Southward Becomes Lucky 19

With Florida prospect Conor O'Neil changing his Wisconsin committment, the Badgers go back into Florida and add the verbal commitment of athlete Dezmen Southward, a young talent with plenty of upside, to the Class of 2009.

MADISON – Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is renowned for his popular phrase "Next Man In," used to signify that whenever someone gets injured, his replacement better be ready to go.

When Florida defensive tackle Conor O'Neal decommitted from Wisconsin last Friday, Badgers assistant coach Charlie Partridge knew exactly who to turn to next.

Taking his official visit to Madison this past weekend, Dezmen Southward, rated as a two-star safety by, gave his verbal commitment to Wisconsin's 2009 class, becoming the 19th verbal commitment in the Badgers' class.

"It was great," said Southward to about his visit to Wisconsin this past weekend. "I loved everything about Madison."

A teammate of linebacker of Conor O'Neill, who committed to Wisconsin on October 6, Southward (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) has only been playing football for one season, but has plenty of upside. Recruited as an athlete by Wisconsin, Southward, who also is a standout basketball player, has a 40-inch vertical and has been clocked running a 4.39 40 time.

"Playing basketball I was pretty much always the aggressor so the only adjustment I had to make on the football field was just stop being so nice and just go hit somebody," Southward told the Web site. "It wasn't so much the physical part with me, it was just stop being so nice."

Helping his team win the Class 5A Florida State Championship in 2008, Southward finished the season with 20 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Southward picked Wisconsin, who was his favorite since the Badgers offered him in mid January, over offers from Connecticut and Syracuse and high interest from Tennessee.

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