Badger South bonanza

UW signees Gabe Carimi and Kirk DeCremer were side-by-side again Wednesday

MADISON—Monona Grove's Gabe Carimi and Verona's Kirk DeCremer have grown accustomed to having their names juxtaposed with one another. They were the dominant forces in the Badger South Conference last fall, leading two of the best teams in the region. They faced each other twice last season in games of consequence—one with a conference title on the line, one in the playoffs.

There is, of course, another football-related reason why Carimi and DeCremer have been mentioned in the same breath so often. They each grew up a short drive from the University of Wisconsin and months ago verbally committed to play football for the Badgers.

Wednesday, they each signed national letters of intent to attend UW, becoming part of new head coach Bret Bielema's first recruiting class. Carimi and DeCremer joined Waunakee offensive lineman Nick Clemens—the star of the Badger North Conference last fall—in a signing day press conference at Capital Newspapers Wednesday afternoon. Clemens, who was the Wisconsin State Journal's co-area player of the year with Carimi, signed with Western Michigan.

"It was definitely a good indicator of what college is going to be like, playing against these two right here," Clemens said. "They are both great athletes."

Carimi (6-foot-8, 270 pounds) projects to right tackle at Wisconsin. He was an all-state right tackle and defensive end for the Silver Eagles, and was named a Parade All-American last month.

"There are so many great players in so many states and for them to pick 18 linemen in the whole country is unbelievable," Monona Grove coach Mike Stassi said of Carimi's Parade honor. "It's a gigantic surprise, but it's about time they start mentioning Wisconsin linemen because we've had so many of them go into the NFL."

Monona Grove squared off with Verona in the final game of the regular season, with an outright conference championship on the line. The Wildcats won, 35-28, in double overtime, creating a three-way tie atop the Badger South along with Madison Edgewood. Monona Grove, however, trounced Verona 26-0 in the second round of the Division 2 playoffs.

DeCremer (6-5, 240 pounds), an all-state defensive end and all-conference tight end, had to contend with Carimi on each side of the ball. Initially recruited as a defensive end, DeCremer will instead play tight end he when suits up for his first UW training camp in August, allowing him to line up alongside Carimi for a change.

"It's going to be great having a friend going into college," Carimi said. "We'll work hard to push each other. I'm sure of it."

Carimi grew up in Madison and currently lives in nearby Cottage Grove. DeCremer lives in Middleton. His late father, James DeCremer, played basketball for UW from 1968-71.

"I made a decision very early on to offer Kirk DeCremer, because of some things he had done in camp as well as his ties to the university," Bielema said. "He was actually the first kid to actually commit to me, which is a special feeling"

DeCremer committed to Wisconsin in August, about two months after Carimi made his decision.

Carimi and DeCremer were two of six in-state prospects to sign letters of intent with Wisconsin Wednesday, joining left tackle Jake Bscherer (Sturgeon Bay), wide receiver Lance Kendricks (Milwaukee King), wide receiver/defensive back Diondrae Jenkins (Racine Park) and center Brad Thorson (Mequon Homestead).

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