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October 18, 2010It didn't take long after Ray Ball's official visit to give his verbal commitment to the Wisconsin Badgers.
One day after returning home from Madison after UW's win over No. 1 Ohio State, Ball, a 6-foot-7, 320-pound offensive tackle, phoned the Badger coaching staff to alert them of his college decision.
"Ray just confirmed with Coach Pentello that he did commit to Wisconsin," Westerville South athletic director Scott Dorne informed BadgerBlitz.com moments ago.
Ball, who previously planned to take official visits to Kentucky and Michigan, is the 15th known verbal commitment in Wisconsin's 2011 recruiting class. He joins Tyler Marz as projected tackles in the current class.
BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Ball's uncle, Ted Briggs, early Monday afternoon. The following is a question and answer with Briggs.
How excited did Ray sound when you talked to him after he committed?
Briggs: He's been excited the whole time. I'm just excited for the guy just because he wasn't going to visit other places just to visit other places. But he's excited and he's been excited for a long time. I just always like him to have a comparison to things.
Ultimately, what do you think led to the decision for him to commit to Wisconsin? What was the main thing?
Briggs: You know, let me ponder that for a minute because there's a variety of things. All the coaches are super, super nice guys. Me and coach Joe Rudolph have a really, really good relationship and Coach Bret Bielema, all of them. That weighed heavily because they are really down to earth type coaches. Our biggest thing was getting a hold of that academic support team.
The academic support that they're going to provide us there is great. You can't lie about the atmosphere he was in. This past weekend really helped. We've been down there prior to that a couple of times just looking for other things outside of going down there amidst all the hoopla.
At the end of the day, and like I've told everybody I've talked to when we first started this process, Wisconsin is the very first college that I called because I know that they can appreciate a big tackle. They were the very first phone call I've ever made on his behalf. They've always had that advantage. Playing smash mouth really helps. They play that straight, smash-mouth, bust somebody in the face and get up field and get somebody else.
That's the style that Ray plays with?
Briggs: Yup, he plays downhill and pro-style.
That's a perfect fit then.
Briggs: Yup, he's in that system now. When he gets out of the playoffs - hopefully they'll win the state - we'll be working extra hard to get ready to come into Wisconsin. He'll do a lot of private training.
Is he on track to graduate in the spring or is he trying to get done early this December so he can get up for spring ball?
Briggs: We thought about that, but now because he has a certain class that he takes year round it didn't allow us to do that. Because we're taking this ASL-II (Sign Language) class it's for the whole year. We definitely had considered that but couldn't find a way around it.
What did the coaches say when you guys made the commitment?
Briggs: They were trying to get us to make a commitment for the past six months. They were ecstatic. I know they were a little on edge because we were going to visit three top-notch programs like Michigan State. We were also considering going out to UCLA so yeah, they were very, very pleased.
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