Badgers Add Three More Preferred Walk-ons

Wisconsin continues to add impressive in-state athletes to its preferred walk-on class, as Somerset athlete Max Praschak, Seymour defensive tackle Gunnar Roberge and Kimberly defensive back Bret Verstegen all commits to Wisconsin.

New Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst wasn’t kidding about making in-state recruiting a priority.

Having already added two scholarship in-state prospects, bumped one up to a full offer and successfully recruited the two who gave a verbal commitment to Gary Andersen, Chryst has secured nine in-state prospects as preferred walk-ons, including Somerset (WI) athlete Max Praschak on Monday.

“I decided to be a Badger today,” Praschak told BadgerNation. “I have already talked to Coach Chryst. I just felt really comfortable there and Coach Chryst is a great guy. Same for the rest of the coaching staff.”

Seymour defensive tackle Gunnar Roberge and Kimberly defensive back Bret Verstegen also announced their acceptance of verbal walk-on offers Monday. The nine known in-state preferred players join 21 current scholarship players in a 2015 recruiting class that ranks No.30 in the county by

"It's always been a dream of mine to play for the Badgers, to have an opportunity to compete at the highest level and be a part of the tradition at Wisconsin” said Verstegen, who will start at safety. "After meeting the coaches and some of the players last weekend, that sealed it. It just felt right."

Verstegen’s campus visit was almost like a homecoming. He had the opportunity to camp with Chryst and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph at Pittsburgh over the summer, and spent a lot of time on his official visit reconnecting with them and building a relationship with special teams coach Chris Haering and secondary coach Daronte Jones, both of whom stopped by Kimberly.

“They all are very down to earth, humble and passionate about football,” said the 6-0, 185-pound Verstegen, who helped the Papermakers win the division 1 championship at Camp Randall Stadium last November. “I'm really excited about the staff… I'll probably be able to contribute on special teams as well. I come from a winning program at Kimberly with amazing coaches that have helped me get where I am. I will continue to work hard, be a team player, and do whatever I need to do to contribute.”

Roberge on the other hand first started getting contact with Rudolph a week ago, getting invited down for an official visit. Having the goal of playing for the Badgers, Roberge was relieved when the coaching staff informed him that they wanted to join the program.

"It felt like home,” said Roberge, who also had a preferred walk-on offer from Minnesota and a handful of division 2 offers. “I formed an instant connection with the coaches there. They all seem to be really personable guys, who are excited to be there and 100 percent committed to Wisconsin… I believe in the new staff. I know they are going to take this program to great places and I wanted to be a part of that. Of course, there is a certain amount of pride that comes with playing for your home state."

The 6-4, 275-pound Roberge also got to spend the weekend with a former teammate, as four-star offensive lineman Jon Dietzen has already enrolled early.

"I think it is really awesome that me and Dietzen get to play together again,” said Roberge. “We were talking the other night and he seems excited as well. We realize not many players get to do that, so we are grateful for the opportunity."

A two-way standout on the gridiron throughout his high school career, the 6-2, 205-pound Praschak also excelled as a high school wrestler. He’ll start out as an outside linebacker, a position he played his first three years of high school, and is looking forward to the opportunity to play for his home-state team.

“I am pretty excited,” said Praschak. “It’s what I've always wanted to be since I was a kid. I believe I can make an impact where ever they play me. I believe I have an attitude that allows me to earn more than I receive. I'm glad to be able to play for such a great school and can't wait.”

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