Garner, though, did not believe he was a Division I athlete until Idaho offered him a scholarship. He sent out highlight tapes searching for additional offers and, on a whim, one of those tapes ended up at UW, where newly hired assistant coach Dave Doeren took a look at it and liked what he saw. In less than two weeks, Wisconsin went from viewing Garner's tape to paying him a home visit to offering him a scholarship and bringing him in for an official visit. During that official visit—the last weekend before signing day—Garner committed to the Badgers.
Garner, who could play defensive end or outside linebacker in college, hopes to weigh 240-45 pounds by the time he begins his freshman season. He boasts a 4.55-second 40-yard dash and a 235-pound bench press.
Because he wants to put on weight for football, Garner likely will not compete in track in college, though he is considering doing so. He finished second in his league in the high jump, long jump and triple jump last spring and qualified for the finals at the state competition in each event. His personal best high jump is 6-foot-2, long jump is 21-6 and triple jump is 42-9.
"The coaches told me that it would be OK to do track and football because of the kind of training and everything so I'm considering it," Garner said. "The only thing about it is that my position, I've got to gain a lot of weight and they think that me doing track is going to cause me to lose weight and I don't need to lose weight."
Muir High School also produced guard Jonathan Clinkscale, who started at Wisconsin for four seasons and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last summer (Clinkscale was released by Tampa Bay Sept. 3, prior to the start of the NFL's regular season. He was on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad from Sept. 13 through Oct. 21, and was re-signed by Tampa Bay in late December and placed on its practice squad). Clinkscale stopped by Muir last season and helped out with the current team.
"He started coming in more and more and through that time, he would give my pointers, he was telling me what I need to do, showing me the ropes, what I need to do to get better," Garner said.
Garner scored a 1510 on his complete, three-part SAT, and 1110 on the math and writing sections—the parts that UW requested for admissions. He plans to pursue a degree in engineering, either computer, civil, mechanical or electrical.
Badger Nation: How did you become interested in engineering?
Ricky Garner: "Well at my school, I'm in the Science, Engineering and Technology Academy and that right there, I joined because I love to take stuff apart, I love to build stuff. Anything electrical, I loved to mess with. When I was little, for some odd reason, I was sticking my hand in sockets, trying to figure out why light bulbs turned on… I loved it, you know? To see you flip a switch and a light bulb turns on, you wonder (about) stuff like that and it just got me into it."
BN: You didn't electrocute yourself ever, did you?
RG: "Not like that. Once or twice I think it (shocked) once or twice, but nothing bad."
BN: What was your favorite memory from your official visit (Jan. 27)?
RG: "My favorite memory? We went to a hockey (game)… I've never been to a hockey game and we went to a hockey game and that's what really made me realize that Wisconsin is more than just a bunch of people that drink and a college. They're all about pride up there. You sit there at the game and everybody's dressed up in the school colors and they're getting into the game. Even if the team loses, they're still into the game. The first day I was out there, Wisconsin was losing 5-1 in a hockey game against Minnesota and they're still cheering, trying to get into it, like, ‘Come on, you guys can still do it.' That school is full of so much pride. Everybody treats you like a family when you're out there."
BN: You went to the game Friday night?
RG: "We went to one Saturday night. I watched that one from a dorm Friday."
BN: Do you anticipate redshirting your freshman year?
RG: "I don't know yet. It all depends on how much weight I gain. That's what it's going to depend on."
BN: Do you have any goals for yourself at Wisconsin?'
RG: "To get my degree and graduate. Sports is just another way to be there but I want to be able to graduate."
BN: Do you know where you would like to be in 10 years?
RG: "Hopefully playing the sport I love still but if all else fails, I'm going to be an engineer."
BN: What would you say is the best sports movie of all time?
RG: Road to Glory and Remember the Titans.
BN: Favorite non-sports celebrity or historical figure?
RG: "Probably Samuel L. Jackson."