Badger Nation's Strong Side Linebackers

With Wisconsin in good need of some linebackers to fill the void of Jonathan Casillas and DeAndre Levy, the Badgers have set their sights on some strong side linebackers that are tearing it up on the high school football field.

2009 high school strong side linebackers that Wisconsin has shown legitimate interest in

A.J. Fenton (three stars)

6-foot-2, 208 pounds, 4.7 40-yard dash

McDowell H.S. – Erie, Pennsylvania

Looking at his numbers, one would think A.J. Fenton was being recruited as a running back. As a junior, Fenton had 144 carries for 1,079 yards and 13 touchdowns in only seven games, as he missed portions of last season with a pulled hamstring, and was named First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-Region Six.

Although he only started one game on defense, registering seven tackles and one sack, Fenton's recruitment is taking off as a prototypical linebacker. So far this summer, Fenton has camped at Michigan and at Illinois, where he received an offer. After camping in Champaign, Fenton took an unofficial visit to Madison.

In addition to getting his first offer from Syracuse and holding offers from Illinois and Wisconsin, Fenton holds scholarship offers from Marshall, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Stanford. Although he has no favorite and no timetable for his commitment, Pittsburgh has been making the hardest push being the local team and Fenton visiting the campus frequently.

Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium Interest

Tucker Windle (three stars)

6-foot-3, 218 pounds

Charlotte Catholic H.S. – Charlotte, North Carolina

A two-way player for Charlotte Catholic, Tucker Windle excelled on both sides of the football during his junior year. As a tight end, Windle registered 15 catches for 365 yards and seven touchdowns while getting 65 tackles, six sacks and four forced fumbles as a linebacker, including earning defensive MVP honors in the state title game for his 10 tackle performance.

With his size and versatility, Windle received plenty of early interest from schools from around the east coast, garnering offers from Duke, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Wisconsin.

What two schools stood out for Windle, however, were Virginia (where is dad played outside linebacker) and Wake Forest (where his mom graduated and his dad went to law school). With Wake Forest recruiting him as either a linebacker or tight end and Virginia recruiting him as an outside linebacker, the chance to follow in his dad's footsteps was too much to pass up, as Windle gave Virginia his verbal commitment.

Status: Offered Scholarship – Virginia Verbal

Zakee Bashir (one star)

6-foot-2, 212 pounds, 4.75 40-yard dash

Walnut Ridge H.S. – Columbus, Ohio

An underrated strong side linebacker, Bashir was a member of Columbus' All-City team and was honorable mention All-District after he produced 56 tackles and nine sacks as a junior.

Possessing a quick first step, Bashir has solid hands to shed blockers and uses that quick first step that allows him to easily move from sideline to sideline and pick up running backs out of the backfield.

Performing in the Under Armour/ Combine and visiting schools like Northwestern for junior day and Wisconsin for summer camp, Bashir got that all-important first offer from Toledo and has gotten significant interest from Indiana and Wisconsin.

Bashir is still looking for more offers but wants to play college football in Big Ten and get a solid education in the process.

Status: No Offered Scholarship – High Interest

Antwon Higgs (one star)

6-foot-2, 243 pounds, 4.94 40-yard dash

Pompano Beach Institute H.S. – Pompano Beach, Florida

After getting plenty of talented players from the Sunshine State the last couple of years, Wisconsin has been in a lull for the class of 2009 in getting a Florida prospect in a Badger uniform. UW's fortunes may change with Higgs.

Finishing his junior year with 120 tackles and six sacks, plenty of schools are looking at the talented Higgs as either a linebacker or, because of his size, a defensive end.

Higgs has been showing his athleticism throughout his summer camp tour, including being named the ‘Camper of the Week' at Florida Atlantic's camp. Higgs holds 14 offers from Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Kansas State, Louisville, Mississippi State, Northern Illinois, North Carolina State, Purdue, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Western Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Higgs has mentioned that he really is intrigued by the scholarship offers from Louisville and South Carolina but claims not to have any favorites. Higgs hopes to make a decision by mid senior season because he is going to graduate in December and wants to enroll in chosen school by spring semester.

Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium Interest

Austin Moore (one star)

6-foot-1, 215 pounds

Pompano Beach Institute H.S. – Pompano Beach, Florida

After setting the bar so high after his sophomore season (registering 127 tackles, 63 solo stops, 21 tackles for losses and four sacks), Austin Moore knew that he had plenty of work to do to elevate his status as a solid defensive player.

As a junior, Moore got to that level; totaling 146 tackles, 90 solos, 32 for a loss, three sacks and an interception. His numbers earned Moore being named First Team All-Conference, Second Team All-District and Second Team All-Area.

Moore has been busy this summer going to camps, as he's camped at Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Miami (OH), Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State. Moore originally planned to come to Wisconsin but was getting burned out with camps and had to cross one off his list.

Moore says the interest with Wisconsin is still there, although it has toned down as of late.

Status: No Offered Scholarship – Medium Interest

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