Engineering A Commitment

Before making a life-changing decision, most college recruits, and there coaches for that matter, want to check out their future campus before making a verbal commitment. Not South Plantation (Fla) HS cornerback Hugs Etienne, whose research on the academics and athletics at the University of Wisconsin made him so excited to announce his commitment on Facebook before even seeing the school.

MADISON - One of the rules Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema gives to recruits is that in order to commit to his recruiting class, that player has got to come on campus and see it for himself, unless it's a special circumstance.

Consider Hugs Etienne a special circumstance. A talented under-the-radar prospect, Etienne held offers from only Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic and Northern Illinois when co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge came along in early June and offered him a scholarship.

"He was the first BCS coach to come down and really show me a lot of love," Etienne said, a fitting moniker given his first name. "Coach Partridge really liked my ball skills and the way I play football."

The more Etienne researched Wisconsin, primarily the school's engineering program, the more the 5-foot-11, 175-pound cornerback from South Plantation (Fla.) HS loved what the Badgers had to offer. So with Kansas and West Virginia having offered in the past two weeks and local schools like Miami closing in, Partridge and the UW coaching staff were happy to accept Etienne's Wednesday afternoon phone call to say he wanted to commit to the 2012 recruiting class.

"It was great and feels great," said Etienne, who said West Virginia was his second favorite. "I feel really comfortable with my relationship with the coaches and with the amount of research I did on the campus. I really like the engineering program and after talking it over with my family, they said that if I really liked it, I should go ahead and make the decision. So, I did."

Etienne is the sixth verbal commit in Wisconsin's 2012 recruiting class and the first defensive back. Last season in his second year as a starter, he registered 30 tackles and three picks his junior season and combined that with a 3.6 grade point average off the field.

After competing in his school's spring football practices, Etienne was hoping to schedule unofficial visits to Bowling Green and Wisconsin, as well as camping at Florida State, before making his decision sometime late summer.

"It would have been nice to go out there on an unofficial visit before making my decision, but I just really enjoyed their educational programs they have" Etienne said. "Education comes first. I really like the coaches. Coach Bielema seems real cool and they seem down with me, which is why I didn't want to wait on making my decision.

"Coach Partridge not only became close with me, but with my older brother, who was helping me make this decision," Etienne added. "My brother really felt that Coach Partridge and Wisconsin were going to be a good fit for me, and I felt the same way."

Wisconsin is believed to take upwards of four defensive backs in the 2012 recruiting class and if history is any indication; those players might be coming from South Florida. Of the eight secondary players in the two-deep, three come from south Florida, another reason Etienne felt so comfortable committing to a school and a program he has yet to experience firsthand.

"It was great talking to the coaches about that and making it a great experience," Etienne said. "I'm ready to be a Badger, because I am done with my recruitment."

Etienne plans to visit Madison within the next three or four weeks.

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