Big Ten Options for VandeBerg

Recording 67 catches for 1,081 and 15 touchdowns as a junior for Brandon Valley (SD) High, receiver Matthew VandeBerg has performed well enough at two Big Ten schools to earn a college opportunity.

MADISON - South Dakota isn't quite a foreign territory for Wisconsin, as the Badgers recruited kicker Taylor Mehlhaff out of Aberdeen in 2004. It turned out to be a good find, as Mehlhafff left with a school record in career extra points (145) and tied for second in career field goals with 50.

The Badgers are hopeful they found another gem in Brandon Valley (SD) wide receiver Matthew VandeBerg and can convince him to come to Madison.

Like most high school recruits across the country trying to get noticed, VandeBerg – 6-1, 170 pounds - logged plenty of miles trekking from one college high school summer camp to the next. So far, the adventure has paid off, especially on his trip to Wisconsin.

Camping at Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, North Dakota State and Wisconsin, VandeBerg initially sent his highlight tape to Wisconsin to be evaluated, and received an invite to attend one of UW's camps.

Visiting Wisconsin for the first time at the middle of June for the Badgers' three-day high school summer camp, VandeBerg went from having little dialogue with the staff to making a sound impression on wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni.

"I love their coaches," VandeBerg told Badger Nation. "I had a great time for coach Azzanni. You have to work hard for him, and you want to work hard for the coach that is going to be coaching you. He's a guy that will boost your self confidence because he brings so much energy to the table. You have no choice but to except it and try to equal from energy."

Impressed with the stadium and the facilities, VandeBerg was rewarded for his three-day performance with a preferred walk-on offer and an opportunity for something more.

"It was awesome," said Vandeberg. "The way (Coach Bret Bielema) put it to me was that Wisconsin only had 10 scholarships to offer as opposed to 20 scholarships they normally have. He said he's already offered his scholarships but if they had an extra offer, I would have it by now. He said if anybody backs out, more than likely I'd get a full offer."

Wisconsin isn't alone in recruiting for VandeBerg's services, as recently picked up his first scholarship offer from Iowa, which offered him a grayshirt opportunity a couple weeks following his one-day camp performance in Iowa City.

"It definitely meant a lot," VandeBerg said of the offer. "I've always liked Iowa. My cousin was a big Iowa fan. I've started going to their camps since my sophomore year. That's when they noticed me and started recruiting me."

Running a 4.49 forty, 3.97 pro agility and recording over a nine-foot broad jump at Minnesota's camp, VandeBerg recorded 67 catches for 1,081 and 15 touchdowns on offense and had 53 tackles and nine interceptions on defense. Wisconsin is recruiting him as a receiver while Iowa is recruiting him as an athlete.

While VandeBerg is comfortable with his knowledge of the playbook, the big goal for him is to start adding weight before stepping on to a college campus.

"I am one of the smaller guys out on the field, so I am trying to put on about 10-15 pounds before football starts," said VandeBerg. "I know it's kind of hard with a month and a half before football starts, but I know if I get bigger that everything else will fall into place."

While Iowa appears to be the front runner, a preferred walk-on offer from the two-time Big Ten champions has given VandeBerg something to think about as he debates his final decision, which he says will come later in the fall.

"Wisconsin is definitely somewhere I will definitely consider," VandeBerg said. "I have to look over my financials with my parents, but it's something I am definitely taking seriously. I want to see what options I have available and research those options."

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