Hammon Joins the Badgers ... Almost

Calling the last 72 hours a whirlwind for Milton athlete Nate Hammon is an understatement. Prepared to play college football at FCS Illinois State, Hammon meets a Division 1 head coach, gets a full-ride scholarship to his favorite team growing up and still patiently waits to find out what his role, and offer, is going to be.

MILTON, Wis. - As he talked glowingly about his 28 member 2011 recruiting class Wednesday afternoon, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema made it clear that he's still waiting on a decision from two recruits.

One is nationally known quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a four-star recruit out of Dwyer High School in West Palm Beach, Fla., who is expected to choose between UW and Miami (Fla.) Friday. The other big-time recruit … Nate Hammon?

"Everybody around town is kind of shocked, too," said Hammon of his Tuesday commitment to Wisconsin. "I dreamed it as a kid that I would maybe play for the Badgers but when they didn't recruit me at all, I really didn't think it was a possibility." Hype or no hype, the multidimensional athlete from Milton fits the billing of a University of Wisconsin athlete: versatile, hard-working and growing up loving the Badgers. Maybe that's why the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hammon still had a big smile on his face during the school's signing ceremony Thursday, even though his paperwork is still delayed because of Tuesday's snowstorm.

"The paperwork is stuck in Oak Creek, so I don't mind waiting," Hammon said with a nervous laugh. "I just want to sign."

Hammon did try his luck early to get noticed by Wisconsin. He sent the coaching staff his junior highlights, went to UW's Junior Day and went to one of the program's high school camps, saying he tested out well. Problem for Hammon was that he wanted to play quarterback and wasn't willing to look at another position.

"I thought I was a quarterback because I was a quarterback in high school," Hammon said. "I think that's what pushed (UW) off a little bit."

Hammon eventually committed to Illinois State, a Football Championship Subdivision school, in early November, but said the decision to possibly change positions hit him soon after that.

"I thought that I might have a better chance at playing safety, wide receiver, some other skill position other than quarterback," Hammon said. "Wisconsin runs a pro-style offense, and I really don't fit into that."

After the Badgers lost two juniors (J.J. Watt and John Clay) to the NFL Draft, creating more scholarship space, Hammon got the call of a lifetime Tuesday from Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, getting a scholarship offer from his home-state school after the Badgers did some late research on him.

"I actually thought that I was going to get an offer from Northern Illinois, but they had a coaching change and it really didn't work out," Hammon said. "I really didn't know what to think talking to Coach Bielema. That was the first time I had ever talked to him."

As a result, it took Hammon roughly seven hours to de-commit and switch his pledge.

"Coach Bielema said he wanted to bring another athlete to the team," said Hammon, who also had an offer from South Dakota State. "They are 30 minutes away compared to three hours away from my house, and that's a big difference. Everybody knows a lot about (UW) and I have a great support system up here. It's a different kind of football, and I want to get challenged like that.

"I had to do what's best for me and I felt like Wisconsin was a better opportunity to play at a bigger level and get a degree from one of the best universities in the nation."

Hammon accounted for 35 touchdowns as a senior for the Red Hawks, as he completed 161-of-244 passes for 2,100 yards and 19 scores, rushed for 703 yards and 16 TDs and had a 36.1-yard average on 30 punts.

"I hope I can come in and be an impact somehow," Hammon said. "Not right away, but I hope to see the field sometime in my career. Coach Bielema mentioned wide receiver, tight end or safety, but that I can come in and see where I fit best before making my decision."

Hammon, a two-time first-team All-Southern Badger Conference pick and an honorable mention All-State pick by both the Associated Press and Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, helped Milton advance to the second round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs before losing to eventual champion Waunakee.

While Hammon is committed, his offer is still to be determined. According to Hammon, is Brissett commits to UW, he will take a grayshirt offer and enroll in January 2012 while Brissett plays in the fall. Is Brissett does not pick Wisconsin, Hammon will be on full scholarship right away and enroll in June.

"I actually like the idea of a grayshirt to grow and develop and to settle in to the college life," Hammon said. "I am fine with it either way." So like the rest of Badger Nation, Hammon waits for Brissett. The only difference is that he wins no matter what the other late signee decides.

"I was awe struck," Hammon said. "It still hasn't sunk in that I am going to be a Badger and something that has to be in my mind over time that I am not going to Illinois State, because I had been thinking I was going there for so long, and that I am going to be playing for the Badgers. It was a dream come true."

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