The first commit of Wisconsin’s 2015 recruiting class has decided to continue honoring that pledge in the wake of the head coaching change.
Sandy (UT) Jordan quarterback Austin Kafentzis announced on Milwaukee radio station 105.7FM The Fan that he is sticking with the verbal commitment he made to the Badgers in June 2013.
“I am 100 percent sure I want to stick with the Badgers,” said Kafentzis. “I am going to work my tail off, study the playbook, do whatever I need to do, go in there with the work ethic, show up on campus, get to know the coaches more and listen to everything they have to say.”
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound prospect is a three-star prospect and ranked the No.54 quarterback in the county by Scout.com, but Kafentzis’ numbers on the football field outshine his ranking.
As a senior, Kafentzis threw for 3,862 yards and 40 touchdowns with an additional 1,842 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. A four-year starter for the Beetdiggers, Kafentzis played 52 games as the quarterback, won a Class 5A state championship and set or tied 13 records in his career.
He also become one of the nation's all-time leaders in total offense and touchdowns responsible for. His career total offense total of 20,021 yards ranks second all-time behind Maty Mauk of Kenton (Ohio) who had 22,681 yards from 2008-11. Kafentzis' 218 career touchdowns accounted for rank third behind Mauk, who had 278, and Will Grier of Davidson Day (Davidson, N.C.), who had 226.
Kafentzis also became the first player in national history to become the state's all-time leader in both passing and rushing yardage.
Originally planning on committing his junior year, Kafentzis became swayed by Wisconsin during an unofficial visit that he said caused him to fall in love with the campus and the coaches.
“Everything about the campus and the business school, that’s what I want to go into, I just kind of fell in love with,” said Kafentzis, who had offers from BYU, Hawaii, Utah and Utah State at the time he committed. “I just wanted to commit early because I didn’t want to worry about it my senior year, and I could just go out and play football and not worry about where I’m going to go.”
Following the departure of Gary Andersen to Oregon State on Dec.10, Kafentzis received interest from many suitors and reportedly took a visit to Corvallis Dec.12; a trip generated by the quarterback’s strong connection with Andersen and the way the former UW coach utilized dual-threat quarterback Chuckie Keeton at Utah State. He also was a big fan of how offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig worked with his quarterbacks.
Like many of his future teammates, Kafentzis was caught off guard by the departure of Andersen, saying he found out through social media. A close-knit group, the signing class – currently ranked in the top 20 by Scout.com – shared opinions with each other through group text messages and various social networking sites.
“We’ve been talking throughout the process,” said Kafentzis. “We’ve got kids from all over the nation, and it’s a really good recruiting class. We want to keep everyone together. We just had to figure out who the coaches were, and we had to talk to them.”
New head coach Paul Chryst couldn’t officially start talking to recruits until he was hired Dec.17 and placed one of his first calls to the quarterback. Having two conversations with Chryst, including an in-depth conversation Monday while Kafentzis was still sifting through the details of his future school, Kafentzis felt comfortable with his new coach.
”I had to ask him a couple questions, and I didn’t want him to feel like I was inherited to him; I wanted him like he wanted me and wanted me to play quarterback,” said Kafentzis, who watched highlights of Russell Wilson’s senior year at Wisconsin to get an idea of Chryst’s pro-style offense.
“I am a pocket passer. I can play in almost any offense. I feel like I can. I am not just going to scramble around and run the ball. I am going to go through my progressions, read the defense … I just need the study the playbook. That’s the biggest thing and be mentally prepared. Hard work will take care of all that.”
Kafentzis is scheduled to enroll on January 12 to take part in spring practices.
“Nobody is handed a position; you’ve got to go in there and compete,” said Kafentzis. “Nobody is handed anything. I truly believe that I am a QB and I truly believe I can play QB.”