Options and Interest for Natter

Becoming a hot commodity with four offers from Big Ten schools, Milton (Wis.) defensive end A.J. Natter continues to be one of the hottest junior recruits in the state of Wisconsin.

MADISON - Recruiting for the Class of 2013 is in full swing, and the in-state class for Wisconsin could be one of the deepest in years, especially at a defensive end position that includes Chikwe Obasih (Brookfield Central), Alec James (Brookfield East) and A.J. Natter (Milton).

Despite a disappointing team record in 2011-12, the 6-6, 230-pound Natter had a great junior campaign. He accumulated about 80 tackles, eight sacks, five forced fumbles and two blocked kicks on special teams, good enough to earn him second team All-State honors as defensive end.

After a solid year on the field, Natter has started to see his stock rise around the Midwest with six offers from Boston College, Purdue, Nebraska, Minnesota, Western Michigan and Michigan State.

"I've been talking to Michigan State quite a bit," Natter told Badger Nation. "I'm going up there for their junior day on February 25. They really like me as a player and are looking at me as a tight end, as well. Boston College wants me to come out sometime this summer or spring, too."

Having grown up in Wisconsin, the Badgers have made their presence known in Natter's recruitment. Even though Natter won't be able to attend the Badgers' junior day because of a commitment to attend the same event at Nebraska, he still has heard from Wisconsin since his main recruiter – Bob Bostad – left for Pittsburgh.

"I understand with all the coaching changes that they have had in the last couple weeks that they are pretty busy right now," Natter said. "I'm excited to meet the new coaches and have heard, from a few people that they are a really good bunch. I'm excited to meet them and see what they are all about. Coach (Luke) Swan has been down here once and has talked to me through the phone. Coach Partridge visited the other day, talked to my coach and watched me while I worked out."

Wisconsin typically waits to offer in-state juniors until junior day. Since he can't attend the weekend event, could an offer be on its way from the Badgers?

"My coach said that he (Partridge) wants me on the team, and he has to get the word from Coach Bielema before that can happen," Natter said. ‘Coach Partridge is going to try to set something up where I can come up for a spring practice and meet everybody."

With his growing list of offers and plans to go to practices at Michigan State, Western Michigan and Wisconsin, Natter is looking for a few specific things in order to make his decision.

"I want a coaching staff that really makes you feel at home," he said. "I want a staff that really cares about you. I want to meet the players and see how they act around each other. I'm just focusing on that feeling of home. Coaches, team chemistry, and the fan base are going to be important. Education is another big thing. I know kids say that all the time, but my family gets on me about hitting the books. I want to get a good education and make it worth it. There aren't a lot of guys that make it to the big leagues, so I want to have a backup plan if football doesn't work out for me. Distance isn't really a big factor for me."

Natter is receiving most of his interest at defensive end, but some schools, like Michigan State, could project him to follow closer to his father's footsteps.

"Some of these schools are looking at me as a tight end," he said. "I haven't played much of it since my freshman year. I'm really looking forward to it because I like making the big plays, and I think offense would be a good place to show off my skills. My dad was a split end when he played college ball. I really don't care where I go as long as I help the team out. I really like defensive end. I actually prefer defensive end, but I wouldn't mind playing tight end."

Another possibly factor could be another of Natter's sports.

"I'm a pretty good disc thrower," he said. "I think I'm in the top 25 in the nation in throwing. I haven't really thought about track in college. I am more focused on football. I haven't talked to coaches about throwing in college or anything like that. I had the opportunity for a few junior days for track this spring, but I'm not focusing on it right now."

While Natter doesn't have a specific date in mind, he already knows he won't be waiting until signing day.

"I want to make my official visit before I commit," he said. "I really want to see more of the campuses and more of the universities before I make my decision. I don't think I am going to make it early, but I'm not going to be making it on signing day either. I don't want to leave the coaches in the dust. I don't want to be the one player the coaches are waiting on, and then they can't fill their spots. It will all depend on how the recruiting process goes for me."

The Badgers have yet to offer an in-state prospect.


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