Brandon Hoey let out a sigh.
The University of Wisconsin football program’s 11th verbal commitment for the class of 2006 was being asked why he felt the Badgers were the best choice for him.
Hoey’s voice sounded as if he was reliving the wearisome, trying process he had just recently completed.
Sometimes, amidst the excitement that often surrounds commitments, it is easy to lose track of how monumental the decision can be for the young man who is making it.
Hoey’s sighs, a prelude to the false starts in conversation that followed, illuminated this feature.
Less this be taken the wrong way, Hoey, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive line prospect from Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, Minn., is far from wavering on his commitment.
“It just took me a while to get there, but as of right now I’m 100 percent positive that I want to go to Wisconsin,” Hoey said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.
It is just that the decision clearly was not an easy one to make.
Hoey wanted to make up his mind before his senior season began, but as that time approached six schools were still tugging away at him. Wisconsin, Iowa State, Minnesota, Colorado, Arkansas and Nebraska — six of his 10 scholarship offers — all held characteristics he liked.
“Then slowly I’ve been narrowing down with my parents,” Hoey said.
Eventually, it came down to Wisconsin and Iowa State.
“The absolute last finalist was Iowa State,” Hoey said. “Between Iowa State and Wisconsin it was really hard for me to decide. It was really, really hard.”
“It was incredibly difficult,” he said. “If it was not for my parents, I’d have a hard time. Because I was going between Iowa State and Wisconsin; I could not make my mind up between those two right away. And they just helped me sit down, find the things I liked about each one the most and we went from there.”
In the end, what put Wisconsin ahead?
“There’s just something inside of me that made me feel like Wisconsin was better,” Hoey said. “Because both the schools are good academically. Both of them have a good football program. Both of them aren’t that far away, which is just a plus. It didn’t make that big a difference, but it’s a plus… It’s sort of hard to explain.”
Hoey’s initial response to the question — Why Wisconsin? — was short and sweet.
“I just felt it was the best school for me,” he said.
For some, the choice boils down to location, or style of play, or academics, or a comfort level with a coach. Hoey articulated his decision in a more esoteric, but exceptionally sincere, fashion.
“Everything about the school is good,” Hoey said. “It really just came down to the overall feeling. And it’s the one that I felt was best for me. I don’t know. It’s hard to put in any other terms than that.”
A three-star prospect and the No. 61 ranked player in the Midwest, according to Scout.com, Hoey had 12 sacks as a junior last season. During Mounds View’s 3-0 start to this campaign, Hoey has 12 tackles, two assists, two sacks, six tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, one pass deflection and a blocked extra point.
“Those aren’t the best numbers, but they’re good considering I’m getting double and triple teamed every play,” Hoey said.
Hoey said he is receiving far more attention from opponents than he did a year ago, which he partially attributed to the recognition he has received as a highly recruited player.
“The other team knows who I am,” he said. “They know that they have to stick extra people on me, which it really doesn’t bother me because that frees up the linebackers just to get right up in there and overall make our team better.”
Hoey plays strongside defensive end in a 3-5 scheme, but also will play weakside end or nose tackle. He said he was not sure whether he will play defensive tackle or defensive end at Wisconsin.