Big Ten Interest in Small Town Wisconsin

Although he doesn't play high school football in a major conference or near a major city, the talent and abilities of Northland Pines (Wis) junior athlete Austin Ramesh can't be overlooked.

MADISON - Austin Ramesh isn't naïve to recognize he's in a special category.

Hailing from Eagle River, Wis., and just minutes away from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Ramesh isn't exactly coming from a hotbed in college recruiting – seeing as only two players have come from his area to play for Wisconsin since 1994 (Jeff Messenger and Jacob Pedersen).

"It's nice to be on their radar," Ramesh told Badger Nation, "especially since not a lot of coaches come up here."

Ramesh's play certainly has put him on the map. Earning first-team all-conference honors on both sides of the ball for Northland Pines HS, the 6-2, 225-pound Ramesh had over 2,500 yards of total offense and 22 overall touchdowns during his junior season, a season where he played running back, wide receiver, linebacker, special teams and both safety spots.

In his three years as a starter at the varsity level, he has scored 50 career touchdowns between offense, defense and special teams and is on pace to rush for 5,000 career yards. In February, Ramesh made his third visit to Wisconsin's campus for the school's junior day.

"It was really cool having the coaches come up to me and having them know me by my first name," said Ramesh, who went to two UW football games last fall. "It's cool to get my relationship formed with the new coaches and they were really hands on. It was all about the recruits. They were all about making us feel a part of the team and get accustomed to the way they run things."

Ramesh said he ‘already felt like part of the family' after talking to linebacker coach Andy Buh, running back coach Thomas Hammock and recruiting contact Ben Strickland. Ramesh also got an invite for him and his family to have a lengthy conversation with head coach Bret Bielema in his office.

"He made it obvious that he wants to offer me a scholarship, but he has to think about it a lot because they don't have many scholarships this year," said Ramesh, who is being recruited as an athlete. "He told me in a normal year, I'd have a scholarship from them by now. There's a lot of interest from them right now."

In addition to his offers from Illinois State, North Dakota and South Dakota State, Ramesh was planning on going to Michigan State's junior day last weekend, but his team's sectional hockey game conflicted with the date. Northland Pines lost to the defending state champions Wausau West, 6-1, ending Ramesh All-Conference season.

"It's disappointed, but now I can stay focused on football," Ramesh said.

Ramesh is visiting Iowa and Iowa State this weekend and has also been getting interest from Illinois. Even if those schools offer, Ramesh has his sights on earning a coveted UW offer.

Weighing the words he heard from Bielema, Ramesh knows what road he needs to take. Having attended the U.S. Army national underclass combine and the Under Armour national combine in January, Ramesh will use the next few months to prepare himself for Wisconsin's high school summer camp.

"I just have to get back to training as hard as I can," said Ramesh. "I just have to get bigger, faster and stronger as a football player. I feel really good from the interest they showed me that I can get a scholarship if I work as hard as I can. Basically, I want them to have to offer me and not have a choice."

Editor's Note: Shortly after the original posting of the story, Ramesh reported to Fox Sports that Iowa had offered him his first BCS scholarship.

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