Antonio Freeman, a 6-foot, 185-pound defensive back from Wauwatosa West High High School (Wis.) has hardly lacked attention from colleges over the last couple of years. He has a book filled with letters from some of the top schools nationwide.
But the letters are primarily from track coaches, hoping to land a top national prospect in that sport. When it comes to football, things have been pretty quiet. So when the Wisconsin football program offered him a full ride in his favorite sport, he was ecstatic.
"The joy rate just went up," Freeman said about his offer. "I filled out a questionnaire my sophomore year, and they started sending me mail every day, then the next thing you know, I'm getting Fed Ex Packages. I was just waiting."
Freeman is expecting a track offer from Florida soon, but he wants to play college football in addition to track, and Wisconsin is the only Division I program that has expressed considerable interest in him doing both.
"I love football. It's a real explosive, fast game and I love it," Freeman said. "I try to use my speed as much as possible, but I'm not too small of a guy. I like to hit. I play strong safety for my high school team. I didn't get too much in the flat. It seemed like they were scared to throw over there. And I make the tackle when there's the chance."
Freeman's track numbers should be enough to turn more heads in the Big Ten and beyond. Last season, Freeman posted a 10.60 in the 100-meters at the AAU National Outdoors, and was clocked at a 21.2 in the 200-meters during last year's high school season. He is currently running a 4.3 40-yard dash, and is listed at the top of the state's honor roll in the 200 with a 22.9 in the indoor season. He is also listed as second in the 55-dash with a 6.39.
While Freeman said he is sitting back for a while to see what other offers will come in, he plans on making his decision before his senior football season begins. And things look awfully good for the Badgers.
"I don't want there to be stress on my season, and I'm not seeing my decision as being too hard. I'm just going to relax and wait and see what else comes in, but I want to make my decision before next football season.
"You look at the Badgers, you look at the defensive back background, and it's nice when you look at it from an NFL standpoint. You have Troy Vincent, you have Jim Leonhard, he's going to go to the NFL probably, you have B.J. Tucker running a 4.2. I mean, that makes you feel good when you're looking for a school. You see all these guys going to the NFL from this team, and that's really encouraging."
Freeman hopes to follow in the footsteps of Tucker and Michael Bennett, who starred in two sports at Wisconsin after tearing it up as Milwaukee-area track/football stars.
"I've been looking at that because I've talked to B.J. Tucker and I've talked to Michael Bennett. Mike Bennett actually ran with my same club team, the Milwaukee Striders," Freeman said. "A lot of people tell me that it's hard (to play two sports) but those guys really didn't make it seem like it's that tough. I mean, college sports is going to be tough, but it's nothing I can't handle. I'm a competitor and I love it. So that's what Wisconsin is looking for."
Freeman has made a handful of trips to Madison, including the Minnesota and Illinois football games and several basketball games. He also will be attending this Saturday's practice at the McClain Center.
"I've been down there touring the facilities, seeing what they have to say," Freeman said. "I'm pretty comfortable there. I'm going to go down for practice, just to watch everything and get more acquainted with the players."
Freeman admits he is not a lifelong Badger fan, because he was never a huge fan of college sports growing up. But he rooted hard for the Badgers in the NCAA basketball tournament, and he's excited about the idea of playing in front of his hometown fans.
"I would like to stay around home. It's fun to have family members at the games, where they don't have to fly to the games. Every Saturday morning, they can come out and watch you," Freeman said. "That's always good. I wasn't a big cold (weather) fan, but it's not going to matter. I can get used to it."
Freeman Excited about Badgers
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