Gilbert: "UW is a great fit for me"

Although born and raised an Iowa Hawkeye fan, Brookfield Central defensive lineman Bryce Gilbert will find himself lining up against his childhood favorite, as the up-and-coming prospect gave his verbal commitment to Wisconsin's 2010 class. Gilbert talks with Badger Nation about his decision and his future.

Badger Nation: First, congratulations on your verbal commitment to the University of Wisconsin. You had other scholarship offers on the table and were garnering more interest as the weeks went on. What made you decide to pull the trigger and gave UW your verbal commitment?

Gilbert: I just felt that Wisconsin was the best fit for me. There might be other offers coming. I don't know. I had offers from Indiana, Northern Iowa, Eastern Illinois and Illinois State, but I just felt that Wisconsin is just a great fit for me.

Badger Nation: You said it was the right fit for you. What made you decide on Wednesday that Wisconsin was the right fit in order for you to make that decision? Did you wake up and feel UW was the right place or was it something else that led to that big decision?

Gilbert: I don't know. I just like it there. It's got the program and the academics which I want to go into, which is agriculture. I met with the dean there, who explained things very well. He explained what classes I need to take. Plus, you have the athletics on top of that. I just felt that was all pretty great.

Badger Nation: What was the reaction of the coaching staff when you told them and who did you tell?

Gilbert: When I told them and saw most of them, they were very happy. I told Coach Bielema, and then I walked over to Coach Partridge, the defensive line coach, who was there and told him. It was really quiet in the office over there, so the word spread quickly and a lot of coaches came up to me and said how happy they were, including my recruiting coach, Coach Bostad.

Badger Nation: What kind of feedback has the coaching staff given you? Obviously they think pretty highly of you to offer you a scholarship, but what were some of things Coach Bielema, Coach Bostad and Coach Partridge really like that you do?

Gilbert: Coach Partridge said he really liked my powerful get off, the way I get off the line of scrimmage and attack. He said it's great how I do that. Coach Bielema, a defensive lineman himself, said I had a natural sway in my back that just screamed defensive lineman. When he was telling me this, my jaw dropped to the floor because I never ever thought I would be talking to the head coach of Wisconsin.

Badger Nation: Talking to Doug Lange, your head coach at Brookfield Central, he said you were a good player in JV, but you hit the weight room that summer and you became a great player. Can you talk about that hard work and dedication and how that work ethic has given you this opportunity for a successful college career?

Gilbert: What really helped me were the seniors above me. There were so many seniors that were great leaders and this was the year that we had more than four captains. We had six captains. The coaches didn't want to favor anybody, so the team picked who they wanted as captains. The captains pushed everybody. They wanted to win. They wanted to be successful and they made everybody feel like that, including me. They influenced me to be a better player.

There were leaders that were starters and there were leaders that were not starters, and I think that's the best kind of football team. You had these starters and great leaders, and these guys who aren't the starters, who don't really see the field a lot, who cheer and make the noise that motivate us. I really give the credit to the seniors.

Badger Nation: You mention what Coach Partridge and Coach Bielema really like about you. When you look in the mirror, what do you think that you do well? What are some of the strong attributes that you bring to the table that Wisconsin fans can look forward to seeing from you?

Gilbert: I think that I have a really quick reaction time. When I see that ball move, I am off the line. I don't care what's in front of me, I am going to hit it and I am going to make a play off of it. That's the kind of mindset that you have to have as a defensive linemen, that people have to watch out for you. You also have to be a team player. You know that you have to hold this gap because that's my job and if I do my job and everybody else does there job, the defense works. If I can take up two blockers, that leaves the linebacker unguarded to make the big play. I think I have both of those mentalities in me.

Badger Nation: You've had a lot of good players at Brookfield Central over the years go to Wisconsin. You can go back to Joe Thomas and Ben Strickland to current players like Bradley Nortman. How does it feel to be the next person to represent the school at Wisconsin?

Gilbert: It feels great, but I don't want to compare myself to them because they were all great players. I haven't done anything with Wisconsin yet. I know I committed, but I haven't played there. It feels cool that I can add my name to that list, but I don't want to say that I have earned it yet until I can show what I can do.

Badger Nation: So we should wait five years before we can compare you to Joe Thomas?

Gilbert: Yeah, kind of (laughs). That would be nice. I mean, Joe Thomas is a stud. He is an amazing player.

Badger Nation: Lastly, what aspect of the program are you most looking forward to doing? Is it that first practice, getting on campus, signing your letter?

Gilbert: I am looking forward to focusing on football all year long. Nothing but football. I do three sports right now. I am a wrestler and I do track. I don't get the focus in football that I would like. I think I can get much bigger if I wasn't doing the other sports, but I love doing the other sports that I do. It would be focusing on football and just being in training is what I am anxious to be apart of.

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