With its 2012 scholarship class nearly full and its 2013 class again expected to be small, the coaches at the University of Wisconsin
have already started identifying players to hopefully fill a 2014 class that is expected to end up in the mid 20s.
One of those players is Galion (OH) High School athlete Dareian Watkins, who made his first trip to Madison last Saturday on an unofficial visit for Wisconsin's 62-17 victory against Purdue.
During his first experience of going to the player's lounge to eat, Watkins and his family got to meet tight end coach and recruiting coordinator Joe Rudolph. As usual, Rudolph made quite an impression.
"It was quite the experience because coach Joe Rudolph came up to address me and made a connection with me," Watkins told Badger Nation Sunday. "That was pretty cool. He talked to me about my football season, my grades and told me to stay humble. It was a great experience overall."
Watkins has been to four campuses for a game day experience, including Ohio State's opener against Akron, and had no problems listing the experience as a 10 out of 10.
"It was definitely right up there with Ohio State," Watkins said of UW's atmosphere. "The atmosphere was crazy. We got there about three hours before the game and the fans were all over. The streets were crowded (and) all the houses around campus had students partying before the game. It was pretty cool."
The true definition of an athlete for Galion, playing quarterback, wide receiver, running back, safety, kick and punt return over the last two season, Watkins had over 1,300 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns to go along with roughly 600 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He led his team to an 8-2 record.
"It was kind of difficult to pass a lot because we have one of the top running backs in Ohio (junior David Nay)," Watkins said. "The season was very exciting compared to last year, and I think everyone was happy with the way we performed as a team."
With so many positions he's able to play, Watkins said only Kent State has pegged him at a safety position, but most schools have viewed him as a multidimensional athlete. In terms of Wisconsin, the coaches are hoping to get a better idea of Watkins skill range when he comes up to one of their high school camps this summer.
"Coach Rudolph said he's going to keep his eyes on me for a couple years and that he's going to make it down to my school in December to talk to my teachers about me," Watkins said. "He hopes that I can make it down to one of their camps this summer. They are the biggest school on me right now."
Watkins admits being an Ohio State fan because it's his whole family's favorite team and the first game his dad ever took him to after he was adopted. Still, Watkins plans to go through the process and will keep himself busy over the next three weekends.
"This weekend we're going to Cincinnati, the following weekend we are going to the Ohio State-Penn State game and then the Georgia-Georgia Tech game," Watkins said. "These next three weeks are going to be crazy."
When he's not traveling to campuses, expect to find Watkins in some weight room somewhere.
"I am starting with my own workout schedule and my parents got me some personnel trainers to help me with speed and strength," Watkins said. "I need to improve on different things and get my speed better. I don't know everything yet, and I want to get down the basics and the mechanics. It's going to be a pretty busy offseason for me."
One of the top young athletes in the state of Ohio, Galion (OH) High School sophomore Dareian Watkins took his first visit to Wisconsin Saturday for the Badgers 45-point victory over Purdue.