Jammar Crane, an outside linebacker at Garland (Texas) High School, has long had the Midwest on his mind.
"Even though it was far away from home, I always wanted to play in the Big Ten," Crane said. "And then my opportunity comes along."
Crane, who offered a soft verbal commitment to Wisconsin earlier this month, had a different team in mind when he was growing up.
"A lot of people, they grow up, they have a favorite college team and if they get an offer from them they will go there. Well, I didn't get an offer from Ohio State. But I got an offer from Wisconsin and they are a winning program."
Crane, who stands 6-1, 195 pounds, gave the Badgers a soft verbal commitment, however, pending a visit to Wisconsin scheduled for Dec. 19.
"The reason for that is location basically," said Crane, who has never been to Wisconsin. "Wisconsin is far away from Texas so I made a soft (commitment) so I'll still be open when I go up there. So I have the decision to switch if I was to not like it."
When Crane makes his visit, he said he is looking for "good academics and a great environment to live in for my four or five years."
A three-year varsity starter at Garland, Crane has some prominent programs among the 11 that have offered him a scholarship.
Crane has not taken any official visits but has visited Tulsa and SMU unofficially. He will also take official visits to Kansas Dec. 5 and Colorado State Dec. 12.
Wisconsin separated itself from the pack by offering Crane an opportunity to play out his childhood dream of taking to the Big Ten gridiron.
"They are on TV every week, great exposure," Crane said. "And also just the fact that I will be able to go up there, and if I work hard and do my job, make an impact at the next level."
Ironically, it was this season's game against the Buckeyes that reinforced Crane's positive feelings about football at Wisconsin.
"My decision is not based on this game, but they showed me a lot of character when they beat Ohio State and how they beat them with a backup quarterback and third-string running back," Crane said. "I mean that shows that not only do you have great team chemistry and good players but you have good coaches."
Crane also feels the Badgers have shown him character through the recruitment process. Crane has played in just three games this season. He played in his team's opener, but was then sidelined for eight contests with a foot injury.
"I injured my foot and they didn't back out on me at all," Crane said. "And they kept with me. I missed my whole season; I just played the first and the last game and then I played the first round playoff game."
Crane returned to action for the Fighting Owls' final regular season game, and then took part in Garland's 19-10 upset over Lufkin in the first round of the Texas Class 5A Division II playoffs. Garland forced the Panthers, the fifth-ranked 5A team in the state, into three turnovers in the fourth quarter. With the Owls leading 12-10, Crane recovered a fumble and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown, providing the margin of victory.
"Nobody said we could beat them," Crane said. "It was a major upset."
Garland (8-3) next faces Allen (10-1) Nov. 22.