But with the rainy, cool weather mimicking his home state and a football program that rolled out the red carpet for him, Wisconsin football felt right at home for Tacoma (Wash) Baptist offensive lineman Walker Williams last weekend.
"I really enjoyed the visit," Williams told Badger Nation. "Coach Rudolph got me a really good itinerary for Friday. We started at 9:30 in the morning and ended at six, so I got to see a lot of campus and talk to a lot of different people so I could get a good vibe."
The recruiting process between Wisconsin and Williams, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound three-star tackle ranked No.65 in the country by Scout com, isn't a long story. Using some of their contacts in the Pacific Northwest, Wisconsin contacted Williams, who in turn sent the coaching staff his highlight video and workout tape. The result was Wisconsin asking Williams to call them and promptly offered him a scholarship.
"That was the first time I had talked to them, so the recruiting process leading up to the offer didn't take that much time," Williams said. "Wisconsin really didn't know about me until a few months ago."
Understandably, Williams did not know much about Wisconsin, let alone much about the Midwest, as the furthest east he'd traveled was to Boise State for football. What Williams saw in Madison was a huge contrast in the college football he has been used to watching, a contrast that he says makes him fit right in.
"In the Pac 10, they seem to really like the spread offense and it's more the type of football at the Division 1 level," Williams said. "Midwest football is a little different, though it's still football, but I like Wisconsin's philosophy with the way they just play the game. They play straight forward, which is the way we play at my high school. I appreciate that."
Standing on the field before the game, Williams was able to talk to senior right tackle Josh Oglesby as the offensive line went through their pregame warm-ups. Williams also got to listen to junior Peter Konz and sophomore Travis Frederick talk about what the UW program meant to them and about the offensive line tradition.
"If I go to Wisconsin, it's definitely going to make me better going up against big offensive lineman every day in practice," Williams said. "The way that they play football, the grinding style, they need big physical lineman and they've been able to recruit to that the last couple of years I am honored to be in that group and that my hard work is paying off that a big school like Wisconsin would offer me a scholarship so quickly."
"It was nice to find out how they think," Williams said of his meeting with the coaching staff. "They were all upbeat and excited that I came from Washington just to see their campus. They were really happy that I was interested enough to fly out. I didn't get many different opinions whether I was talking to coaches or players. All the offensive linemen made me feel real welcomed. Sometimes you go to a program and it feels fake, but Wisconsin felt very genuine, and I loved the atmosphere around the program in general."
Other than Wisconsin, UCLA and Oregon State are the only two schools that have offered Williams, but Stanford, Washington and Washington State have picked up their interest over the last several weeks. Williams will visit Oregon State this weekend for the Beavers spring game and plans to go to the Nike Combine in Oregon this summer.
"I am going to base my camps on my interest in them and their interest in me," Williams said. "I don't know when I am going to be making a verbal commitment of any kind. I am just going to wait until I feel comfortable making a decision, knowing that I can spend the next five years of my life at that school."