There are sleepers and some times there are super sleepers. That's the case with Pasadena (Calif.) Muir defensive end Ricky Garner, who committed earlier today to play football for one of the top programs in the Big 10.
Because of an injury that kept him out most of his junior season and a move from offense to defense, Garner fell off the national recruiting map. But it was Wisconsin and coach Dave Doeren that found him after reviewing senior tape.
"I'm signing with Wisconsin on Wednesday," Garner said as he was preparing to go through security at the airport after his official visit. "I had kind of given up hope toward the end of the season that I would be signing D-I, but then the Ole Miss coaches came by while looking at another one of my teammates and they liked me a lot.
"Then the Idaho coaches said I'm a really good player and started to recruit me. I thought to myself that maybe I should send out some tape. I sent one to the new coach at Wisconsin, and then coach Doeren got it the first day that he was there on the job. He came out to watch me play basketball.
"Then I took my visit there this weekend and really loved it. So that's where I'm going to sign with on Wednesday."
Garner is a three-sport star. He is a solid long and triple-jumper in track, and he also stars in basketball for Muir. With a 1110 on the SAT and great athletic ability, Garner has already drawn comparisons to one of Doeren's former players he coached at Kansas, Charlton Keith.
"I had 13 tackles, one touchdown, 115 tackles and four forced fumbles this year," he said. "They recruited me to play defensive end or maybe outside linebacker. I'm a very good pass rusher that can also read and get to the guy with the football on run plays."
Wisconsin wasn't the only team in pursuit of Garner once he began to send tapes out. He picked up offers from Idaho, New Mexico and UNLV, but when the Badgers offered him an official visit he figured it would be worth the trip to check it out.
And once he was on campus, he was sold.
"It's an all-around nice area," he said. "Everybody is from the area and they're really nice. The football team treated me like I was family. That was important for me. I wanted a place where I could feel at home, and Wisconsin is that place.
"I never thought I would get this opportunity, but I guess it pays to never give up."