Chilton's Juckem A Top Prospect

Already holding offers from Army and Washington State, Chilton's Justin Juckem is one of Wisconsin's top high school prospects and, more importantly, has plenty of good things ahead of him now that he's back to 100 percent.

CHILTON, Wis. – The way college athletes have evolved over the last 20 years, universities have changed the way they've recruited – steering away from just the athletic and focusing in on the athlete that combines his athleticism with major doses of size and speed.

Chilton's Justin Juckem fits into that category like a glove. At 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, Juckem is one of the top prospects in the state and has the ability to play multiple positions: earning honorable mention all-conference as a strong side linebacker his sophomore year (also playing backup tight end) and was a blocking tight end and strong side defensive end as a junior.

"If I was a college coach, I will be looking at him as a tackle after bulking him up, but we've had a lot of people looking at him for different things," Chilton head coach Ray Mlada said. "People are intrigued by the size and speed of him and once they get him on campus, they are going to figure out what to do with him."

So far, Army and Washington State have extended that offer to the talent prospect, who runs a 4.6 40 time, benches 270 pounds and squats 420 pounds, but the offers don't expect to end there. In addition to the Badgers, Buffalo, Connecticut, Iowa and Michigan State have asked for film and the school has welcomed visitors from Michigan Tech, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois and Western Michigan.

But from Juckem's perspective, it was Wisconsin's Bob Bostad that got the recruiting ball rolling for him.

"He's pretty much the guy that saw me at the camps freshman year and really opened up the recruiting process for me," Juckem said. "When it comes to Wisconsin, they've shown a lot of interest and it's great to go down there every year and see the things that they present. But with all these other offers, I can see the endless opportunities that await me and that's a great thing."

A multi-sport athlete, Juckem also participates in basketball and track, where he was a sixth-place finisher in the 1,600 meter relay at the state track meet last spring. Although this track season ended without an appearance at state, Juckem was fortunate to be able to physically perform at all.

Prior to his team's seventh game last season, Juckem was participating in a pass skelly drill when his quarterback aired the ball high over his head. Juckem was able to reach back and make the catch but his foot got planted wrong in the turf. The end result was an oblique fracture of the fibula and the end of his season.

"Right off the bat, I fell into a personal slump and at that point, your season is over with," Juckem said. "In the end, it makes you stronger as an athlete and as a whole knowing that you can come back. I worked really hard and developed exercises to accomplish my main focus of getting back on the field."

With a plate in the leg to stabilize, many teams, including Wisconsin, have told Juckem that they want to have him work out before they extend a scholarship to see how he reacts post break. From his coach's standpoint, that's water is under the bridge.

"He came back and finished the basketball season," Mlada said. "He's been running track really well. He ran an 11.3 in the 100 meters and did a 23.0 in the 200. That's pretty good for a guy his size."

Juckem has been around the Wisconsin program most of his high school career. He was invited to and attended multiple home Badger games last year as well as spring practices the last two seasons. This June, Juckem will be attending his second UW summer camp and, if all goes according to plan, he'll leave with his performance reassuring the coaches of his abilities and possibly, another scholarship offer.

"They said they want to see me at camp and make sure my leg is better, but I feel confident that it could possibly, in the future, turn into something positive," said Juckem, who would like to get his commitment over and done with before his senior season starts so he can focus on football. "I grew up being a Badger so just the possibility of being a future link would be a great opportunity. They are one of the top schools in the country in engineering, which is what I am looking at for the future."

With Juckem's leg healthy and still relatively young to the game, Mlada is excited about the prospects of watching his college prospect continue to grow and develop into a steady player. If his first two years are any indication of that growth, it's without question that Juckem's best years are still ahead of him.

"He's got a lot of upside," Mlada exclaimed. "I don't think he has a full understanding of the game yet but there isn't an opposing end that could stay on the line of scrimmage with him. As a tight end, you'd be impressed with his run blocking and as an end, you'd be impress with his closing speed on the quarterback. We're as excited as these other schools to see what we've got."

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