Shortly after visiting the University of Wisconsin in late July, Chandler (AZ) Hamilton defensive tackle Garrett Rand had no problem putting the Badgers in his top five with four Pac-12 schools. After his official visit to the campus Saturday, Rand won’t deny that the Badgers are high on his list.
“It was a crazy experience,” Rand told Badger Nation. “I loved it so much. The fans were into it. The Jump Around, singing Sweet Caroline … it’s one of the best visits I’ve had so far. I’m excited for my future … It was great to experience the fans, too, the crazy fans were awesome. It was a great visit.”
Although he was hosted by sophomore nose tackle Conor Sheehy, the 6-3, 275-pound Rand spent the weekend intermingling with a number of current players and recruits.
“(Sheehy) had a house full of offensive and defensive linemen and we just bonded with a whole group of people,” said Rand. “It was really nice to bond with guys that easy and that fast.”
While the Badgers already have three commitments on the defensive line for 2015, a pair of in-state prospects in end Luke Benzschawel and tackle Tyler Biadasz and Florida defensive end Keldric Preston, Wisconsin’s coaching staff made it clear to Rand that he’s a top target.
“Coach (Paul) Chryst just wanted to give the message that they are not fake, they are real people and this is not just all recruitment talking,” said Rand. “They actually want me there; they think I’ll be great for their program and they think they can help me. I like all the coaching staff. They are all positive people and all great well-rounded people.”
On his last two visits to Wisconsin, Rand said the main takeaway has been his comfort level with the people in the program.
“The coaches and the players are so comfortable around me,” said Rand. “We’re just talking like regular people, not like I’m a recruit.”
Rated a four-star prospect, the No.25 defensive tackle in the country and the No.274 overall prospect by Scout.com, Rand has had a huge part in Hamilton’s 6-0 start to the season but is quick to deflect praise to his teammates. He called Thursday’s 34-27 win over powerhouse Peoria Centennial a huge team effort.
“It was a huge statement for Hamilton, both offense and defense,” said Rand. “That was our first test of the year, and we did well. Hopefully we’ll keep going on the same track and not let up the whole season and not get better.”