Entering the 2017 recruiting cycle with limited scholarships to begin with, pundits knew Wisconsin was going to be very selective with who they targeted. In terms of adding depth at defensive end, the Badgers only needed to target one.
While the staff targeted some defensive end prospects who they wanted to start out at outside linebacker, DePere (WI) High senior Aaron Vopal was the only true end the staff wanted, and they got his verbal commit in late January shortly after he was offered.
“I was honored to give them my commitment because I believe I made the right decision,” Vopal told BadgerNation. “I didn’t really think about it being the only (end). I was just expecting they would bring in other guys, but when they elaborated and said that I was the only defensive end they were going to bring in on scholarship, it’s truly eye opening for me. It justifies my decision to commit earlier than usual because that they really wanted me here, it’s just not an offer they hope I take.”
With his recruitment out of the way, Vopal’s main focus over the summer has been improving himself as a football player. It’s one of the main reasons he came down to one of Wisconsin’s one-day high school camps in June. While he is going to start at defensive end when he gets to Wisconsin next summer, Vopal spent the camp working with offensive coordinator/line coach Joe Rudolph at offensive tackle.
“I really liked the opportunity at camp because I got to work closer with my future coaches and my future teammates,” Vopal said. “It was a lot of o-line work, which was still pretty good for me because I’m playing both ways this year for my high school team. I was able to pick up a lot of good stuff to use during the season this year.”
The camp gave Rudolph a glimpse as to what he’ll have to work with in the future, and what Vopal will have to work against, as commits Tyler Beach (Port Washington, WI), Logan Bruss (Kimberly, WI) and Alex Fenton (Menomonee, WI) all went through drills.
“Something that really impressed me about Logan was his footwork was great,” Vopal said. “He’s aggressive on his blocks, something I really picked up on. You can see that he finishes blocks well.
“Tyler is very, very good as well. I was working drills with him; he’s strong, good fundamentally and you can tell he’s a very good football player.
“Alex I played against in high school, so I kind of knew what to expect going in, but he has got a lot better. He’s very aggressive off the ball. I think with a little fine tuning with his mechanics he can really be something.”
Vopal says he “doesn’t take time” to talk to the few colleges that have contacted him. The only thing he says he’s worried about is getting bigger, faster and stronger in the weight room in order to have a successful senior year.
“I’m trying to honor my commitment,” he said. “Wisconsin is where I want to be.”