Removing the Bulls-Eye

With dreams of playing college football at the next level, Waunakee (Wis.) lineman Jake Irwin decided to take action. Penciling out his summer camp schedule, Irwin decided to make Wisconsin a last-minute stop on his camp tour, a decision that turned out to be wise choice.

WAUNAKEE, Wis. - Jake Irwin had no problem flying under the radar.

Finishing his sophomore season at Waunakee High School, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Irwin was never worried about college recruiting, or anything else for that matter. The only thing important to Irwin was hanging out with his friends and doing some lineman camps with his teammates.

But with aspirations to play college football at the next level and having no scholarship offers, Irwin decided it was time to take action, attending his first camp in Madison last week, a mere 15 minutes from his house.

"I just wanted to stay off the (recruiting) scene," Irwin told Badger Nation. "I didn't want everybody to have a bulls-eye on me. I guess that's kind of off now."

Becoming a verbal commitment to the University of Wisconsin will do that to a kid, as Irwin's performance during the three days earned him the right to become the Badgers' fifth verbal commitment and fourth from the Badger State in the 2010 recruiting class.

An offensive lineman that has started the last two years, Irwin, who earned All-Northern Badger first-team honors as a junior and honorable mention as a sophomore, had planned on going to Northern Illinois for a day, was going to try to go to Minnesota for day and thought about going to Michigan for a camp.

When Irwin found out that there weren't going to be many coaches at the Michigan camp, Irwin changed his mind, deciding to drive to Madison and perform for the Wisconsin coaching staff.

"Coach Bielema was watching me a lot and telling me I was doing a good job during one-on-one drills," Irwin said. "Coach Partridge kept telling me the entire time to keep up the good work. Bielema told me that I got better after every practice. Even after being tired and sore, they said I was improving after every practice."

With that thought process going through the head coach's head, it was no surprise that the fourth-year Wisconsin coach was so quick to offer. After camp, Waunakee head coach Pat Rice got a call from Bielema that told Rice that the Badgers wanted to talk to Irwin Tuesday and offer him a scholarship.

Once Rice told Irwin Monday night, it was a restless, yet exciting, night, as the morning couldn't come quick enough. At 8:05 a.m., Irwin called Bielema, received the scholarship offer and committed before he hung up.

"It is an amazing thing to get offered by the UW," Irwin said. "When he actually offered me, I knew that I wanted to commit right away. I've always wanted to be a Badger and I wanted to play college football. Both things are what I really wanted to do."

Being projected to play defensive end in Wisconsin's 4-3 scheme, Irwin was a second-string defensive lineman for the Warriors, a role that he expects to see increase this upcoming season.

Described as an oversized, athletic kid, Irwin has been compared to a young Gabe Carimi; a humbling comparison from Irwin's perspective.

"That's an awesome compliment, to be compared to a starter on UW's o-line," Irwin said. "I think that could be an accurate comparison. I never saw him play in high school because I was a freshman when he graduated. My coach says he was athletic for his size and I think I am, as well."

Entering his senior season with no other camps or visits scheduled, Irwin's sole focus is getting ready for his senior football season, which got a big boost when he committed right away. Not having to worry about college or anything else, Irwin can go back to hanging with his friends, with the bulls-eye, once again, off his back for now.

"I am a local kid, I live 15 minutes away and when people have a connection to players that are playing the game, I think that's the coolest thing," Irwin said. "When I see Carimi play, that kid plays 30 minutes away from me and we played him in high school. I find that really awesome to watch and makes me real excited to be apart of this program."


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