A Clear-Cut Favorite

A Clear-Cut Favorite

Wisconsin has already been Baldwin-Woodville's Jake Keefer's dream school. While it seemed natural that he would commit after the Badgers made him an offer last fall, Keefer is still listening to options, although the Badgers still rank at the top of his list.

MADISON - Growing up playing football in a little town in Northwest Wisconsin, Jake Keefer knew it was a dream to play for the Wisconsin Badgers.

Even playing at tiny Baldwin-Woodville High School, a school with an average enrollment of 450 students, Keefer's intensity on the football field and his play-making abilities he showcased during Wisconsin's summer camp was a big sign to Head Coach Bret Bielema that Keefer could play on college football biggest level.

Last October, that dream offer was extended to Keefer, and he hasn't stopping smiling since.

"It's been a dream of mind forever to play for the Badgers," Keefer told Badger Nation. "I talked to Coach Bielema after they offered me, and I just didn't know what to think."

With the Wisconsin offer, Keefer, a three-star athlete by Scout.com, hasn't been able to stay under the radar any longer, especially after recording around 90 tackles, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions and one fumble recovery for a touchdown, not to mention the 14 touchdowns he scored on offense.

Keefer played in only eight games, missing the final two games of the season after suffering a lateral meniscus tear. With his knee near 100 percent, Keefer has received scholarship offers from Indiana and Washington State, increasing interest from Illinois, Iowa and Notre Dame and mail from LSU, Tennessee and UCLA.

"We have some real good players in our conference and it shows that are some pretty good athletes and competition, even though our conference that is smaller than others," said Keefer, who played both tight end and middle linebacker last season. "I love scoring touchdowns, but I love playing linebacker, hitting people hard and competing against these teams.

"My dad was a linebacker when he was playing ball, so I've grown up doing linebacker drills in the backyard. Playing on the defensive side of the ball is what I love doing."

Offered as a linebacker, Keefer has been down to Madison for three separate games, and all with a similar result. Keefer's first visit to Camp Randall came against Northern Illinois, his first experience inside the stadium after seeing it for so many years on television.

"That atmosphere each time was insane," Keefer said. "I've watched so many games over the years, and actually being there was unbelievable."

He had so much fun that game that he came the following week to watch the Badgers beat Fresno State in double overtime. Keefer also made time to come to the Michigan game on Senior Day. Three games, three wins.

"They've won every game I've come to," Keefer said. "It'd be perfect if I could be the mascot since I guess I am good luck."

Perhaps Keefer was also the main reason the Wisconsin basketball team stormed back from a 16-point deficit to beat Penn State in overtime. He was there that day, as well, taking in a private junior day with the Wisconsin coaches and Kenosha Bradford running back Melvin Gordon, the only other junior in the state to have received an offer from Wisconsin at this point.

"They had a special junior day for us and we went there for a game," Keefer said. "The coaches said they weren't going to invite us to the normal junior day because they wanted to give us some one-on-one time. It was pretty cool because it was just us and we were like VIPs. We got to see all the offices, meeting rooms and watch some film with Coach Doeren. It was just a good day overall.

"Right now, Wisconsin is on a totally different level than all the other schools," he added. There's something about playing for your home state. I just have a connection with the coaching staff, which is why Wisconsin is number one right now."

Although he has nearly pulled the trigger before, Keefer is planning on making his decision between in late March and early April to see what other opportunities come his way.

"I've just been waiting because now that 2010 is over, recruiting is starting to pick up," Keefer said. "I just want to see what other schools have to offer."

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