Casillas close to decision

New Jersey LB is considering three schools and has a favorite in mind

Jonathan Casillas has a bit of a dilemma on his hands. He knows time is running down; that national letter of intent signing day is right around the corner.

Casillas, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound outside linebacker/strong safety prospect, finished his official visits close to a month ago and has been pondering his final decision, combing through the particulars of his favorite schools.

Casillas favors Wisconsin. But Connecticut is much closer to his New Brunswick, N.J. home and is his mom's favorite. Kentucky is still in the mix. He is meekly considering Illinois, if at all, but that school recently sent its head coach in for a home visit.

"I'm still in that daze right now," Casillas said.

Casillas has entertained a coaching parade in the past week. Wisconsin offensive coordinator Brian White, Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall, Illinois head coach Ron Zook and Kentucky associate head coach Steve Ortmayer have all stopped in to try to sway him. Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez, Casillas said, will visit either this week or early next week.

"I'm not really making my final decision on the home visits," Casillas said. "A lot of my decisions were made, or a lot of influences were made, when I went to the visits at the colleges. I saw how everything was at the college. [The] determining factor is what I want more in the schools."

Currently, Wisconsin holds the lead for Casillas' services.

"Wisconsin has the edge because that's, like, at the highest level," Casillas said. "It's one of the top schools in the nation academically and athletically with football."

"One thing that's holding me back is really because my mom, she really likes Connecticut," Casillas said. "That's probably holding me back right now."

Though Casillas previously said it would not be a factor in his decision, it should be noted that his prep teammate tailback Andre Dixon is a Connecticut commit.

Casillas is still grappling with his final decision but hopes to have a resolution soon. Though it appears to be coming down to Wisconsin and Connecticut, he is still considering Kentucky as well.

"Those are the big three," Casillas said.

"Any day now I think I'll make a decision, because it's getting a little more intense now," he said.

Casillas' first official visit was to Illinois Sept. 11 but the Illini slipped following the firing of Ron Turner, mostly because Casillas was not sure where he stood with the program.

Zook's appearance certainly shows the Illini are interested. Casillas, however, said he was not as comfortable going to a school with a new coach as he was with his three favorites.

"I don't think that the consistency," Casillas said, "I don't think I want to do that with a new coach and everything like that."

Zook did make a favorable impression.

"It was interesting, you know, because I haven't talked to them in a very long time; I haven't talked to any one from Illinois," Casillas said. "I wasn't sure of their concern level about me.

"When [Zook] came up it was a little bit of a surprise. My mom liked him. She liked his integrity."

Casillas also took officials to Kentucky (Dec. 3), Connecticut (Dec. 10) and Wisconsin (Dec. 17).

Throughout the process, Casillas' primary recruiting contact at Wisconsin has been Brian White, who paid him an in-home visit Thursday. Additionally, Casillas has recently been speaking with Badger defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Bret Bielema and head coach Barry Alvarez. The latter is expected to make an in-home visit by early next week.

Bielema would be Casillas' position coach if he were to attend Wisconsin. An outside linebacker at New Brunswick High School, Casillas had 90 tackles and 15 sacks last season. The Badgers are projecting him as an outside linebacker. All of his suitors are looking at him as either an outside linebacker or as a strong safety.

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