Taking a closer look at Wisconsin 2016 commit Garrett Rand - a defensive lineman from Chandler, Ariz.

Taking a closer look at the incoming members of the 2016 recruiting class, BadgerNation profiles Chandler (AZ) Hamilton defensive lineman Garrett Rand.

Garrett Rand

Defensive Line

Commitment Date: 10/1/15

Commitment in the Class: 18th


Accolades: Rated the No.1 defensive tackle in Arizona, No.2 in the West and No.16 in the country ... Ranked the No.137 overall player … earned invitation to 2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl ... named top defensive lineman at The Opening Los Angeles Regional ... received Curley Culp Award as state’s top senior defensive lineman from National Football Foundation ... two-time first-team All-Section I selection ... named Section I Player of the Year as a senior, logging 92 tackles, 29 TFLs, 15 sacks and 20 quarterback hurries ... finished career with 248 tackles, 66 TFLs, 32.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 73 QB hurries ... also lettered in wrestling, earning all-state honors as a freshman.

Recruiting Story: Going into his third varsity season (he was reportedly the first freshman to ever start on his high school’s varsity team), Rand picked up his first offer from Arizona State – the first of many to come.

Rand would check out the Sun Devils many times over the next seven months (he took an unofficial visit when ASU controversial beat Wisconsin in September 2013) and start hearing from power schools like Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, USC and Wisconsin. By summer 2014 he was named by Scout as the top lineman on the West Coast on either side of the ball after dominating older players at the SoCal Nike Camp with a combination of strength and quickness off the ball. Those accolades and performances brought offers from Arizona, Illinois, Nebraska and Washington over the next several weeks and months entering his junior year. He was only getting started.

In March Rand won defensive line MVP at The Opening regional in Los Angeles, showing those who watched him at last year’s Nike Camp that he was bigger, stronger and quicker than he was a year ago. Pac-12 schools Stanford and UCLA had already jumped into the mix, but Rand was able to take an important visit in his recruitment.

Having family connections to the state (his mom is from Stevens Point), Rand was always intrigued by the Badgers’ program. He was familiar with a lot of things about the school and had been invited to camp their previously but wanted to get an in-depth look on his trip in mid-July.

On that same visit, Rand would meet Fort Lauderdale (FL) High linebacker Dallas Jeanty. Jeanty had committed the month before and was taking his first visit to the school and saw an opportunity to work on his sale’s pitch.

“I told him no other school can offer him a combination of what he’s looking for like Wisconsin can,” Jeanty said in July 2015. “They just won’t. Everyone thinks he’s going to Arizona State or Stanford, and that’s all well and good, but they just don’t have the fan support like Wisconsin. I may have been bashing other schools, but I had to do what I had to do because Garrett is a hell of a player and we’d love to have him.”

At the conclusion of the visit, Rand confided in Jeanty that Wisconsin was his number one school.

“He said every other place he visited, and he’s visited a lot of schools, Wisconsin blew them all out of the water,” Jeanty said. “He told me he thinks Wisconsin is the best fit for him to showcase his abilities.”

“My hope is I impacted Garrett,” he added. “I was working him like a dog, saying ‘I need you man.’ I told him Wisconsin doesn’t have the reputation of bringing in four and five star recruits, but if you look at this class, that’s starting to change.”

In late August, Rand cut his list to five – Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Wisconsin – and would take his official visits to each school, something said he “definitely” would do from the start. The only non-Pac 12 school of the bunch, the Badgers official was up first, hosting Rand again in late September for their primetime game against Hawaii.

It’s a visit that got him hooked. From the rowdy atmosphere for a non-marquee game to bonding with offensive and defensive linemen at sophomore Conor Sheehy’s house, Rand fell completely in love. It also didn’t hurt that there were double-digit 2016 Wisconsin commits there that weekend and the whole group was laughing, joking and talking about big expectations.

