One of the many in-state prospects targeted by the new Badgers coaching staff, Wausau West senior Jake Whalen committed to the Badgers Saturday night following his official visit.
“I committed last night after talking to my parents,” Whalen told BadgerNation. “I really felt like that was the best place for me and could see myself playing for the next couple of years.”
Whalen is the 21st commit in Wisconsin’s 2015 recruiting class, and the fifth from in-state, after picking the Badgers over offers from Air Force, Army, Buffalo, Iowa, South Dakota State and Southern Illinois.
During his recruitment, Chryst let him know how much of a priority the 6-2, 220-pound Whalen was to Wisconsin’s program, but was up front at the beginning that scholarship spots were pretty tight. Since the string of the de-commitments opened up roster spots, Wisconsin was able up boost Whalen’s greyshirt offer to a full ride at the beginning of his official visit.
“Coach Chryst couldn’t promise me anything before because they had 26 commitments, but so now that a bunch of guys de-commit, they said they finally had room and wanted me all long,” Whalen said. “They had to give me the worst case scenario, so they gave me the greyshirt. I went into his office after breakfast during my visit, he told me that they have room now and they want to extend a full scholarship offer. The program is built around guys like me and they want me on the team.”
Coming into this weekend weighing the pros and cons between a full offer to play linebacker from Iowa (where he visited last weekend) and the greyshit offer from official visit to Wisconsin, having the full offer from the in-state school made it an easy decision.
“A lot of it was just comfort,” said Whalen. “There is no other town in America like Madison. That is how I feel, so really that is where I felt most comfortable and can see myself spending four-to-five years of my career playing there. If something would happen in football, because injuries happen all the time, I could still see myself having fun and going to school there and finishing up my college career. I felt comfortable with the new staff and I really like them a lot. They can take my play to the next level and they know where my strengths and weaknesses are, so they can help build my play too.”Ranked a three-star prospect, Whalen is currently ranked the No.23 middle linebacker in the nation. Wisconsin will start him as a fullback but will re-evaluate him once he gets to campus, especially since the Badgers saw Miami Gulliver Prep outside linebacker Dominic Sheppard de-commit earlier in the day.
“What Coach Chryst said is that they have me down as fullback/linebacker, but they said when I come in the summer, then I will do my summer lifting and workouts,” said Whalen. “When camp season comes around, then they will get me my fair shot at both spots and they will put me where they best see me fit whether that be linebacker or fullback. They will put me where they need help the most and succeed the best too.”
“It is pretty neat,” said Whalen. “I wouldn’t have expected this two months ago. I mean neither would Alec because he was dead set to Northern Illinois, and I was still searching for what was best for me. Now we end up both going to the same school, so it is kind of cool. We talked last week and he told me to go where I will have the most fun and keep growing into my play.”
With his recruitment finally behind him and ready to sign his national letter of intent Wednesday, Whalen is gearing up and looking forward to competing at Wisconsin.
“I’m super excited,” said Whalen. “You are at a loss for words because it is every in-state kid’s dream to get offered by the Badgers. Now, it is just training to be prepared for summer conditioning and get prepared for fall camp. I’m super excited!”
Brice Marich contributed to this report