"It was a really tough decision and I weighed a lot of factors over a period of several months," Voltz said. "In the end, it came down to a few key things."
Each step along the way, from narrowing his over 19 offers down to eight down to one, the University of Wisconsin passed the test.
Voltz, a four-star offensive guard recruited by co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, became the first verbal commitment in Wisconsin's 2012 recruiting class when he committed to UW Coach Bret Bielema on Saturday and announced it officially on Tuesday night.
"I am going to be a Badger next fall," Voltz said. "I look at a lot of schools and Wisconsin was the best possible fit for me in my situation."
The first criterion that a school had to meet for Voltz was developing players. With Offensive Line Coach Bob Bostad having just coached two All-Americans, including an Outland Trophy winner, Voltz knew he was heading in the right direction.
"In all the research I did, they weren't only the best developer of offensive linemen, but football players and young men in general," Voltz said. "I believe they have the best coaching staff to develop players that I found and I wanted to be a part of."
The second and third step was having a solid atmosphere and school surroundings that is close to home. Over the course of his recruitment, Voltz made over a half dozen visits to the Wisconsin campus, located just two hours from his house, including going to a mini junior day on March 5 and taking an unofficial visit for the Badgers win over No.1 Ohio State last October.
"From the campus to the student section during a home game, everything that goes on in Madison, the atmosphere is something special and somewhere where I wanted to live," Voltz said. "The campus, from the first time I stepped foot on it, I could tell that it was a special place. It's a city-like campus. You've got your tall buildings, your city atmosphere, so you have the best of both words where you've got the outdoor-type campus and the city-type campus. Whatever you like to do, you've got it all there in Madison."
So even with offers from Midwest powers and the defending the national champion, Voltz picked Wisconsin over Alabama, Auburn, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame and a host of others.
"I've been in this recruiting process since last year," Voltz said. "It's a long, tiring process. A lot of fun, but it takes its toll, too. I felt ready to make my decision and it feels great to make that decision and the lifetime commitment.
"Obviously when a school like Alabama decides to offer you or think that highly of you, it feels great. It's something I really looked into and I really thought, "Could I see myself playing there?" It was tough to say no to that but in the end, I am a Midwest guy and I wanted to stay close to home. That's why I chose Wisconsin over those schools, even though they are great schools and great football programs. It's just not really the best fit for me."
Voltz is the first player from outside the state of Wisconsin to be the first verbal in a Badgers recruiting class since Illinois' Jamil Walker in March 2003. He is also the first four-star out-of-state recruit to commit to Wisconsin since East St. Louis wide receiver Kraig Appleton two signing days ago.
"He was totally thrilled," Voltz said of his conversation with Bielema. "It was obviously an early commitment, so it caught them a little bit by surprise. Like they said, it's going to start off the recruiting class good."
Voltz said he was heavily considering enrolling early to participate in spring football as a freshman to get that early edge and compete for playing time, especially since right guard Kevin Zeitler would have just graduated. Voltz also said he is perhaps majoring in kinesiology at Madison.
More importantly, Voltz said he is going to start talking to other top Illinois athletes to try and talk them into making Wisconsin's 2012 recruiting class something truly special.
"I am going to start contacting not just Jordan (Diamond), but a lot of other top recruits to see what they think about Wisconsin," said Voltz, who is also friends with rising three-star defensive end Faith Ekakitie. "In the end, it's going to be there decision, but I am going to try to put together a great recruiting class for Wisconsin."