Fitting the Criteria

With Wisconsin searching for the next great tight end to fit into its offensive system, the Badgers hosted Alex Smith, one of the top tight ends in the country, over the weekend. From his stats, Smith fits the bill and by what transpired during his visit, it seems the Badger coaches feel the same way.

MADISON - For the past few season, the Wisconsin Badgers have thrown to their tight ends more than any other team in the country. Paul Chryst incorporates them into the offense and uses them as a weapon, rather than just a safety valve when there is no other place to throw the football.

While the Badgers continue to turn out NFL prospects at the tight end position, they continue to search for tight ends to come to Madison and become stars.

Alex Smith (Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio) has become the top target at tight end for the Badgers in the class of 2010. Ranked as the number 10 tight end in the country by, Smith has offers from around the country including Wisconsin, Miami (FL), LSU, North Carolina, Cincinnati and Penn State.

While Smith committed to the University of Cincinnati early in the process, he has backed off of that commitment and is taking a long look around for the best opportunity. Coach Rudolph has been recruiting Smith for the Badgers and was able to get him on campus last weekend for an official visit.

In his second visit to Madison in the last few months, Smith was able to see more than he saw the first time. "We got to Madison around noon on Saturday," Smith told Badger Nation. "We got there and went out to lunch with the other recruits that were there. We got to go around campus before the game. We went to the stadium and let me tell you, they feed you well while you are there. We just went back and got to watch the game. I sat with my mom for half the game and then with the other kids who were on officials in the student section."

While watching the game, the Badgers' fans made a great impression on the highly ranked tight end. "It was crazy because the fans there were like nothing else I have ever seen," Smith said. "It was great. The game day environment was just crazy. You know what, as far as visits go, I would probably say a 9 (out of 10)."

While in Madison, Smith was able to talk with a lot of the players and get a feel for the team. "After the game, my host was Jeff Duckworth," Smith explained. "He actually played in my conference. When I came to Madison earlier in the summer, that is who I was with. Me, him, and Brian Wozniak just got to go around town and had a good time. We got to hang out with a lot of the guys, which meant a lot to me because those are who your teammates could be and could possibly play with."

Smith didn't only get a chance to know the team, but also the Badger coaching staff. "I met with Coach B and had a long meeting," Smith said. "We talked for about 45 minutes. I thought it was a pretty good visit. Coach B was just saying how good of a fit I would be and that it is the place to be for tight ends. You are going to catch a lot of balls. He just told me how much as a person I match up with the team and as a player I fit in perfectly with the offense."

Smith also got a better feel for other coaches as well as Coach Bielema. "Coach Rudolph is a real good guy. He has been my recruiting coordinator and he would also be my position coach," Smith explained. "I got a good feel for him and Coach B was a great guy. We got to talk a lot and he just thinks I would fit in well. He pretty much told me I was their number one guy and they were holding off on everyone else. They expressed to me how much they would love to have me there."

While on the visit, Smith got to show Madison to his mother, who was unable to come on the unofficial earlier in the summer. "She seemed to like it a lot and pretty much had the same reaction I had," Smith said.

Both the team and the Badger players were able to make an impression on the young tight end. "The game was definitely my favorite, but you know what, just getting to be with the players," Smith said. "Just meeting with them and seeing how they felt about going there, that really meant a lot to me. I sat down with Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks for a while, got to meet up with them. Then I was with Wozniak. I had actually met him before, my mom knows his dad. You know I got to hang out with them in the dorms and everything. It was pretty good."

So where does Smith go from here? "I think I am just going to UNC for an official," Smith said. "I think I will then decide to either stay at UC, or go to UNC or Wisconsin. It just depends if my mom wants me to go check out any other places down south like LSU or anything. Those are the main three, though."

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