Transition has dominated the last year for four-star offensive lineman Kayden Lyles.
Transferring from Scottsdale (AZ) Saguaro and moving to Middleton with his family in the offseason, the Wisconsin commit transitioned from tackle to a guard/center combo for the Cardinals and had to learn a brand new offense scheme.
It obviously didn’t matter, as Lyles was named a consensus first-team all-state selection, the senior offensive lineman of the year in the state and the Wisconsin State Journal all-area player of the year.
“It just means my hard work is paying off,” Lyles told BadgerNation. “I’ve just got to keep working. This is obviously not my final goal.”
The 6-4, 320-pound Lyles was part of a large official visitor contingent at Wisconsin over the weekend. In addition to him, offensive linemen Tyler Beach, Logan Bruss and Alex Fenton, tight end Jake Ferguson, linebacker Izayah Green-May, quarterback Jack Coan and defensive lineman Aaron Vopal all made it to campus.
The group attended the team banquet on Friday, a developmental practice on Saturday, got a campus tour and spent time with coaches, fellow recruits and future teammates during the weekend.
“I’ve always come down here in the summer to hang out with the team and hanging out with my older brother,” Lyles said, referring to redshirting quarterback Kare Lyles. “I’ve gone around the campus and actually going to a couple of my brother’s classes, just doing everything they were doing. Nothing really came as a surprise (on my official) other than meeting my future teammates.”
“It was good, just being able to see what (Beach, Bruss and Fenton) are like outside of football,” Lyles added. “Everybody has a different mentality outside of football, so being able to hang out with them as regular teenagers was great to see what they were all like.”
Lyles was hosted on the weekend by sophomore nose tackle Olive Sagapolu, someone Lyles has become real close to over the past two seasons.
“Ever since I’ve moved out here I’ve gone downtown and hanging out with him mostly every weekend or so,” Lyles said. “Honestly it was like any other weekend.”
Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst has seen a lot of Lyles the past week. Following the Big Ten championship game, Chryst had an in-home visit with Lyles Sunday. They spoke again this weekend to help ease any concerns Lyles has with transitioning to college next month.
“He just said to be ready and be prepared because there’s always going to be a transition no matter what,” Lyles said. “There’s always going to be a difference from me going from high school classes to college classes, hanging out with high school athletes and college athletes and being able to live on campus compared to living at home.”
In addition to Lyles, Coan and Green-May, cornerbacks Madison Cone and Faion Hicks and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel will all arrive for spring semester. There is a chance that number could increase, according to Lyles.
“I think it’s going to be great not to be the only one to be thrown in and expect (the coaches) to be OK with everything,” Lyles said. “Being able to come in with a group of people, being able to experience everything with them, going through the hard stuff with somebody who is in the same shoes as me will be good. It’ll be interesting to see how each of us handle it.”
Planning to learn all three interior linemen positions, Lyles hopes to hit the ground running after he moves in January 13 and begins winter conditioning soon after.
“Being able to come in and have an advantage, go through everything before everybody else and being able to lift, talk with my coach, go through a couple classes is one of the goals,” Lyles said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m excited to come in and be a part of the team and hopefully put something toward the team and put something on the table that they need.”