Although knowing UW was likely the place he was going to go, Rand still was on the fence of taking his other official visits. On a layover during his flight home, Rand ran into Scottsdale (AZ) Saguaro 2017 four-star offensive lineman Kayden Lyles. Rand and Lyles didn’t know each other personally prior to the trip, but quickly bonded with one another. Rand was traveling on the visit alone and Kayden was tagging along on older brother Kare Lyles – a 2016 UW commit – and his dad, Kevin, who played for the Badgers in the early 90s. It was revealed by Kare that Rand’s dad called Kevin and asked him to look after his son.

Knowing since May 2015 that Wisconsin was the school he was probably going to go to, Kayden realized on the trip that he didn’t need to push his decision off any longer. So when the two walked through the airport to catch their flight to Phoenix, the plan was hatched.

“I was planning on asking him (if he wanted to commit) when we got back to Phoenix, but he asked me then and there if we just want to do it now,” Kayden said after committing. “I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ We made the connection, I gave him my phone number and we started talking throughout the week.”

“When I was with Garrett, we made a good connection. That’s when I knew we should do it and make this decision now.”

The duo announced their dual commitment four days later, giving Wisconsin one of the biggest recruiting days in history. However it wasn’t quite over for Rand, sending fans in a one-month panic.

While Rand canceled his other officials, UCLA still aggressively pursued him. Before December’s dead period, the Bruins coaches had an in-home visit with him. In early January, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda left the program for LSU, leaving question marks about what kind of defense UW would run in the future and how Rand would fit in. At the U.S. Army All-American game, Rand said he was waiting to see who UW would hire before making any decisions, but he was hearing all about the Bruins from his roommate at the event, Hayward (CA) Moreau Catholic long snapper, and UCLA commit, Johnny Den Bleyker.

The drawn-out hiring process forced Rand to really consider UCLA. After hosting UCLA head coach Jim Mora and defensive line coach Angus McClure for an in-home visit in late January, Rand took an official visit to Los Angeles a little more than 10 days before national signing day.

Rand’s solid bond with the Lyles and Jeanty, who had become one of his closest friends, kept Wisconsin in the driver’s seat. When UW hired Justin Wilcox in late January, who was keeping the 3-4 scheme, Chryst immediately sent him out to meet with Rand and his family. Once Rand knew nothing was going to change, he was again sold on coming to Wisconsin.

Why Wisconsin? “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. 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 … The coaches and the players are so comfortable around me. We’re just talking like regular people, not like I’m a recruit.”

Scouting Report: Rand bench presses over 500 pounds and that weight room strength transfers to the football field. He is almost nearly impossible to block one on one at the high school level. Rand uses his hands very well, often times engaging first and then using his strength to gain separation and make plays. Over the past year, Rand has improved his lateral quickness. In this game he did a good job of slanting and making plays. In the pass game, he pushes the pocket and is disruptive that way.

He does a good job of collapsing the pocket, but adding some pass rush moves would make him a more complete defensive tackle. Rand is roughly 275 pounds right now and pretty thick, so I’m not sure if he can carry over 300 pounds.

Bottom line, Rand is one of the West Coast's finest defensive linemen, has the strength to hold up against bigger linemen at the next level and is a guy that can contribute early in his college career. – Scout’s Arizona recruiting analyst Jason Jewell

Coach’s Quote: “He was a man when he was a freshman when he walked through Hamilton’s door. He’s the strongest kid when he got to Hamilton. He’ll be the strongest kid leaving Hamilton. I think strength wise it really separated him from everybody else because of his dad and his upbringing. He’s a freak in the weight room and he’s able to transfer it on the football field.” – Chandler (AZ) Hamilton head coach Steve Belles

BadgerNation Prediction: With Rand’s ability to shoot gaps and take up space, he’s an immediate impact player for Wisconsin. Pound for pound one of the strongest players on the West Coast, if not the country, Rand reminds me as a combination of Beau Allen and Arthur Goldberg. Talking to defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield in the spring, he thinks Rand has the best chance of playing this season and can add depth at nose and end, dependent on how he adjusts to the college scheme.

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