In his first real football action since hanging up the pads following the Division 2 state championship game last November, Waukesha West offensive lineman Sam Heckel admitted it took a while for him to get into a flow at the Badgers’ high school summer camp Sunday.
Once he found his rhythm, Heckel showed why he’s one of the best lineman prospects in the state.
“As the day went on I got progressively better and did better in one-on-ones,” Heckel told BadgerNation. “In the second practice I was winning 99 percent of my one-vs-ones and in board drills I was blowing people off the line. I’ve got to give it to Coach Rudolph. He’s a really good coach, great coach and I love to talk to the guy. In the time I was with him I learned a lot. There were a lot of good in-state guys there, and one guy - Chase (Behrndt) from St. Louis – was doing really well. ”
Part of an impressive group of offensive linemen, a group that included some of the top in-state linemen in the 2016 and 2017 class as well as a couple kids from the region, Heckel feels like he’s a valued target of the staff after having been visited previously by both offensive line coach Joe Rudolph and special teams coach Chris Haering.
“They like my film, they like how I play and I think my relationship is getting stronger between me and the school,” said Heckel. “I am liking it. Coach Rudolph talked to me (after camp) and he said how he loved how I came up here and competed, how I came off the ball and a couple more things.”
Playing in the Classic Eight Conference with high school powerhouses like Hartland Arrowhead, Mukwonago, Waukesha Catholic Memorial and others, Heckel has gone up against many talented fronts on the West offensive line.
“I think our conference prepares us more than any other conference; I believe the Classic Eight is the best conference in the state,” Heckel said. “There are good teams in other conferences, but we have really good competition, especially on my team. I was going against (Dyson and Marcus) every day in one-vs-ones. At the beginning of the year, I had to pick it up really quickly because I was tired of getting beat all the time because they are so good.”
The work has paid off with 18 scholarship offers, including ones from power five conference schools Illinois, Iowa State, Northwestern and Virginia. Of the group, however, Northwestern and Virginia are the standouts.
“I really love Northwestern,” Heckel said. “I like what they have to offer for me with their academics being as good as Ivy League schools and competition in Big Ten football. The fact that it’s the Big Ten and it’s an o-lineman game. Virginia stood out to me as well because they are a good school and a good program.”
Wanting to make his decision prior to the start of his senior football season, Heckel should know where he stands with Wisconsin in the coming days.
“(Coach Rudolph) has the power to string us a long a little bit more than some other schools,” said Heckel. “He said he’ll give my head coach a call soon. Camp was kind of a make it or break it deal. The thing I like about Rudolph is he said he’s not going to play any games. This week he’s going to call and say whether he’s the right fit or not.
“To be honest, I would probably stack Northwestern just as high as Wisconsin (if they offered) at this point just because I like the school a lot. Don’t get me wrong, a Wisconsin offer would be huge. It’s every in-state lineman’s dream to go to Wisconsin.”