Brinkley, a standout wide receiver and cornerback at St. Louis Beaumont, was considered one of the Midwest's best prospects his junior season. But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete missed four games of his senior season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to remove a calcium buildup. After starting both ways his first three years at Beaumont, Brinkley primarily played receiver as a senior, and had just 15 receptions for 210 yards.
But Wisconsin brought Brinkley up for a visit and his knee checked out fine, so the Badgers provided him with a scholarship.
Brinkley can run the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. He will likely begin his UW career at wide receiver, but he could also play cornerback and can be a return specialist. Has a 2.9 grade-point average and an 18 on his ACT. He is undecided on his major but is leaning towards business.
"I've been wanting to major in business since like my sophomore year of high school," Brinkley said. "I do real (well) in math."
Badger Nation: Do you anticipate redshirting your first year at Wisconsin?
Niles Brinkley: "Not really. They told me to come up trying to play. And I guess if I'm not ready, if they don't think I'm ready, then it's a possibility that I will think about it."
BN: Do you remember what your first impression of the University of Wisconsin was?
NB: "I thought that it was great. I still think that it's a great school. I just thought it was a good opportunity to get a first-class education and play in a great program."
BN: Do you have a favorite memory from your official visit?
NB: "I liked the… the bigger thing that stuck out in my head was the new coach's office. It's overlooking the field. Just looking at the field, thinking about playing on it and all the fans—all 82,000 of the fans in the stands, while we are out there playing."
BN: What are you most proud of from your high school career?
NB: "My sophomore year… I had 35 catches for like 850-something yards (actually 865). And I had like 12 touchdowns. And I won all-metro as a receiver my sophomore year, all conference first-team my sophomore year. And I play special teams… I had like three or four of my touchdowns off special teams. It was just a highlight year for me. That was my best year in football so far."
BN: Is there an athlete you would say you model your game after?
NB: "Well, a little bit… I try to use some of everybody. Like, say, for instance, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. They catch with their hands off their chest… My dad, he taught me how to play. So, I really try to… I never (saw) my dad play. I (saw) him on the tape before. But I try to mimic my dad the most."
BN: Would you say your dad is your role model for football or have you had other role models for football?
NB: "Yeah, he's like the No. 1 role model for football for me."
BN: How has he influenced you over the years, would you say?
NB: "Basically, he kept me on path. Telling me to stay focused and keep my head in the right direction. He just basically kept me focused, and kept me going."
What are your goals for your Wisconsin career?
NB: "One of my goals for my career at Wisconsin is, for my freshman year I want to come in… I want to at least get on the field, to get the feel of a game at least once or twice… I really don't have to start. I just want to be in the rotation. That's all it is.
"…. I'm just going to take it from there. But I'm going to try and come in and start as a freshman."
BN: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
NB: "Well, 10 years from now I want to own my own business. Something like that or, you know, in real estate or something like that. I want to buy houses and sell houses… Do what I've got to do to stay focused.
"I want to be in the NFL, though, 10 years from now, and have a nice career in the NFL."