A Personal Junior Day

Unable to attend Wisconsin's Saturday junior day because of his previous commitment to Nebraska, Milton (Wis.) defensive end A.J. Natter got his own junior day on Monday, an experience he called 'overwhelming' in a positive way.

MADISON - Perhaps it was to his good fortune that A.J. Natter couldn't make Wisconsin's official junior day on Saturday.

Instead of the unnatural atmosphere created by a hoard of junior athletes and their parents, Natter came up to the UW campus on a normal work day and got a feel what campus life is like Monday through Friday in a one-on-one setting.

"Being up there on a regular weekday, where the college atmosphere is how it normally is with all the students and crazy traffic, just having it be a regular thing was really impressive," Natter told Badger Nation. "I think that made the day special because it was such a unique experience and gave me more time to reflect on the experience."

Already committed to going to Nebraska's junior day over the weekend, Natter got one-on-one treatment Monday when he spent time at Wisconsin and didn't have to wait long to pick up his eighth scholarship offer.

"The main priority was to get me up to Coach Bielema's office right away," said Natter. "I talked to the coaches for about five minutes before Coach Bielema offered. We got to know each other a little better, even though we know each other pretty well. I think that was the main priority to get me up there and know that they have strong interest in me."

Being the only recruit on campus, Natter could best describe his day as ‘overwhelming.' After speaking at length to Bielema, Natter was able to meet the entire defensive line and watch them work out, meet with strength coach Ben Herbert, met with an academic advisor and go out to dinner with some of the coaches and his former teammate Nate Hammon.

The way Natter sees it, these were all things he wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to do if he had been part of the massive crowd on Saturday.

"It was a great opportunity to speak to all the coaches and was a good experience," said Natter. "The main thing was all the one-on-one time I got with Coach Bielema. I was able to sit down with him in his office for quite a while. It was very important to see how hard the team works out and what their workouts consist of. The opportunity was really unique and was an opportunity not a lot of kids are able to get. It's something I am real thankful for. I saw a lot of things I hadn't seen before."

The 6-6, 230-pound Natter finished around 80 tackles, eight sacks, five forced fumbles and two blocked kicks on special teams last season, good enough to earn him second team All-State honors as defensive end. He had been a reoccurring visitor for Wisconsin games – attending five of the seven over the course of last season – and camped with the Badgers last season, but saw communication taper off after the coaching change.

Although Boston College, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue and Western Michigan all came through with offers, Natter was told by Bielema that the reason Wisconsin waited so long to offer was so they could do it in person.

"He said that for in-state guys, he wants to meet the athletes face to face," said Natter. "That's a big thing for him and I think that's great. To be able to meet them face to face instead of offering off their film and getting a feeling for the player is just awesome. He focuses in on that instead of just throwing out offers left and right."

Although Natter has an in-state scholarship offer and an offer from a school just 30 minutes from his home, he maintains that the offer does not have an immediate impact on his recruitment.

"Right now, I don't have favorites," Natter said. "I want to make those trips out to spring practices and the spring games. I want to go see some games during the season. I am very thankful for the Wisconsin offer and I think it's another great opportunity that has been given to me. Like I've said before it's not who has offered me, it's about who wants me and what place I can make a difference.

"Wisconsin could be one of the teams, just like any other team that has offered so far. I think time will tell on all these visits that I take will be a big factor in the end."

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