Wisconsin’s home game against Hawaii in late September was tremendous for the Badgers on the recruiting trail. UW secured three commitments following its primetime game against the Warriors, including a four-star prospect in the 2016 and 2017 recruiting class.
It also gave Scottsdals (AZ) Saguaro tight end Jared Poplawski his introduction to the spectacle that is a Badgers’ home night game.
“It was a great opportunity,” Poplawski told BadgerNation. “I was so thankful to be there and experience everything that Wisconsin was. It was a great game, great facilities. It was insane to see the stadium full and everyone into the game.”
Poplawski hadn’t been getting much contact from the Badgers prior to his unofficial visit but got to tag along with teammates Kare Lyles (a 2016 verbal commit) and Kayden Lyles (a 2017 commit). He’s certainly getting attention now.
While Byron Murphy (an uncommitted four-star prospect) gets the majority of Kare Lyles’ throws, Poplawski is averaging over 12 yards per catch. In a win over Desert Mountain, Poplawski caught two touchdowns and returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown.
After likely taking only one tight end in 2016 (three-star recruit Jake Hescock), Poplawski could be just what the Badgers are looking for next year.
“I got to watch some film with Coach Mickey Turner, and he showed me all the different ways they like to use the tight end,” said Poplawski. “They like to use the tight end as much as possible. A lot of times they have two or three tight ends on the field. It was excited to see them using them that much.”
At 6-4 and 225 pounds, Poplawski has the frame that colleges want. He’s heard from the in-state schools and got interest from Washington.
“My strength is my biggest asset,” said Poplawski. “I have good size and know how to use my body when I am catching the ball by shielding off defenders. My last two I have really worked on becoming a blocking tight end. I can use that to help keep me on the field. I don’t want to be one dimensional and just used as a pass-catching tight end. I want to be used for run blocking and pass catching.
Saguaro High School only has roughly 25 players on its high school varsity, making the team a truly tight-knit bunch. Getting a chance to work with a quarterback like Lyles has been vital to his improvement and the team’s success.
“He’s been great being a leader,” Poplawski said. “He’s been great keeping our team focused and on track to get to where we want to be. We go into games knowing that we’re going to grind.”