Whether taking along with his brother during his recruiting process or venturing out during his own, Chicago Mt. Carmel long snapper Steven Wirtel has been to quite a few college campuses. Experiencing the University of Wisconsin on Saturday, Wirtel couldn’t find another environment that compared.
“It was definitely an eye-opener, probably one of the best game days I have been to,” Wirtel told BadgerNation. “This one really stuck out. When I first arrived, the streets were just filled with red. Every place was filled. You could definitely feel the atmosphere building up.”
Wirtel has heard plenty about Wisconsin game days from fans and the Badgers coaches. The actual product lived up to the billing.
“My eyes got really big,” said Wirtel. “It was really excited to me. I got goosebumps, and I wasn’t even playing. Everything from the opening kick to the Jump Around was just awesome. I loved it.”
The 6-4, 207-pound Wirtel has been on the radar of special teams coach Chris Haering and quality control assistant Taylor Mehlhaff since early summer. When Wirtel came to one of UW’s specialist camps, his performance quickly earned him a scholarship offer.
“We’ve been communicating as much as we can,” said Wirtel. “We’ve been talking through Twitter, over the phone or whichever way possible. It was good to really sit down with them again and just catch up on everything. It’s going really well right now.”
One of the main topics of conversations for Wirtel was if he still had a valid scholarship offer. It’s a rarity for college programs to offer high school long snappers scholarships. It’s been rarer for a staff to accept two scholarship long snappers.
So when Wisconsin accepted a verbal commitment from Encinitas (CA) La Costa Canyon long snapper/receiver Jake Cesear in early August, it was thought that Wirtel was no longer an option.
“(Cesear’s commitment) did come up and they talked to me about it,” said Wirtel. “The recruiting process is a tough one and things don’t always go through as plans. They told me that I am still with them, the offer is still there and they would be more than excited to get me out there.
“It might affect me a little bit. I kind of want to go somewhere where I would be the only guy right now. If I had to battle, I guess that’s what I have do.”
After Wisconsin became Wirtel’s first offer, he picked up offers from Illinois, Auburn, Georgia and Kansas. His older brother currently plays for the Jayhawks. Wirtel will be taking an unofficial visit this weekend to Illinois and will possibly take his official visits to Auburn to Georgia after his season.