Playing high school football deep in Big Ten country, Omari Stringer has grown up admiring the conference, which has resulted in a lot of time watching in the Big Ten Network.
One of the show's Stringer watches is The Journey , an original program that gives a behind-the-scenes look at Big Ten student athletes. As Stringer sees the show focus on Wisconsin players, a common theme has popped out to him over time.
"I see how happy everyone is," said Stringer. "They are just motivated and it looks like a great place."
Getting insight from some of his peers who have taken visits to Wisconsin and recognizing the success the program has accomplished over the last handful of years, Stringer really wanted an offer from the Badgers, which could explain why he was so elated when it finally came on Monday night.
"I couldn't even find the words (to say how excited I was) because Wisconsin is a school I really wanted an offer from," Stringer told BadgerNation. "Growing up as a Big Ten fan, I've always rooted for Wisconsin."
The Crete (IL) Monee athlete said Wisconsin wasn't even recruiting him a couple weeks ago; a process that changed after he got offensive line coach T.J. Woods' number from New Lenox (IL) Providence Catholic wide receiver WR Miles Boykin.
"That's how I really got in contact with them," said Stringer. "Coach Woods came to my school during the evaluation period. I knew he was coming, so I felt I had something to prove. I was in there lifting pretty hard, just getting after it. I must have really impressed him."
Combined with Stringer's size (6-3, 180), his junior film and Stringer's high school head coach talking him up, Stringer was evidently what Wisconsin was looking for.
The offer was a surprise for Stringer, but that's OK considering Stringer approved of how Woods went about extending the scholarship offer. Before talking to him, Woods spent roughly 30 minutes talking to Stringer's mother in a get-to-know-you conversation.
"He really surprised me," said Stringer. "He actually told my mom first that they were going to offer … They got to know each other personally, not just on a football level. That's really important. They talked about academics, coming up for a visit and why he felt I should be at Wisconsin. Through the process, all these schools don't always talk to the parents, so that's what I really like about Wisconsin. My parents are a huge part in the process."
Playing defensive tackle, defensive end, safety and cornerback for his team, Stringer ended last season with 40 tackles and four forced fumbles. He said Wisconsin is recruiting him as an outside linebacker, but has offered from schools to play a variety of positions.
Sitting on other offers from Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan, Stringer says he will be visiting the Badgers in a few weeks on June 15 and hopes to decide this summer after he sits down with his family.
"I have a lot of good offers and met a lot of good people, but I know what I want and I know what schools can fit my needs," said Stringer. "I am definitely enjoying the process. It can be a pain or one of the best times of your life, and I think it's definitely one of the best times of my life. I never felt so wanted before."