New Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst has continued to rebuild the fence around the state and secured one of the area’s more prolific playmakers in Waunakee senior running back Troy Laufenberg. Receiving a preferred walk-on offer from assistant coach Ben Strickland, Laufenberg quickly knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for his home state.
“(My high school) Coach Pat Rice called me up to the weight room and he told me that he wanted me to call Coach Strickland,” Laufenberg told BadgerNation. “I gave him a call and he extended it. I went home and talked to my parents and accepted it. I didn’t see it coming. I mean we talked about it, but last night I would have not seen myself committing and being a Badger. I was ecstatic when they offered it to me and it was just a dream come true type of thing. I have always wanted to be a Badger and it is just good to be a part of that tradition.”
The 5-11, 185-pound received scholarship offers from Division 2 Minnesota Duluth and Concordia St. Paul along with interest from several other suitors like Illinois State, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Northern Illinois and Western Illinois, but keep the faith he could end up playing in Madison.
After his monster season of rushing for 2,242 yards and scoring 25 touchdowns on 360 carries (6.2 yards per attempt, 172.5 per game), including 296 passing yards and five passing touchdowns, the Badgers took notice.
“I always believed Wisconsin was a possibility,” said Laufenberg. “I didn’t want to mark them out and that was my goal. Once I went to their camp, starting getting more mail and I got a couple game invites, that is when I thought I could really be in consideration. When Coach Chryst became head coach, I know my coach in Pat Rice are him are really good friends, so I got a little more faith like this could happen. Before I knew it, it was happening.”
Strickland projects Laufenberg to begin his career at running back, but that could change if needed.
“He said I would probably start out as a running back, but I might be quoted as an athlete, so if I don’t fit there, then I will move,” said Laufenberg. “I will move wherever I fit best.”
Laufenberg is the fifth known in-state walk-on in Wisconsin’s 2015 recruiting class.
“I am very excited to be a Badger,” said Laufenberg. “Growing up 20 minutes away and watching the Badgers and being a Badger fan in general, just being able to be a part of it is something else. It hasn’t even hit me yet, but there is not a better feeling in the world and is a dream come true.”