Carimi gets his wish

Lifelong Badger fan receives UW scholarship offer, makes verbal commitment

Gabe Carimi always wanted to be a Badger. So when the University of Wisconsin offered the senior-to-be a scholarship in their football offices this morning he was quick to reply with his verbal commitment.

"I (had) already thought about it," Carimi said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. "I didn't need to think about it when I got there."

Carimi, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound offensive tackle and defensive end at Monona Grove High School in Monona, Wis., was a feint blip on recruiting radar screens this spring. But the first-team all-conference performer wowed colleges at summer football camps. By the time he arrived on the UW campus Sunday, Carimi had already attended camps at Michigan State, Indiana, Nebraska and Michigan and had received scholarship offers from the Spartans and Hoosiers as a result of his camp performances.

This week it was the Badgers' turn to be impressed. Carimi attended UW's camp Sunday and Monday.

"They said they really liked what they saw and that I should come back the next day (Tuesday)," Carimi said.

So Carimi visited the Badger offices and by 11 a.m. had pledged to play his college football for UW, beginning in the fall of 2006.

"Mostly it's close to home and I really don't feel like leaving my community," Carimi said when asked what separated UW from Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska. "They have a great football program, their facilities are top notch. They have a great engineering program that I looked into and I like that."

Carimi hails from Cottage Grove, Wis., just east of Madison and a mere 14-mile drive from Camp Randall Stadium.

"I've always been a Badger fan my whole life and grew up around the Badgers," Carimi said. "They have a great football program. I just knew that I really didn't need to look anywhere else. I liked to be close to home… So I just always liked the Badgers so it wasn't really a question in my mind."

Carimi said the Badgers are recruiting him to play right tackle and that all five of his suitors were interested in him as an offensive lineman. But he still plans to play both offensive tackle and defensive end as a senior this fall. Monona Grove finished 13-1 last season, winning its second consecutive Southern Badger Conference title and going undefeated before losing, 24-7, to Waukesha West in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 state championship game.

"I will be getting breaks on defense, though," Carimi said. "They will switch me out with another player every now and then. I already talked to my coach about it."

What does Carimi feel are his strengths on the football field?

"I have great [footwork], I have good flexibility, which is good, and I can gain more size," he said.

Carimi checked in at 245 pounds as a junior last fall. Now at 265, he said he bench presses 325 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 5.0 seconds.

"My target (weight) is 300," Carimi said. "When I'm going to reach that goal, I don't know. It's not going to be bad weight. So it's a lot power lifting and a lot of eating a lot of protein."

Carimi said that he hopes to weigh 275 pounds by the time he suits up for his first fall training camp with the Badgers, in August of 2006.

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