The Badgers reeled in one of their biggest catches of the season last week, when Lance Kendricks made his verbal commitment.
Kendricks, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound standout from Milwaukee King High School, is a four-star prospect and the No. 11 wide receiver in the nation, according to Scout.com. He chose Wisconsin over LSU and also had been offered a scholarship by Arkansas, UCLA, South Carolina, Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota.
Why did Kendricks choose Wisconsin?
"I'd definitely say how well I was getting recruited," he said. "Because schools started to fall off kind of. Like they would call less an less. And Wisconsin would call; they were the most frequent to call I guess. They'd call every week you were (allowed) to call. Other schools, they would call, but not as much. That was basically what it was."
Kendricks expects to have an opportunity to play immediately at Wisconsin. He said he needs to get more information from the Badgers' coaching staff, but that future head coach Bret Bielema left him with the impression that UW wants to start two freshmen next year, grouped with a third, more veteran receiver. The Badgers have typically employed two-receiver formations, with a four-receiver rotation in the depth, during Barry Alvarez's tenure, but it is unclear how that might change under Bielema. Wide receivers coach Henry Mason is expected to be retained.
"Since they lost all three of their receivers they want to start two incoming freshmen," Kendricks said. "The other receiver is going to be a little more experienced receiver. So my role would be to come in and start I guess. Well that's what I know so far."
Kendricks said the opportunity to play early was a plus, though it was not as important as the Badgers' steady recruitment of him.
"I wouldn't mind redshirting, I guess because you can always get better," Kendricks said. "But I'm not where I need it as much as others. So I don't really have to."
Kendricks had planned on making his decision before his Jan. 30 birthday.
"I had a while, I just decided I might as well get it over now," he said.
Circumstance helped urge his decision. As recently as Dec. 20, Tiger Rag, Scout.com's LSU site, reported that Kendricks was still deciding between LSU, Wisconsin and UCLA. He had an official visit scheduled with the Bruins for Jan. 13, but that trip fell through.
"I talked to (UCLA) about that (official visit) and decided not to go," Kendricks said. "What happened was they had too many early commits. They weren't really even going to do any more visits, I guess, because they had so many commits early."
After UCLA told Kendricks it would not be bringing him in for an official he settled in to deciding between Wisconsin and LSU. Dec. 21 he gave Bielema his verbal commitment.
In addition to a highly regarded wide receiver for the Badger football program, Kendricks gives the UW track program one of the nation's best triple jumpers.
Track was a major factor in Kendricks' recruitment and a prime reason why his most consistent suitors were Wisconsin, LSU and Arkansas—all schools with top-notch track programs.
"It made a big difference because they're the ones that, because it was, I think, as far as track, Wisconsin, Arkansas and LSU, all three are good track teams and pretty (good) football teams," Kendricks said. "I figured I wanted one where I had a good balance of both. Plus, I know half the track team at Wisconsin."
Kendricks said that staying close to home was not a big factor in his choice. "It helps though," he said. "It always helps." But he certainly will be happy to reunite with several of his former teammates with the Milwaukee Striders club track and field team, including sprinters Demi Omole, Brian Calhoun, Antonio Freeman and James Groce and jumpers Rick Bellford and Joe Conway.