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February 1, 2012MADISON - One of Bret Bielema's preferences when it comes to his annual signing day press conference is to highlight his incoming recruits with a video of some of their top plays.
During those 15 minutes worth of clips, Bielema likes to tout why and what brought each individual recruit to his program. Wednesday's announcement of the 2012 class was no different.
Here is what Bielema had to say about his 12 new scholarship players.
Bielema on linebacker Vince Biegel: "He's an in-state product. His dad, Rocky, was a great player at BYU. Vince comes to us from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids. He's got great instincts and an ability to flow to the ball. He has a little bit of aggression when he gets there. He's a big, rangy kid, that can probably play both inside and outside. He just moves really well and has a high motor. He's a great kid that has come to our camp. I actually offered him last year after his junior year in our high school camp having gotten awfully excited about him. He's a guy we're very, very impressed with and we can't wait for him.
Bielema on defensive back Hugs Etienne: "Hugs comes to us from South Plantation high school (FL). Actually the first two kids I ever signed from South Plantation were both NFL players, one of which is still playing in Colin Cole. He played for the Packers. He's able to come up and react. He's got great instincts and really does a nice job at the line of scrimmage. He's aggressive. We'll start him off at the corner position. He's currently on campus and I think this will be a big semester for him.
Bielema on defensive tackle Arthur Goldberg: "He's a Pittsburgh kid. When coach Paul Chryst left he actually hired his high school coach to his staff at Pitt. Naturally I was a little worried about him staying with us. He stayed through and didn't waver one bit. He came in during high school camp. Coach Charlie Partridge worked with him and had an opportunity to be hands on with him. He loved the campus and loved everything about it. He joined us shortly thereafter when we offered and has been a great commit to us. He gets off and does a nice job running to the football. He likes contact and comes down the line of scrimmage. He gets after people a little bit. You can see with his hands that he's got good hands and good movement. He's a go to work guy."
Bielema on quarterback Bart Houston: "To put things into perspective, Bart has been a three-year starter at De La Salle (CA) where he lost one game in three years as a starter. If he carries that forward here we're going to be in good shape. He's a very, very accurate passer. He comes from a traditional team that really runs the football. He really exploded once he went to some camps that allowed him to show his ability to throw the football. He has the ability to get the ball down the field with some accuracy.
Another point with Bart. He committed to us last spring, shortly after our spring game. He probably had about 30-40 offers and had been to 20 schools. Bart and his mom came and visited us during spring ball and he fell in love with the school and how we do things. When there was a transition there wasn't a waver in any way. He didn't visit any schools and he didn't talk to another program. I went out and visited him shortly after the Rose Bowl. Then I hired Matt Canada (offensive coordinator) and he went and visited him. Then Bart came in this last weekend and it's just another great example of what a Wisconsin kid is all about, even though he's from the San Francisco area.
Bielema on running back Vonte Jackson: "He's from a great program. He unfortunately tore his knee up, an ACL, during the first game of his senior year. He has the ability to break some tackles and make some people miss. He's very, very fast. He's a guy we were impressed with in camp going back two years ago. Obviously with Melvin Gordon here we went to a few of his games. We saw Vonte during his junior year. He's exceptional. He's a great character and a great kid. He comes from a great family. I really think he's going to be another addition in the long history of our great running backs here at Wisconsin. He never gives up. He's a tremendous competitor."
Bielema on wide receiver Reggie Love: "He's kind of a neat story. He comes from Spanish River high school (FL). Charlie Partridge and I have known his head coach for a long time. He's sent a lot of players to Miami during his heyday. Reggie is actually a guy that has only played football for a year and a half. He's 6-foot-3 and all of 200 pounds. He's a big wide receiver who took up the game just recently. He has great ball skills and is a tremendous athlete. He runs really well. He's a really aggressive kid. He's not someone you naturally think of as a basketball player. He shows a little bit of a burst and his ability to get away from people. He'll go up and get the ball at its highest point and then he takes off with it. Those aren't slow guys he's running away from down there in Florida.
Bielema on offensive lineman Jake Meador: "This is a nice addition to the class. Jake actually comes from us from the Whiteland community in Indiana. He was actually committed to Ole Miss, where Mike Markuson, our new offensive line coach, was at. When the transition happened there he kind of opened it back up. I know he visited Florida, Missouri, Indiana and then came our way. It's a true credit to our kids. Jake was probably headed to Florida before the weekend. He visited this past weekend. I think both of his parents were pretty assured of that, but Jake kind of keeps it close to the vest. On Saturday you just saw him lighten up. He was a lot of smiles. Saturday night at dinner was really good. He came back and then today picked us over Florida and Missouri. That shows the impact Madison and the kids have during the recruiting process. It wasn't anything coming out of our mouths. It was his time here on campus.
