First meeting co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge when he came to visit the school and knowing the Badgers have former Raiders players Conor O'Neill, Dezmen Southward and James White on their team, linebacker Tyler Drake became intrigued with what the school had to offer.
"I certainly had interest in them and I had the opportunity with my dad to go up there and check it out," said Drake, who came up to Wisconsin Feb.19 for a smaller junior day with Wisconsin Rapids linebacker Vince Biegel and Blue Earth (Minn.) lineman Jonah Pirsig. "They set up a tour of everything for us, and I was very impressed by the campus and the way everything was set up. The buildings and the facilities were great."
With the smaller gathering compared to last weekend, Drake was able to spend plenty of time and getting a lot of feedback from Partridge and Head Coach Bret Bielema.
"They like kids from St. Thomas because they know the coaches personally and that they are going to get players they know will succeed in their program," Drake said. "What they are looking for is hard-working, dedicated kids to come to their program."
Drake led Aquinas last season with 8.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss as the Raiders went 15-0, won the Florida 5A state championship and won the school's second high school national championship. Drake, who plays as an outside linebacker in Aquinas' 3-4 defense, projects as an outside linebacker in college.
With Wisconsin expected to take two linebackers in the 2012 recruiting class, Drake is hoping that his team's spring practices will give the Wisconsin coaching staff a positive impression going forward.
"They told me to keep working hard and I know that I have to keep getting bigger, put on some weight and hopefully grow a little more," Drake said. "I have to be able to read plays and react. Coach Bielema told me that the spring practices will be there final evaluation of me and offer me based on how I do in spring.
"Obviously, I want to be able to perform well and do my best, but (the UW coaches) being there will be in the back of my mind because I want an offer from Wisconsin."