MADISON – Like many high school football players growing up in the state of Wisconsin, DePere (WI) junior defensive end Aaron Vopal called the University of Wisconsin the “dream school” and the “dream scholarship offer.”
For a lot of in-state kids, that dream comes from the fact that Wisconsin is the lone D-1 school in the state. For the 6-8 Vopal, the Wisconsin dream means so much more.
“I grew up watching J.J. Watt, Ron Dayne, Scott Tolzien and Russell Wilson, and I really wanted to be like those guys” Vopal told BadgerNation. “Even the guys that don’t make it to the N.F.L., I loved them. I grew up watching them every Saturday.”
So when the offer finally came, catching him totally by surprise during an unofficial visit to campus Saturday, it didn’t take him too long to fulfill a childhood wish.
“My dad and I driving back (after the offer), having a father-son talk, and we were very connected with my recruitment,” said Vopal. “I always told my parents about everything and kept them involved. This was the school I wanted to go to, so my dad asked me, ‘I know this is the school you wanted, but is this was the school I wanted to commit to?’ We talked about it over Saturday and Sunday with my family and my high school coach. Today I just decided it felt right.”
Vopal announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that he was committed to the Badgers’ 2017 class, joining Scottsdale (AZ) Saguaro four-star offensive lineman Kayden Lyles as early pledges.
“I like the coaches there; I trust them,” said Vopal. “I like the school. I grew up watching. It’s something I really want to do, be a Badger.”
And if watching games on television didn’t impact him enough, Vopal coming down to his first game as a freshman in 2013 and invited as a team guest last season – both coming against Northwestern – and experiencing the environment made him even more hooked on the program.
“You only hear stories about how that stadium gets when they do Jump Around at the end of the third quarter, how good the band is and hearing the Fifth Quarter, another thing you grow up watching,” said Vopal. “The atmosphere is electric. It was something I really loved.”
An all-state and all-conference selection last season, Vopal picked Wisconsin over offers from Buffalo, Iowa State and New Mexico. Having the ability to play both sides of the ball, Vopal will likely start on the defensive line.
“What I like about their scheme is it really emphasizes being aggressive,” said Vopal. “You’re going to be head up on a guy and attack the tackle. That’s what I like about it.”
Vopal emphatically says he’s done with his recruitment with no more visits planned.
“It was a huge weight off my shoulders because this offer wasn’t just another offer,” said Vopal. “The coaches took their time and did their homework on me. They took time to talk to my high school coach, they took the time to watch me practice and come to my school. I think they talked to my coach five-six times before they offered. It was a huge honor.”