Academics played a big role in T.J. Bollers' commitment to Wisconsin
The Badgers landed arguably their top remaining target in the 2021 class on Thursday with a commitment from T.J. Bollers.
And while assistant Bobby April deserves a lot of recognition as the future position coach and lead contact in Bollers' recruitment, some professors in the engineering department at UW also deserve some credit.
"The academics were a big deal and I did a lot of research on that," Bollers told BadgerBlitz.com. "Last time I checked, Wisconsin's engineering program was top 15 in the country, and there are football players who are actually able to do that and play at a high level.
"I was able to talk with guys who have either done it or are currently doing it right now, so it's not just lip service at Wisconsin. The academic and athletic combination was huge."
Bollers, the No. 98 prospect in the 2021 class, camped with the Badgers in June, visited twice in the fall and returned to Madison on March 1 for a junior day. He is the 14th known commitment in UW's junior recruiting class.
"Wisconsin really fit all the criteria that I had for my decision," Bollers said. "Wisconsin has a great campus, an established football program and a top 15 engineering school. So just going off all those things, Wisconsin was the best fit me.
"It's exciting and kind of nerve-racking to have now made my decision. Being at this for so long - it really started my freshman year - I saw some amazing places and met some great people, and I don't take that for granted. Having it come to a close is really exciting and I can't wait to see what the future holds."
A four-star prospect, Bollers chose Wisconsin over offers from Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Washington, among others. He will have a chance to work at outside linebacker when he arrives in Madison.
"I'm really excited about that, honestly," Bollers said. "When I talk with Coach April, he sees me playing like T.J. Watt played for Wisconsin. That's not a comparison that's saying I'm going to be T.J. Watt at Wisconsin, but I'll play a role similar to that. I'm excited to try some new things after playing with my hand in the ground during high school."
Bollers mentioned having built a strong relationship with recent commit Darryl Peterson after the two visited UW on March 1. But the entire group of pledges, according to Bollers, also factored into his decision.
"I've talked with just about all the commits for Wisconsin in the 2021 class, and I've been doing that for the last few months," Bollers said. "They are all really great guys who were not only a great resource for me, but just a great group of friends as well. I can't wait to actually meet the guys and be around them again when I get there.
"I'm not really sure who we're going after next. It depends on what else we need in this class. There are some other big targets that have Wisconsin in their top group, so we're going to see if we can get them to join us."