On Second Thought - Hello, Wisconsin

If at first you don't succeed, be thankful you are an all-state linebacker in Illinois so you have other options. Such is the case for Joliet, Illinois (Catholic Academy) senior Kevin Rouse. In September, he pledged his allegiance to Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes. But, new light has been shed on the situation and he feels that being a Wisconsin Badger is the best decision for his future.

When you make a commitment in life, you usually do the work in order to maintain it. However, there are some commitments in which the work you put in shows you that your decision may have been a rush-to-judgement sort of situation. But when you are the oldest of eight children, you have to think before you react. Such is the case for Joliet,IL Catholic Academy's Kevin Rouse.

It was just three months ago that he had decided to be another one of the Chicagoland area kids jumping on the Kirk Ferentz recruiting train to Iowa.

"It just fit me well when I was there." said the Chicago Tribune honorable mention All-State linebacker. "He (Coach Ferentz) runs a good program and I just liked what I saw. But things change and you have to do what's right for you."

And, over the past month, things have really changed for the Rouse family. When you have eight kids, Kevin being the oldest, changing allegiance can be a very expensive thing.

"My parents were buying clothes with Iowa and Wisconsin on them for everybody." Rouse said. "But, now, it is all Badger all day. I am excited about that." So was Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema, who hosted Kevin and his father at his house on Sunday for breakfast.

"Coach (Bielema) called me and my dad in to talk to us about what we were thinking." Rouse explains. "At first, I was a bit overwhelmed and nervous. But, after about a minute, I told him I was pretty excited about being up here. I told him that I was ready to be a Badger."

While in Madison, his host was Mickey Turner. "Mickey was a good guy to have as a host." Rouse says. But, perhaps the best host was the Hilton Hotel they stayed in. "Man, the view of the lake was incredible. Madison is a gorgeous city when you see from where we were. I love that place."

Fans of the Wisconsin football team can also begin to fall in love with Kevin's playing abilities. He tallied over 140 tackles on the season from his middle linebacker spot. The team's performance was a bit disappointing, but Kevin is ready for a new challenge.

"When I get the pads on in Wisconsin, it will mean that all the work I have put in the last four years will be worth it." Kevin exclaimed. "My little brother (eighth grade) thinks this is the coolest thing ever. But my sister, who is a sophomore, could really care less. No matter what they are proud of me."

Kevin scored a 26 on his ACT and his a stellar HS student with a near 4.0 cumulative GPA. Being the oldest of eight children means he is carrying the torch for them all. The Badger coaching staff see him as a middle linebacker, for now. At 230 pounds with a 4.6 forty time, he makes a pretty good gap filler. He also makes a pretty good role model.

"My brother, the eighth grader, says that he is ready to do all of this stuff (recruiting), too." Rouse said. "I think he wants to do it the same way that I did, except just be a Badger." His family is very close, and you can hear that when he speaks of them. They all have a great feeling of pride and thankfulness that is all behind them (and behind Kevin). Additionally, they all feel the same thing about one thing.

"It feels good to be a Badger." Kevin said. And the fans in Madison, and everywhere else, will not disagree.

Welcome 10 new Badger fans to the family.

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