Solwold already in high demand

Arrowhead High School product could be one of the nation's top recruits in the class of 2008

Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wis., always draws a steady stream of college recruiters from throughout the country during the spring evaluation period. Big Ten and Mid-American Conference programs make their annual stop in to see coach Tom Taraska, but so do far flung national programs from every major conference.

This year, however, the college coaches that have visited Taraska are more interested in one of his sophomores than in any of his juniors.

"The guy that's on everybody's charts is the sophomore, Kevin Solwold. And he'll be one of the nation's top (recruits) a year from now," Taraska said. "That's the guy that garners everything. He's a 6-foot-5, 258-pound sophomore" defensive end.

Solwold's older brother, Mike, lettered at the University of Wisconsin as a tight end and long snapper in 1997, 1999 and 2000, and was part of Badger teams that won the Rose Bowl at the end of the '98 and '99 seasons. He has also played in the NFL as a long snapper.

"(Kevin Solwold) is the guy that everybody has been (asking about)," Taraska said. "Everybody knows he's out there and it's going to be much more intense even than Nick Hayden's recruiting."

That is saying something. Hayden had more than 50 scholarship offers by the time he verbally committed to Wisconsin in late August 2003, early in his senior year at Arrowhead. Hayden played at UW as a true freshman in 2004 and started all 13 games last season as a 6-foot-5, 305-pound defensive tackle.

"Kevin is 6-foot-5, 258 pounds and to put that into perspective, he's three inches taller, and 35 pounds bigger than Nick Hayden was as a sophomore," Taraska said.

"He is much farther ahead than his brother Mike was. Mike was a 6-4, 200-pound sophomore. Now you are talking about a guy an inch-and-a-half taller and 60 pounds heavier."

"To be very honest, as a sophomore we've never had a kid as far along as Kevin," Taraska added. "And we've had, I don't know, 30-some (Division I players) out there over the years.

"He's the most advanced sophomore, probably football and basketball, our school has ever had… He's a huge, tall, rangy kid."

Does Solwold have the frame to carry 300 pounds, like Hayden?

"He's a much bigger-framed kid than Nick was," Taraska said. "…His frame will carry well over 300 pounds, and very, very well. He's a thin 258-260."

Taraska was hesitant to draw direct comparisons between Solwold's playing ability and that of a player like Hayden, other than to acknowledge Solwold's size and the even more intense recruiting interest he is receiving early on.

"He certainly is a very advanced sophomore," Taraska said. "Nick didn't play as much for us, in football or basketball, as a sophomore as Kevin did. And neither did (current Minnesota defensive tackle) Todd Meisel. And they are both starting in the Big Ten. That's not too bad."

Taraska said he was not sure what Solwold's statistics were his sophomore season.

"The funny thing is I don't even know if that's what (college recruiters) see much more of," Taraska said. "They just look and say, ‘Wow. This kid has a heck of a frame, a good bloodline and he comes from a good program.' That's more of what always happens…

"He's probably the most athletic big kid we've ever had. He's got really, really long arms… He runs 4.5 in the agility (20-yard shuttle). He's a 4.8-4.9 kid in the 40(-yard dash). He's very athletically developed at this age."

This is not to say that Arrowhead is without prospects in the class of 2007, but with a prominent recruit like Solwold on hand, the seniors-to-be are overshadowed. Defensive tackle Quinn Markgraf (6-4, 292) is receiving interest primarily from MAC programs and defensive back Wes Kavelaris (5-11, 170) is beginning to garner football interest as the result of a strong track season. Kavelaris is ranked No. 2 in the state in the pole vault (15-3) and he runs the anchor on Arrowhead's fifth-ranked 1,600-meter relay (3:26.12).

"He was running (a 400-meter split in) the low 49s on our relay," Taraska said. "He's garnered a lot more interest as a defensive back.

"He's had a very, very good offseason, and he's had a great track season…

"His body just came together so he's getting a lot of interest in the spring."

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