St. Louis has always been a battleground for schools in the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC. Chalk another one up to the Big Ten.
St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit receiver Wes Kemp was one of the most heavily recruited players in St. Louis, and the 6-foot-4, 226-pounder has made up his mind and is heading to the Big Ten.
Kemp officially committed to Wisconsin today, picking the Badgers over offers from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Missouri, Nebraska and others.
"It was just a combination of the coaches, it's great academic school, one of the top business programs in the country, and their history the past couple years," Kemp said.
"They have been on top of the Big Ten but they are still overlooked. Plus, the receiver situation – two of their top receivers are leaving next year – that's an area of need for them.
"I visited a lot of schools, you get those strong feelings. I mean, you're happy about every school after you visit, but Wisconsin was just that school where the feeling never went away for me. I talked with my parents, prayed about it, and it just hit me. The recruiting process becomes a burden at times and I was just ready to get it over with. I really thought that was the place for me."
Kemp, who had 769 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns in 2006, said the Badger coaches were obviously excited with the news.
"First of all, I called Henry Mason, and he didn't pick up," Kemp said. "He had sent me a text last week and I hadn't responded, so he sent me another text. He was worried about me, he thought I was going to commit somewhere else.
"But I talked to my coach, coach Mahoney and I got coach Bielema's number. I said 'how you doing,' he said 'what's going on, Wes?' I said I was ready to commit. He said 'wow.' He was surprised. He thought I was going to wait till the fall to commit. They were surprised to say the least, but they were happy.
"They said it made their day. Something just came over me and I thought I need to get this over with now and help Wisconsin try to recruit the country so we can keep the program elite and get the ball rolling."
Many people thought Kemp might be heading to either Nebraska to team up with fellow St. Louis blue-chipper, Blaine Gabbert, or to Iowa to play with Jason Ford. But neither materialized.
"It was talking, but it was one of those times I had to do some soul searching, really ask yourself are you going to college to be with friends or get an education and play in football program where you can be successful?" Kemp said. "Sometimes you get wrapped up in the hype. I would talk to Blaine and Nebraska looked good, talk to Jason, and Iowa was there for a minute. It is easy to get wrapped up in it. It was all happening so fast, I just took a step back to find the best place for me and that was Wisconsin
"It was hard saying no to Blaine. He's a top prospect, know he's a great player, and we still work out together, but I just didn't feel Nebraska was the right fit for me. With Iowa, I was looking at their offers and they've offered a lot of people, so there were a lot of people before me and that was probably the major thing with them."
Kemp said he's glad he's finally done with the process.
"Wisconsin showed me a lot that right when I started showing interest in them, they had an offer on the table," he said. 'It showed me a lot that they thought that highly about me. The coaches were great, I really like coach Mason. Then St. Louis kids always do well there. Kids like Brandon Williams and the Fletcher brothers that went to Hazelwood East, St. Louis kids just always do well at Wisconsin."