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MADISON - How under the radar of a prospect was Lake Villa (IL) Lakes Community’s T.J. Edwards? Considering his high school football Twitter account tweeted out his decision to flip to Wisconsin five days before anybody caught wind of it says it all.
“A few weeks ago I didn’t have anything, and I was committed to Western Michigan,” Edwards told Badger Nation. “I didn’t want anyone to think anything else because I was firm on Western. Once (Wisconsin) offered, it was really something I couldn’t ignore.”
The fourth high school senior to commit to the program in the past week, Edwards became the sixth prospect to flip to Wisconsin in the 2014 recruiting cycle, and likely the most unexpected commit.
Edwards picked Western Michigan over offers from Toledo and Wyoming in June, and was planning on heading to the MAC until about three weeks ago. It was then that tight end coach Jeff Genyk started showing interest and Edwards sent him his senior film. That led to a scholarship offer being extended Nov.24 and an unofficial visit on Nov.26.
“He was really honest about where I stood with them,” said Edwards. “Once I sent them my film, things escalated very quickly.”
Once the 6-2, 215-pound Edwards met with all the coaches, the strength and conditioning staff and saw the campus, he needed less than 24 hours to make his commitment switch.
“It’s Big Ten football,” he said. “It doesn’t get much bigger than that. I knew this was a big opportunity that I couldn’t let go by.”
Not only was Edwards impressed with the program, people and the facilities, he was also impressed by the school’s academics.
“That really was a huge part,” said Edwards, who wants to major in kinesiology. “It’s really a strong thing for me and my family that we like to focus on. I think there’s more of an academic opportunity for me at Wisconsin.”
Edwards is the third projected linebacker in the 2014 recruiting class, joining Rohan Blackwood and Dominic Cizauskas, and will start as an interior weak-side linebacker.
“I think they see an athletic, bigger-build guy to play linebacker,” said Edwards. “I think they like my athletic ability and lateral movement. I think Wisconsin football is really physical, especially the defense. The defense this year was outstanding, and I think coach Aranda is a fun blitzer guy, always having guys flying around and not knowing where they are coming from. It just seems like a fun defense for me to be a part of.”
Helping lead his team to third consecutive North Suburban Conference Prairie Division title, Edwards played quarterback and safety his senior year, registering over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns despite suffering a broken finger on his throwing hand and a torn right meniscus that cost him the final four games of his season.
Edwards said he will officially visit January 17 and enroll in the summer.
“Wisconsin Badgers football is always really rich with tradition,” said Edwards. “They are traditionally in the top 25 in the nation. If anything, I want to go there and not having any decrease (in production). I want to keep them on the upswing. I want to bring the program up.”