Badgers to benefit from Toon's quick decision

Wide receiver likely could have raked in several more scholarship offers

Proximity and familiarity gave the University of Wisconsin a tremendous advantage in recruiting Nick Toon, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound class of 2007 wide receiver prospect who verbally committed to the Badgers Thursday.

Toon did not begin playing varsity football at Middleton (Wis.) High School until last fall, a product of the Cardinals' program goals, rather than of Toon's ability.

So while other big-name suitors such as Notre Dame and Michigan geared up their recruiting efforts in the past several months, Wisconsin had already been sending Toon mail for quite some time, even if the Badgers also picked up the pace of their efforts last fall.

"After my freshman camp I got my first letter I guess you would say from Wisconsin," Toon said in a telephone interview Saturday. "The beginning of my junior year was really when they started to send me all the mail and invite me to their games and stuff."

Toon has been attending Badger football camps for several years, giving UW's coaching staff—namely wide receivers coach Henry Mason—ample opportunity to see him perform.

"I didn't really expect any other schools to offer as quick as they did because Wisconsin had the advantage to watch me grow and progress as an athlete because I've been attending their camps since the summer of my eighth grade," Toon said. "They've been able to watch me play during my seasons and watch me progress from time to time when they see me."

Sure enough, Wisconsin offered Toon a scholarship Feb. 1—national letter of intent signing day for the class of 2006, just over a year before Toon will be able to sign. It took him only a few weeks to make up his mind, despite receiving significant interest from two other programs he held in high esteem: Notre Dame and Michigan. Toon was also being courted by Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana, Ball State and Toledo.

"I had two or three weeks to think about it," Toon said. "That's kind of a quick decision most people would think but I've been thinking about it for a long time and it hasn't been only those three weeks. But during those three weeks I didn't stop thinking about my options and I kept going through a little list of things I had in my head that were important to me and Wisconsin fit that list. It's just the best place for me to be."

What were some of the reasons he chose Wisconsin?

"Being close to home was always nice, and it's going to be nice to be able to have my family be able to attend all my games," Toon said. "I really like the coaching staff. I think (head coach Bret) Bielema's going to be very successful here at Wisconsin. I really Henry Mason, the receiver coach. I think he's going to help me improve and become the best athlete I can be."

Toon, who had more than 800 all-purpose yards in 2005 on just 45 touches, was happy to make an early decision.

"It's really nice to be done with the recruiting process," he said. "It's very stressful not only on me, but my parents and my siblings. It's nice to be done with it and now I can concentrate on high school and my next season. I still have a whole 'nother season in high school. Get my grades up and just concentrate on having fun in high school."

Toon said he was excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the Badgers' football tradition. Will it be difficult to follow in the footsteps of his father, Al Toon, one of Wisconsin's all-time leading receivers?

"Everybody asks me that question but what I always say is I was born into this family and I don't know any different," he said. "That's just the way I've grown up."

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