No Birthday Surprise

With his top five schools already in place, Archbishop (Ohio) Alter quarterback Malik Zaire would have loved to make his decision final on his birthday. But with two more unofficial visits to go and needing to get to know the Wisconsin coaching staff better, Zaire's decision is on hold.

MADISON - In a perfect word, Malik Zaire would celebrate his 17th birthday today by committing to the college of his choice and go out to celebrate with his family and friends. He'll celebrate all right, but he'll after to settle for just turning another year older instead of figuring out his future.

"I am still very open to stuff and other schools that have interest in me," Zaire told Badger Nation. "I am just trying to take it day by day and take a closer look at the offers I have received. So, really, anything can happen."

Zaire – a 6-1, 190-pound quarterback from Archbishop (Ohio) Alter HS – has made some progress cutting down his double-digit scholarship list. While other schools are attempting to jump into his recruitment, like Arizona coming through with an offer this week, Zaire has a top five of Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin.

"I like those schools the most," said Zaire. "It's been stressful and it's been rewarding. Not everybody gets the same opportunity that I am, so I am very thankful for the process."

Wisconsin was Zaire's second scholarship offer, as the Badgers had seen flashes of the quarterback on previous recruiting trips to Kettering, Ohio, as Archbishop Alter has given UW such players as Chris Borland, Cody Byers and Connor Cummins.

Zaire impressed the coaches during a one-day high school camp last summer and Wisconsin eventually offered in early October after Zaire visited the Badgers unofficially for the Nebraska game.

"That's when they really started talking to me; after working out and touring the campus," said Zaire. "I think that opened their eyes up to me."

Unfortunately, Zaire's relationship with the Wisconsin coaching staff was somewhat short lived. Developing a really good bond with offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and recruiting contact Joe Rudolph, Zaire admitted that it was tough seeing those coaches leave.

"That affected a lot of what I felt toward Wisconsin because I felt so highly toward Coach Chryst and Coach Rudolph," said Zaire. "With those coaches there, it was a perfect fit for me at the time. When they left, it affected me a little bit because it just seemed different. It burned me a little bit."

Zaire still has Wisconsin in his top five because of the relationship he has with Coach Bret Bielema, and he has been slowly building his relationship with UW's new staff, especially with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada and new wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni.

"Every coaching staff is going to have to a unique feel to them with how they coach," said Zaire. "(Wisconsin)'s coaches are a little different now, so it's going to take a little more time."

In addition to Wisconsin, Zaire has already visited Ohio State and Pittsburgh and has a tentative trip to Nebraska scheduled in mid-March and a planned trip to Notre Dame for the school's junior day on March 24. If Zaire gets those two visits done, his decision probably wouldn't be too far behind.

"It really depends on how my visits go," Zaire said. "If I make all the visits I am planning on making in March, then my decision will come at the end of March or early April. If I don't get to all the places I want to go, I won't rush to get something done."

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