Finishing his senior season with 2,635 passing yards and 22 touchdowns in 10 games, earning WFCA First Team All-State honors, Whitnall (Wis.) High senior Joel Stave turned down a scholarship offer from Western Michigan and accepted a preferred walk-on opportunity at the University of Wisconsin.
"It was a pretty tough decision but my heart has always been on Wisconsin and where I have wanted to go," Stave told Badger Nation Monday. "I figured I have the opportunity in front of me, so I should take advantage of it."
Even better for Wisconsin is that Stave will enroll early, as he will move in the second weekend of January, go through orientation and participate in winter conditioning drills when classes start second semester.
"I am not doing a whole lot in high school anyway," said Stave, who is only taking a couple classes. "I think it's good for me, not only for a football standpoint of learning the playbook and getting stronger, I learn how the college aspect works by taking classes, getting from place to place and balancing the schedule."
With limited scholarship numbers and losing senior Scott Tolzien after the season, the Badgers only targeted a few throwers to fill one scholarship spot in the 2011 recruiting class. For the last several months, that player has been Brissett, who has taken his time with his recruitment as his team competed in the Florida State Playoffs.
With the Badgers still over their scholarship allotment, Stave's walk-on decision was met with obvious positive reaction by the coaching staff.
"I made everything official this morning after really thinking about it and they were really excited about it," Stave said. "I was really excited, too, getting this process over with, and just kind of move on with everything."
Stave is the fourth known preferred walk-on in Wisconsin's 2011 recruiting class, joining Franklin athlete Lance Baretz, Pius XI offensive tackle Jonathan Coon and Hartland Arrowhead punter Drew Meyer.
"I know Lance pretty well and I know Jonathan," Stave said. "Lance is a very talented quarterback, which he showed throughout high school, but he's a different type of quarterback and has the athleticism to play different positions. Coon has got the Wisconsin Badger offensive lineman height. The coaches can probably turn him into a very good offensive lineman. When we played them, they ran all over us, so obviously he's doing something right."
With only sophomore-to-be quarterback Jon Budmayr and redshirt freshman Joe Brennan the only two healthy quarterbacks expected to compete for playing time next season in spring camp, Stave is looking forward to the repetitions, and showing the coaching staff why he's a good fit for his home-town offense.
"I think I am a good pocket passer," Stave said. "I am tall, so I can see the field well, and I feel I have a strong enough arm to make a solid throw. With the running game and the offensive line that they have year in and year out, that only helps the passing game. I think I can make it a very balanced offense with my ability to throw."