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October 31, 2011
To put it bluntly, Wisconsin isn't a haven for U.S. Army All-American Bowl participants in comparison to other states across the country.
Perhaps that's why Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln senior linebacker Vince Biegel was so honored and ecstatic to receive his official invite Monday afternoon when the selection tour swung by his school.
"It's kind of a big deal for a Wisconsin recruit to be there," Biegel said just hours after he was presented his jersey inside his high school gym. "I'm out there kind of showcasing Wisconsin and letting them know that Wisconsin has big recruits going there.
"We're out to win a national championship."
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound four-star playmaker said it's an obvious honor to be a part of the cream of the crop in high school bowl games. Aside from being excited to play in the game itself, Biegel understands he will have an opportunity to compete against some of the best prep players in the country.
Players that have already or will commit to some of the biggest and most successful programs in the nation will be on display. Biegel, from a town of approximately 20,000 people in central Wisconsin, will be one of them.
"This can be a chance for me to see where I'm at," Biegel said. "This game will be the top 90 players in the nation. You kind of get to stack up and see where you're at individually against the top guys."
Former Badger John Clay and current Badger Josh Oglesby made the trip to Texas for the 2007 Army Bowl. Current freshman Jake Keefer, also a linebacker, played in 2010. They represent the only three players from the state of Wisconsin to play in the Army All-American game in the past five years.
"I'm always up for a great challenge," Biegel said. "I'm just excited to go to the event. I'm out there to support the U.S. Army. I'm just excited to take it all in stride and have some great coaching."
Biegel, one of Wisconsin's earliest verbal commitments in its class of 2012, will join Illinois native and fellow Badger verbal Dan Voltz during January's All-American Bowl, along with Ohio offensive lineman Kyle Dodson.
Just as he's excited to be a part of the game and all the exposure, challenges and hoopla that goes with it, Biegel is very excited to get a head start by playing with one of the guys who will wear the same collegiate jersey as him for the next four or five years.
"Me and him (Voltz) are really, really excited to be playing in it and we're on the same team," Biegel said. "I'm really excited to be playing with Dan. He's a really great guy. He's a great player.
"I'm just excited."
The four-star linebacker, ranked as the 113th best prospect in the Rivals250, has already booked his plane tickets and will travel to San Antonio on Jan. 2. Once there, he'll practice for a week and get to know his teammates and coaching staff.
The game is set for Jan 7.
Before that, though, Biegel is entirely focused on leading his high school team to a state championship. Rapids will clash with familiar foe D.C. Everest in the WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinals Friday night.
"They've got a lot of great players," Biegel said. "They're a passing team. I'm excited to come off the edge a little bit this week to take care of D.C. Everest. They're a great team and we're looking forward to playing them.
Lincoln (10-1) is currently ranked No. 10 in Wisconsin's largest division.
"We're having a really great season," Biegel said. "I've been playing with a lot of these guys for 10 years. I'm just really excited to finish it here the right way and win a state championship. We have a lot of young guys on our team.
"I'm just excited with where our team is going."
Between focusing on his next opponent and preparing for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Biegel has been paying close attention to the Badgers. Though Biegel said it's tough to see Wisconsin lose two games in the fashion it has, he insists he's still as solid as he was when he first committed to Bret Bielema's program.
"I know what kind of mindset they have in that locker room," Biegel said. "I know that they're going to bounce back. The Badgers have a great program. I know coach Bielema will get those guys going. I'm not worried.
"I'm just excited to join the program next year."
During the summer months Biegel found himself in the center of some controversy regarding comments that made it seem he wasn't as solid with Wisconsin as originally thought. Considering his father (Rocky Biegel) played at BYU, rumors started swirling when the younger Biegel said he still had contact with the Cougar program.
Biegel made it clear, though, how that was all a miscommunication.
"To be honest they kind of overreacted with all that," Biegel said. "I'm just about playing football, man. I'll let the off the field stuff take care of itself. I'm committed to Wisconsin and I'm committed for a reason."
That's why he's so excited to play in the All-American Bowl and showcase his future program on Jan. 7.