"You'll see a big body. He'll probably need to come in. We'll get him trimmed up a little bit, but he's a highly recruited kid, who once he gets after you he stays after you. He's very aggressive and I really like what he brings to the table. He gets up to the second level and he's light on his feet. I think he's something that is really going to grow into something special.
Bielema on defensive back Reggie Mitchell: "He's a young man out of the Pittsburgh area. He played quarterback and a little bit of defense. We got him in camp and we're going to play him on defense. You're going to see he's very athletic and very agile. He's a tremendous student. Shady Side is a real small private school that stresses the academics and the importance of doing things right in the Pittsburgh area. He's a really nice find for us. He's a great kid. Again, with the transition he never waffled one bit. He stayed in full. It was life as a Badger no matter what was going on and I think he'll truly be rewarded because of it. He's good enough on offense that I might sneak him in there on a few plays."
Bielema on athlete Leo Musso: "He's going to probably come in - - he may come in during the fall, but he'll for sure be with us next January - - but he'll be with us this summer. We're going to really try and see where he is at. I'm thinking there might be the possibility that he plays the safety position, but he's also done a really good job at running back. I'm really, really happy to have him in our program. He shows his athletic ability and burst. He's one of Waunakee's most physical kids and a guy we're excited to get in."
Bielema on safety D.J. Singleton: "He's a kid out of New Jersey. We're trying to open it back up there on the east coast. Coach Thomas Hammock did a nice job with D.J. He comes up and he's very aggressive. He's a guy that likes to fill the alley and bring the contact. He has the ability to run and eye the football while making a good, solid fundamental tackle. He's a guy we're very impressed with. His athleticism and ability to run made him a highly recruited kid.
Bielema on offensive lineman Dan Voltz: "The thing I love about Dan is he plays the game the way we love to play it. He's very aggressive. He gets on people and he tries to finish you to the ground. If not, he does so a long way away from the play. I think the tradition our offensive line has really drew Dan here. Before Dan had got on campus I hadn't even hired an offensive line coach yet. I think that shows the trust and the faith that he had in what we're doing and what we're going to continue to do. I've been very pleased.
Bielema on offensive lineman Walker Williams: "He's another offensive lineman. I really think Walker found us after being out to the Rose Bowl a year ago. He's from Tacoma (WA) Baptist. I know I've never been in there as a recruiter. It's kind of a little school in Tacoma. Walker is a big, athletic giant. They call him the dancing bear. Apparently he loves to dance at all-star games. He is a fun-loving guy that loves to get after it. He might be a redshirt guy that we reform a little bit. But his energy, his tenacity and his athleticism is very, very apparent. He's a guy I think we're all excited to be a part of.
BIELEMA'S COMMENTS ON THE WALK-ONS:
Bielema on defensive end Trent Denlinger: "He's a defensive end out of Cuba City (WI) that we've had in camp the last couple of years. We only took one scholarship defensie lineman so it was important for us to fill that roster with some quality walk-ons."
Bielema on wide receiver Alex Erickson: "He's a wide receiver from Darlington (WI). He's a big guy, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, that kind of reminds you of Jared Abbrederis. He might be able to come in and not only play wide receiver but maybe a couple other positions."
Bielema on tight end Matt Prell: "He's a tight end out of Kenosha Bradford (WI). Again, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, that we think with our developmental program will be able to grow."
Bielema on linebacker Jake Rademacher: "We only had one scholarship linebacker and Jake was a guy we were evaluating for that. Jake is out of Kettle Moraine (WI), but even though they didn't have the best win-loss record he played his tail off. I think he was voted the league defensive MVP on a team that didn't have a lot of win-loss success."
Bielema on kicker Jack Russell: "He will come in and be our kicker from Waunakee. Jack has done a tremendous job. He's only been kicking for the past couple of years so he's at the relatively early stages of his football career. We're really excited to have him with us."
Bielema on defensive end Logan Schmidt: "He's another kid out of Richland Center (WI). If this one works out half as good as the last kid from Richland Center we'll all be doing good. It's Bradie Ewing's former high school. When I asked Bradie what he knew about Logan he goes, 'Coach, he's country strong.' I don't know what that means, but it was a positive in Bradie's mind.
Bielema on tight end Alex Walker: "He's a kid out of Nicolet (WI). I think he'll fit in to that program and the way we do things."