It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Following up his junior day visit to Wisconsin, Pankey – a 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive tackle from Hamilton, Ohio – was able to command his opponents despite his lack of equipment during UW's one day camp, opening the eyes of the coaching staff in the process.
"Once I was in there, I was doing good holding my own against kids with shoulder kids, which I think showed the coaches that I am tough and I stick with it," Pankey told Badger Nation. "They had me come in earlier than the other one-day camp kids and camp with the three-day kids. I had an extra four hours that I did without the one-day campers, just so they could evaluate me more because they really wanted to take a good look. The coaches said they really liked what they saw."
Since the camp, dialogue from the Badgers has picked up, although an offer still hasn't been extended. Being recruited by UW tight end coach Joe Rudolph, Pankey said the coach commented how physical he was without pads, and that the coaching staff was very interested.
"Coach Rudolph and I are really close right now recruiting wise," Pankey said. "I give him a call almost every week and we talk about what's going on with me and in Madison. He really likes me a lot and got coach (Bret) Bielema liking me a lot. I've talked to coach (Bob) Bostad a couple times and he's a little harder to read to me. I think he likes me to because coach Rudolph said he talks about me a lot, but he's just harder to read. I like how he coaches."
Another school that could be close to offer Pankey is Ohio State, who Pankey camped at before Wisconsin. Pankey said the coaching staff in Columbus was originally going to wait until after their last high school camp before extending new offers, but now appear to be waiting to see what the punishments will be from the NCAA Infractions Committee, a decision that could yield a significant loss of scholarships.
"Things are weird there right now and recruiting isn't as up to par compared to everybody else that has been talking to me," Pankey said. "They're having trouble but when I do talk to them, I get a lot of positive feedback. When I went to their camp, I had one of the best camps that I've had. I am not sure of how many offers they are going to do yet because they don't know what's going to happen. I do know that I am near the top of their list."
Pankey has received offers from Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Akron, Bowling Green, Marshall, Miami (OH), Ohio and Toledo. Pankey hasn't gotten any new offers over the past two weeks due to being on a vacation in the south, an opportunity to get away from recruiting.
Pankey boasts no favorites, although he said he's had a good experience on his visit to Illinois and has a good feel from the Illini, and plans to take his time with his decision, mainly to see what happens with Wisconsin and Ohio State.
"(Wisconsin) said that depending on what else happens, I could get an offer anytime between now and during my football season," Pankey said. "They want me to take an official visit, catch a game, get a feel for what a game is like and I am probably going to go for sure."