On Wisconsin! Pickard Opts For Defense In B1G

Wisconsin added a defensive end when Millburn (N.J.) High's Jake Pickard announced he committed to the Badgers, and Scout.com has his thoughts on it.

When Millburn (N.J.) High defensive end Jake Pickard headed to Wisconsin for an unofficial visit a few days ago, he already sensed he would like the program a lot.

Once there, though, had got the feeling many recruits do when it comes time to make a decision.

Rather than make a rash decision, he spoke about it with his family and coach to go over all the pros and cons, and it led him to the same place …Madison, Wisc.

Moments ago the 6-foot-6, 234-pound Pickard ended his recruitment by choosing the Badgers over Virginia, Syracuse and Nebraska. Schools were looking at Pickard on both sides of the ball, but he will be heading to Wisconsin to play defensive end.

“That’s where I feel most at home,” Pickard said. “I love tight end and I love offense, but defense is what wins games. Defense is blamed for losing game and offense gets (praised) for winning games, but anybody who plays football knows that defense is where you win games.

“I love sacking the quarterback. I love making big hits. I love being part of a defense.“

Pickard played offensive tackle (out of necessity for his team) and defensive end as a junior, and he put up nice statistics while moving around on the defensive line. He finished with 70 tackles, including 2 ½ sacks.

During his trip to Wisconsin, he said he bonded well with everyone in the program, from coaches to players, and that solidified his decision.

“I got to stay with players, got to really see Madison,” he said. “I got to see the town, got to see the campus, and I literally just fell in love with it. I kind of got that gut feeling when one place is home. I knew that, and then getting to meet with more coaches and see them out of the football element, and meeting more players and hanging out with players all night.

“We went out to lunch right there on the lake, so that was awesome. We all talked about everything, and not even football so much. We talked to (defensive line) coach Chad (Kauha’aha’a) about his roots back in Hawaii, and how football is different there. We really just got a chance to know each other, and that really sealed the deal.”

In fact, it was everything Pickard experienced on the trip that led to his decision.

“When it came down to it, the campus was beautiful, and it’s just an honor to be part of a program like Wisconsin,” he said. “They have a history of being so great. I’ve developed a good relationship with (his recruiter), coach (Thomas) Brown over the past couple of months when he started recruiting me.

“I was already in love with the town and the program, and then when I realized these were the guys who were going to be taking care of me the next four or five years of my life, and how comfortable I feel around them and how comfortable I feel in the program and in the building and with the players, I just knew that it was home.”

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