Casillas returns from "in-depth" visit

New Brunswick, N.J. outside linebacker is considering four scholarship offers

Jonathan Casillas, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound outside linebacker from New Brunswick, N.J., traveled to the University of Wisconsin for his fourth and most likely final official visit Dec. 17-19.

"It was great. Got to see the campus, the stadium," Casillas said. "Got to hang out with the guys a little bit. I got to watch practice. It was good. It was an in-depth visit."

Casillas has also taken official trips to Illinois (Sept. 9), Kentucky (Dec. 3) and Connecticut (Dec. 10) and is strongly considering those three scholarship offers, in addition to his Wisconsin offer.

How did the Wisconsin official visit compare to his three previous trips?

"It was more thorough I guess because I got to see a lot more stuff," Casillas said. "I get to sit through a lot of meetings, special teams meetings, different position meetings. I got to sit for a whole practice. I got kind of the feel of being a college player, how their day was like, because I was basically hanging with them the whole day. That was a first for me."

Casillas traveled to Madison on what was the city's coldest weekend of the winter so far, but said chill was not a deterrent.

"I woke up [Sunday] morning it was three degrees. That's cold," Casillas.

"Weather is not really something bad, especially because of practicing in the dome or whatever, the bubble," Casillas said, referring to the Badgers' practice facility, the McClain Center. "The only thing with the weather is when you've got to get up and go to practice in the morning."

Casillas also enjoyed his Dec. 10 official visit to Connecticut, a trip he made with his mother and teammate Andre Dixon, a tailback who has already verbally committed to the Huskies. While at UConn, he also had the opportunity to spend time with Marvin Taylor, a redshirt freshman free safety who was Casillas' teammate two years ago.

"Connecticut was great," Casillas said. "First of all, I was with my mom. She went up there with me. And I was with Marvin Taylor and Andre Dixon. So I guess I got to hang out with the guys a little more. Connecticut's great. They are rebuilding a lot of stuff there. They have a billion dollars over a 10-year period. It's going to be nice up there. They have a new facility that they're building and it should be finished in 2006. It's going to be beautiful. It's a nice place up there."

Casillas said that each school he is considering has endearing characteristics.

"I don't know because there's so many things that you can think of," Casillas said. "Like Wisconsin is probably the biggest program, the name stands out.

"Connecticut is the closest. So you know that my mom loves that about Connecticut.

"Illinois is a program with a new coach [Ron Zook], so you know anything could happen with a new coach. You could have a good season and they could have a breakout year this year. They have a lot of young talent over there.

"Kentucky, they are basically saying I could come there and start early.

"There's a couple things you could really think about. So I don't really know what do I want? The order I want it in. It's kind of tough."

Wisconsin is recruiting Casillas as a will linebacker, while his other three suitors are looking at him primarily as a strong safety but also as an outside linebacker.

Casillas has not spoken with new Illinois coach Ron Zook yet, but he is keeping in touch with Illini assistant coach Harry Hiestand.

"He's trying to get Coach Zook introduced to me," Casillas said.

Penn State recently began seriously recruiting Casillas but he said he is not very interested at this point.

"Penn State talked to me the other day but I'm not really considering it. But they're trying to press up on it," Casillas said. "They want me to come up there [Jan. 14]. I don't think I'm going to go up there."

The Nittany Lions have not tendered a scholarship offer.

"I guess I was a late recruit. I think they just watched my film the other day," Casillas said. "I guess they've got to run that by [Penn State coach Joe Paterno] and see what's going on. But I don't think that I'm going to do that option."

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