Power of the People

Although he'll have a chance to compete for playing time when his knee is fully healthy, Cypress Bay lineman Joe McNamara committed to the University of Wisconsin on Saturday because of the people he'll be playing for and dealing with over his career in Madison.

MADISON - With Wisconsin set to open spring camp without four of its top five defensive tackles from the 2009 season - losing senior starters Dan Moore and Jeff Stehle and senior reserves Dan Cascone and Jordan Hein to graduation - it was an emphasize for the Badgers coaching staff to bring in young, talented players to compete.

Brookfield Central's Bryce Gilbert and Minnetonka's Beau Allen were two parts of the equation and Cypress Bay's Joe McNamara is the third, but the Weston, Florida, native didn't become the Badgers 24th verbal commitment for the 2010 class because he was promised early playing time.

Although he was born and raised in Florida, McNamara's parents are Iowa farm kids with the same Midwest values threaded throughout the Wisconsin coaching staff. When McNamara took his official visit to Madison over the weekend, those values and the people are what sold him on the program.

"Hands down, it was the people," McNamara told Badger Nation Sunday. "Not only the coaches, but the players and the community itself are great. I feel like I can really fit in there and that they are my kind of people. I am definitely well connected to my roots in the Midwest. It'll be exciting to play in the Midwest where my family is and see people that I don't get to see very much."

Once a former Stanford verbal commitment, McNamara choose Wisconsin Saturday night over offers from Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Marshall. McNamara was treated to an in-home visit by Head Coach Bret Bielema and Defensive Line Coach Charlie Partridge late last week and was hosted on his official visit by defensive tackle Patrick Butyrm, the long returning d-tackle starter from last season.

"The campus itself is beautiful, there's so much to do and the community that is behind the program and the university is tremendous," McNamara said. "Having that support definitely makes you want to play with pride.

To be able to get the chance to play at Wisconsin, it's definitely a great and fortunate opportunity for me to get."

While getting the chance to bond with his future lineman was important, it was his connection with his recruiting coach and defensive line coach that was a big factor in picking Wisconsin.

"Charlie Partridge is the whole package," McNamara said. "He's not just a football coach, but he's a father away from home. He cares about his players as well as football." Tearing his ACL roughly a week before his senior season started, forcing McNamara to sit out his entire senior season, the Wisconsin coaching staff was never worried about the injury, and was more than pleased to know his rehab is ahead of schedule.

"The doctor that did my surgery was the team doctor for Wisconsin awhile back," McNamara said. "The doctors said that it used to be a career-ending injury, but with the updates in medicine and technology, the injury is just a setback. They were never concerned with my knee or the ability to play at the caliber I was at before."

Although he committed to Stanford as a center and played mostly guard (where he's ranked 29th in the country by Scout.com) for his high school, McNamara is starting to get in the mindset of a defensive tackle and that will to win.

"I am a little nervous, but I am definitely up to the challenge," McNamara said. "It's something new, something fresh and gives you a chance to re-learn a new technique and see what life is like on the other side of the ball."

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