Despite going without a first round NFL draft pick for the first time since 2000, Wisconsin saw five players get drafted to NFL teams, second most in the Big Ten behind the six players of Ohio State. Two of those players – Dezmen Southward and James White – were recruited out of Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas.
Even though he wasn't holding a Wisconsin offer at the time, junior linebacker Chris Hart certainly took noticed.
"Playing for a school that puts people in the NFL is a big part (of the process) for me," said Hart. "I want to get that chance."
The 6-3, 225-pound Hart admitted he was surprised by the Monday offer from the Badgers, who visited his school and extended a scholarship before the team's practice.
"It just shows that last year I really did a good job and I did what I was supposed to do and I did it well," said Hart.
On a team always full of Division 1 talent, Hart was the team leader in tackles (79) and tackles for loss and was second in sacks (8.5) for a Raiders team that advanced to the third round of the state playoffs. While they weren't linebackers, Hart attributes a lot of his success to learning from seniors Madre London (Michigan State commit), Corey Holmes (Notre Dame commit), Anthony Moten (Miami) and a host of others.
"They gave me a ton of information," said Hart. "They were leading into the recruiting process, telling me about the coaches and how the schools really are. I remember last spring when I didn't have any offers coming into spring ball. It's just a blessing to have 14 offers right now."
In addition to Wisconsin, Hart has BCS offers Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, Purdue and South Florida. After spring practices, Hart plans to take visits to multiple campuses with his teammates, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Kentucky and Wisconsin.