Eyes on the Prize

With two defensive tackles already in the mix for 2014, where does Mequon (Wis.) Homestead defensive tackle Brandon Hines fit into the equation? With his team two wins away from a state title, Hines has put his team before his recruitment.

MADISON - The 2014 class is off to a fast and furious start with securing five highly touted prospects early in the recruiting period. The Wisconsin coaching staff is not letting its foot off the gas and has been hitting the in-state recruiting trail hard.

Mequon Homestead High junior defensive tackle Brandon Hines has been on the Badgers' radar since the spring and many can see why with the strong junior season he is displayed, leading his team within one game of the Division 2 state championship game.

"We have a really good group of players this year, so the ultimate goal is to come home with a gold ball the next two years," Hines told Badger Nation. "I've done well. I'm over 50 tackles and have about four sacks (and) I missed a couple games during our conference play and sprained my ankle last week.

"Unfortunately, I get double teamed 80 percent of the time and the other 20 percent it's a toss to the other side of the field. Definitely I have improved. I played more like a true defensive tackle this season. I stopped trying to play every play like a pass rush and played lower, containing my gap and not giving any yards up the middle. I also pursue a lot harder this year, which allows me to make tackles across the field."

While the 6-2, 265-pound Hines has been surrounding quarterbacks and running backs with his new method to his game, many colleges have done the same by courting him early in his recruitment. However, his recruiting process is on hold as Homestead aims for its first state title since 2008 in Division1.

"I'm still getting consistent mail from my recruiting coaches at several of the Big Ten schools, but I haven't taken any visits since our third game of the season or even talked to any reporters," said Hines. "I really want to focus on my team as we are in a great position to make our mark in state history. I don't want to be distracted and missing practices to go on visits. I will go to a lot of junior days to make up for missed game day visits, but as my coaches have said; do everything to help the team get to a state championship and everything else will fall into place."

Hines currently holds no offers, but his drive and effort hasn't stopped and neither has the communication from the schools recruiting him.

"Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska and Minnesota are the most consistent schools that have been talking to me," he said. "They all want me to take a visit and see me in person, but I haven't really been trying to contact schools as of now. Wisconsin sends me mail, but nothing too serious as of now."

"Our school mocks a lot of Wisconsin's techniques and it's successful for us, so I don't see why it wouldn't be at the next level."

Hines admitted that the Badgers have been active recruiting in-state defensive tackles, especially for the Class of 2014. Fifteen months from its national signing day, Milwaukee Marquette Conor Sheehy and Sun Prairie Craig Evans have already given Wisconsin their verbal commitments.

"I will probably talk to them after the season to see where I stand," Hines said."Conor and I played for the same program in middle school and trained together this past off season. I also know Craig and Jaden Gault from visits last year and Chikwe Obasih and Alec James from visits. We stay in touch and I always hear about the in-state factor and how great Wisconsin is but that aside, nothing from a pressure standpoint."

Although living and playing in the thick of Big Ten country, Hines is open to playing on the West Coast, and will look to possibly head that way over the spring and summer.

"I've always been a big fan of the Pac 12 and attracted to the West Coast," said Hines. "I know what my future endeavors are and that area would present itself to be the most beneficial. A degree from a few of those schools out there yields higher success than others, as well."

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