Despite not having visited the University of Wisconsin on a recruiting trip, Millburn (N.J.) High athlete Jake Pickard knows plenty about the Badgers, specifically when it comes to the school’s academic and football tradition.
Some of his friends go to school in Madison, as well as a couple of his sister’s friends and knows that one of his friend’s dads is a big donor to the school.
So after talking with running back coach Thomas Brown for an extended period of time, Pickard finally getting a scholarship offer from the Badgers meant a little bit more.
“I’ve definitely been talking to the coaches for a bit now and they asked me to visit. I asked them if they had true interest in me in Wisconsin, and they were very interested,” Pickard told BadgerNation. “(Coach Brown) said he would have the DL coach (Chad Kauha’aha’a) and the defensive coordinator (Dave Aranda) watch my film and get back to me. I really didn’t know which way it was going to go but they watched my film and said it was a no brainer.”
The 6-6, 225-pound Pickard has made waves on both sides of the football. A three-star prospect, Scout.com ranks him as the No.46 tight end in the country, but the majority of his 13 scholarship have come with the idea of him being a defensive end, or even a defensive tackle, at the next level.
In Wisconsin’s 3-4 defensive scheme, the Badgers see Pickard at end or even outside linebacker.
“They said they like my explosive first step, how I get my hands off players and how I use my frame to my advantage,” said Pickard.
Pickard identified a top group of Boston College, Nebraska, Oregon, Syracuse and Virginia in late June with eyes of making a decision at the end of August or early September. He also had offers from Cincinnati, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisville, Purdue, Rutgers, and Temple.
With Wisconsin offering, Pickard has immediately added the Badgers to his group of favorites.
“They definitely go to the top of my list,” said Pickard. “I wasn’t planning on committing until the end of the summer or a week or two into my season. I was already planning on going out to Nebraska and Oregon later this month, so now I am going out to Wisconsin.”
“I am definitely looking at how the players interact with their positional coaches, coordinators and the head coach, the relationship the players have with their teammates and their positional teammates and how they interact off the field. I want to see how well they mesh together and how close the team is.”
Pickard is also keeping the door open to possibly return to a school to take an official visit.
“It’s getting a little overwhelming, so I’d like to get (my decision) done,” said Pickard. “Nobody from Millburn has ever done any of this, so I am kind of setting the precedent. There really wasn’t a path to follow before. It has been a great time because I’ve loved college football my whole life and having the opportunity to play it is really exciting.”