tremendous opportunity academically, socially and athletically."

Andersen added that Wisconsin likely will still have available scholarships after signing day for some other players that could appear on the staff's radar.

"We're a staff that will recruit all year long," said Andersen. "Just because signing day comes doesn't mean recruiting is over."