It's hard to say whether Bielema thought Rudolph would have made a recruiting impact this earlier into his Wisconsin tenure, as the 36-year-old is earning his paycheck for UW.
Of the Badgers 18 verbal commitments, five have been recruited by Rudolph, including four recruits from the state of Ohio. That success could determine whether the Badgers get a fifth Buckeye to come to Madison, this time in the form of Trotwood (Ohio) offensive tackle Chris Freeman.
A three-star recruit and the 37th-ranked offensive tackle by Scout.com, Freeman, listed at 6-foot-7 and 325 pounds, was once far off the UW radar, as schools like Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Tennessee and West Virginia were high on Freeman's favorite list, as the Badgers were in a clump with dozens of other scholarship offers.
But as Rudolph continued to recruit the state and get commitments, Freeman took notice, especially since the Ohio kids coming to Wisconsin are some of his closest friends.
"I have been real good friends with Jeff Duckworth and Brian Wozniak since the seventh grade and they've been telling me all the great things about Wisconsin and the coaches, especially Coach Rudolph," Freeman said. "I have a great relationship with those guys and we've goon through a lot of the process together."
Part of that process was visiting Madison in the summer on an unofficial visit with Duckworth, Wozniak and fellow Wisconsin commit Chris Borland. Freeman's relationship with Duckworth and Wozniak got beyond the football field, however, as the Ohio trio has played on the same AAU basketball team over the past four summers.
"It was a fun trip with those guys and it makes me really excited to take my official visit in a couple of weeks," Freeman said. "It'll be a lot of fun if I end up committing to Wisconsin because Jeff (Duckworth) and I are probably going to be roommates, which will be a lot of fun."
In addition to visiting Wisconsin, Freeman recently visited Tennessee and will most likely travel to Michigan again in the coming weeks before making his decision. With the Rudolph has been recruiting the state, his friends and him over the past couple weeks, Wisconsin appears to be the front runners for another top Ohio high school product.
"Coach Rudolph has been doing a great job locking up the state (of Ohio)," Freeman said. "It shows he knows what he is doing and how great of a job he's done building relationships with all the players. Coach Rudolph is a real great guy."