Jonathan Casillas Q&A

New Jersey linebacker/safety – prospect profile

New Brunswick High School in New Brunswick, N.J. is no stranger to Division I recruits. In recent seasons Dwayne Jarrett (USC), Marvin Taylor (UConn) and Kareem Byrom (Buffalo) have all gone on to play Division I college football.

This year, the University of Wisconsin reaps part of that bounty, in the form of Jonathan Casillas, an exceptionally athletic, 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect who could play will linebacker or strong safety for the Badgers.

Casillas played outside linebacker in a blitz-heavy scheme at New Brunswick, recording 90 tackles and 15 sacks his senior year. He also stars for his varsity basketball team and in the classroom. Casillas scored an 1100 on his SAT as a sophomore and carries a 3.0 grade-point average.

Badger Nation: Do you have an academic discipline in mind for college?

Jonathan Casillas: "Not right now. I was just thinking about computer engineering but I wasn't too sure. It was just something to actually put down on paper, so I might go into business or something like that. I might leave it open for when I go there, whatever catches my eyes, I might go that way."

BN: How is your basketball season going?

JC: "We won four of our last five games with a lot of the young players we've got so I'm starting to be a real good addition, just trying to get double-doubles like every night."

BN: Are you still playing a variety of positions in basketball?

JC: "Yeah. They move me around a lot. I start the game at center sometimes and sometimes they've got me running the wing, ‘2' guard for them."

BN: Do you anticipate redshirting your first year at UW?

JC: "They told me that I wasn't going to redshirt and I'm trying to push so I can just come in my freshman year, at least get on the field a couple of games, play special teams, work my way into the system real good. I don't want to redshirt. I want to play my first year and hopefully make a big contribution to the team."

BN: So what, then, would be your goals for your first year and for your entire career at Wisconsin?

JC: "Hopefully, coming in my first year, I can ring some bells, get my name out there a little bit, and establish the linebacker, you know, the linebacker name at Wisconsin. Because Coach [Bret] Bielema, you know when you look at Wisconsin, you think of Erasmus James and you think of the Scott Starks and you think of the d-backs. You don't really talk too much about the linebackers. But I'm trying to establish something with Wisconsin and hopefully I can make a big impact coming in my first year and go for a national championship or a Big Ten Conference. I just want to contribute, no matter what."

BN: When do you expect to arrive on campus?

JC: "Probably the second week of July. They want me to come up early, so maybe after the Fourth of July."

BN: What was your favorite memory from your official visit (Dec. 17-19)?

JC: "My favorite memory? Hmmm… probably when I saw the field. … When I walked in, I didn't know exactly where exactly I was at. I walked in and I seen the coaches offices and I seen that they had the tables set out for us eating dinner. As I got out there, I looked to my right and I saw this big old stadium and I'm like, ‘damn,' so I ran over to the glass like, ‘God, it was huge.' I mean, at the same time, I got to see Coach [Barry] Alvarez for the first time in person so that whole five, 10 minutes when I arrived at the stadium, that was probably just…the signature time."

BN: What was your favorite memory from your prep career?

JC: "Probably, maybe two moments. The state championship last year we beat Long Branch 21-14, Dwayne Jarrett scored all three of our touchdowns. That was a pretty big game for us. We were 11-1 the year before, made it to the state championships and lost by one point. That year, coming in, we dominated every team and we had to make our names, get out there a little bit. That was beautiful for me. My sophomore year, my first game starting, probably like the third game of the season, my first game starting was against our cross-town rivalry, South River, I had three sacks. That's when the coach was like, ‘Hey, who's this kid?' So that's when I started making some plays. So those two moments, the moment where we won and when I made three sacks and had like five tackles for loss against in my first game starting, that was pretty good for me."

BN: What was your favorite college team growing up?

JC: "Growing up, like back in the day, I used to be a basketball player, I never really played football too much, so it was Connecticut, like the Connecticut basketball team. Football wasn't really my thing until I got to high school."

BN: So growing up, was your dream to go play basketball for the Huskies?

JC: "Yeah."

BN: Did that change right away in high school or did it take a little while?

JC: "Probably sophomore year, when I started playing a little more football and I got to start and people started knowing who I was; ‘Hey you, you play football?' ‘Yeah, yeah.' ‘You No. 10?' ‘Yeah, yeah, I know you.' Yeah, and at the end of the year, I broke my arm so I was basically out for the whole basketball season, so I really didn't play too much basketball and junior year I came in and had another good year in football so after that, football just took over. I started getting looks from colleges. I don't even watch basketball no more."

BN: Do you have a favorite pro team from when you were young?

JC: "I liked the Cowboys when I was real, real young and that was just because my uncle liked them. I watched football with my uncles. But now I like the Eagles, for the last five years, since Donovan McNabb came, I've liked the Eagles."

BN: Who is your favorite athlete?

JC: "Brian Dawkins. What he brings to the table, I just watch him and I'm just like, hoo, hoo, look at him! I just feel his enthusiasm and his energy all the time. I love watching him run around because on the field, he makes plays and has big hits and stuff so he's got to be my favorite athlete."

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