A Badger Attitude Adjustment

James Farrow was an athlete that thought he was the best at what he did. Former UW captain Ben Strickland changed that mindset. Although only coaching Farrow at Minnetonka (MN) High for one season, the work ethic Strickland installed in Farrow is evident, as the Division 1 offers continue to roll in.

MINNETONKA, Minn. - When James Farrow found out that former Wisconsin Badger Ben Strickland was going to be his secondary coach, Farrow didn't have to be reminded who he was or what he did during his career.

"I knew of him because he returned a fumble against the Gophers," Farrow said. "All of our players have ripped on him about it before."

Farrow only experienced Strickland's tutelage for one season, but it changed the way the 6-foot, 170-pound cornerback approached the game of football.

"He coaches me as a sophomore, which was my first year playing defensive back," Farrow told Badger Nation. "He really helped me on the mental side of things. I had a bad attitude as a player, thinking I was the best, so I didn't work as hard as I could of. Strickland really brought out the best in me by teaching me that I had to work hard and be a leader.

"We built up our relationship and we've been really close since then."

The numbers can back up the wisdom Farrow absorbed. His numbers improved on defense (33 tackles, three interceptions), on offense (29 yards per catch and two scores) and in the kick return game (14.8 average), all of which helped the Gophers take early notice of the prospect who grew up close to camps and had his father (Lonnie Farrow) be a past letterman.

Farrow committed to Minnesota right after getting offered on March 8, but switched from a firm commitment to a soft commitment weeks later, be upfront with Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove about his intentions to keep an open mind and find the perfect fit.

"Basically, I just need to find the best place for me," Farrow said. "I wanted to make sure that I am 100 percent comfortable with my commitment. There's a lot that goes into it, and it's not fair to the Gophers to not know where I stand. I wanted to be real honest about it and I just felt that it was the right place for me without giving it a lot of thought."

That closer look has Farrow examining scholarship offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State and Ole Miss as well as interest out west from UCLA and USC.

"I am pretty open right now," said Farrow, who has 10 offers, "but Wisconsin is obviously going to be one of my top places with Strickland there."

Farrow and Strickland still talk quite once or twice a week, but the topic stays on target with Strickland concerned more with Farrow improving as a player and less about his recruitment, although the Minnesota recruiter Bob Bostad and the rest of the UW coaching staff aren't shy about using Strickland as a go between.

"Strickland is one of the few college coaches that I feel that is in it for my best interest, wanting me to stay focus, humble and mentally tough when I play," Farrow said. "I know Strickland relays stuff to me from the coaches and I relay stuff through him just because we talk so much. He just wants the best for me."

That fit could be at Wisconsin, where the Badgers will graduate their top three cornerbacks and two safeties over the next two seasons and be in search for athletes to fill the void. Farrow reports a 24 on his ACT to clear his academically, and just needs to show the coaches in person what he's capable of.

"The coaches want me to come down to camp, but I am not 100 percent sure if I will be down at camp or not because I am trying to stay focused on my high school team," Farrow said. "I am going to do only three or four camps."

That team-first mentality was instilled in him by former teammate and UW commit Beau Allen. Neighbors and good friends, Allen spent the summer before his senior year focused on Minnetonka instead of the recruiting circuit, a choice Farrow admired.

"He just went about it in a good way," Farrow said. "I just want to make sure my focus is on my high school team. The way he handled the recruiting process set a really good example for me. He really put the team before himself and the excitement of the recruiting process.

"Once I take care of my team, I will take care of my decision."

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