He thought about letting the opportunity to sink in, but the 6-5, 235-pound athlete is still on cloud nine.
“I know an opportunity like this doesn’t come around very often, so I wanted to jump on it as fast as I could,” Sampson told BadgerNation shortly after committing to the Badgers’ 2018 recruiting class. “And growing up a Badgers fan, I know I am going to enjoy it there. It was the right decision.”
Holding offers from Illinois State, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Northern Illinois, South Dakota, South Dakota State and Western Illinois, Sampson got no indication he was in line for a scholarship when he visited for a spring practice last month. At the time, special teams coach Chris Haering – who recruits the state of Wisconsin – said the staff was still evaluating him.
“They wanted me to continue just on my own process, just get bigger and stronger,” Sampson said. “I was going down to a camp already, so I think they wanted to see more grow some more from when I first went down there.”
As a result, Sampson was “really caught off guard” when Haering called to check in Friday and ended the conversation by extending the scholarship offer.
“I was pretty much speechless,” Sampson said. “It was just so great.”
Following a three-hour conversation with his parents and sleeping on it, Sampson called back Haering with his decision.
“It’s an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Sampson said.
According to Sampson, the Badgers see him helping the roster at either tight end, defensive end or possibly offensive tackle if his body fills out that way. Wisconsin is in the market for both a tight end and another defensive end in the 2018 class, so Sampson’s future position could be based on the targets the program misses on.
Sampson made 39 tackles (36 solo) with a forced fumble and interception last season, while also catching a touchdown pass.
No matter where he goes, Sampson is excited to be doing it just a couple hours from home.
“Wisconsin is an elite program, and I’m excited to be a part of something this huge and very impactful on the culture of Wisconsin,” Sampson said. “I’m a big Wisconsin guy.”
Sampson is the ninth commit of Wisconsin's 2018 recruiting class.