As he tried to stay patient through the recruiting process, Denver East athlete Deron Harrell had a number of schools complement his ability and laud his talents, but he never had one school fall in love with him enough to get him a scholarship offer.
That’s what made January 17 so special for the 6-3, 180-pound prospect, as Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst capped Harrell’s official visit with a scholarship offer that ended his recruitment Tuesday.
“I just like how the coaches welcome everybody in and treat all the players’ great,” Harrell told BadgerNation. “It just made me feel right at home.”
Offered a grayshirt by Wisconsin and getting a chance to talk it over with his parents, Harrell becomes the 25th commit in the Badgers’ 2016 recruiting class. By accepting the grayshirt, Harrell will sign his national letter of intent Feb.3 but won’t enroll with the program until January 2017, at which time his eligibility clock will start.
Harrell received interest from Air Force, Colorado State, Hawaii, Utah State and Wyoming after playing quarterback for his high school team last season, throwing for 1,347 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also registered 18 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
According to Harrell, UW could see him playing either cornerback or receiver.
“They see me more on defense as a cornerback, but talking to Coach Gilmore, he says I could play some receiver,” said Harrell. “He might fly out to come watch me play.”
A couple weeks ago Harrell knew very little about Wisconsin, except from what he saw on television and the Badgers having notable alumni like Melvin Gordon and Russell Wilson. That changed when tight end coach Mickey Turner flew to Denver to watch him play basketball, where Harrell is a key figure of his team and averages 16.0 points per game. The athleticism stood out.
“I had a really good game, scoring about 22 points, and after that he called to schedule a visit,” said Harrell. “I was excited to go on the visit.”
Hopeful that a scholarship offer would come out of the trip, Harrell’s official visit over the weekend was more than he ever could have expected.
“This was the opportunity I had been waiting for for a long time, and I was just hopeful that Wisconsin would offer me on this visit,” said Harrell. “Good things happened for me. I just loved the atmosphere of being around the coaches and the players. They were all great people, along with the students. It made it a fun place to be at.”
Considering his basketball background, Harrell was in heaven watching Wisconsin take on No.4 Michigan State at the Kohl Center.
“It was amazing seeing them beat Michigan State,” said Harrell. “It was a real good game.”
Hosted at first by safety Leo Musso, Harrell also spent time with receiver George Rushing, who was hosting Grand Prairie (TX) South cornerback Caesar Williams on his official visit. The interaction combined with everything else told him Wisconsin was the right place for him.
“The players welcomed you in, no matter where you are from or how you lived,” said Harrell. “That’s something that made me feel special. Being around the players was one of the biggest things.”