While Coach Ron Cooper only has a couple of weeks remaining with the UW staff, his contributions to the future of the program could continue to flourish well after his departure.
Cooper's recruiting has already resulted in commitments from Georgia and Texas, and his discovery of another prospect could lead to yet another future Badger from the state of California.
Adam Gabriel, a 5-10, 209-pound running back/fullback from Monrovia, Calif., will make his official visit to Wisconsin this weekend. And while Cooper does not recruit California, he visited Gabriel earlier this week on an in-home visit, following a visit last week from Offensive Coordinator Brian White.
It was Cooper that discovered the two-way star following his sophomore year. Gabriel's uncle is friends with Cooper, and while Cooper was the head coach at Alabama A&M, he allowed the young prospect to use the A&M facilities and evaluated him heading into his junior year.
Cooper remembered Gabriel when he moved to Wisconsin, and requested tape. The Badgers offered him a scholarship a few months ago, and now Gabriel has the Badgers in his final three, along with Colorado and Colorado State.
"I sent a highlight tape up to Wisconsin, and (Cooper) showed it to Coach White and Coach Alvarez and they said they liked it," Gabriel said. "Now they are showing me love, so it's cool.
Gabriel led Monrovia to an 11-1 seaon, with its only loss coming in the final game of the year. He ended the season with 1,193 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He also had 250 yards receiving.
Gabriel said he became known last year for his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
"I actually caught the ball a lot more last year, and kind of showcased my abilities more on the pass instead of just blocking," Gabriel said. "So many guys can run, so it got me known as a guy that can catch…when I'm running the ball, I get compared to Earl Campbell a lot, and Jerome Bettis a little bit. I can lay people out, but I can also make the first guy miss. There were a couple of chances I kind of shook some (defensive backs) out of their seat."
Gabriel took an official visit to Colorado State last weekend, and plans to make a trip to Colorado before making his final decision. He is also being recruited by Hampton (VA.) and Washington (no offer).
Gabriel played fullback his sophomore and junior seasons, before switching to tailback this season. He also played outside linebacker the majority of his career, but stopped playing defense after recording 50 tackles the first five weeks of the season.
"I sat out because I had a sprained ankle. I had 172 (yards rushing) that game, and they figured I could do more for the team if I just rested my ankle," Gabriel said. "The next week I put up 242, so I think they were onto something there."
Gabriel said academics will play a major role in his decision. He is looking into communications, business management or fire science – he would like to explore the possibility of becoming a firefighter.
Gabriel will arrive tomorrow as one of 12 visitors, the biggest recruiting weekend of the season for the Badgers.
California TB Heading to Madison
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