- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
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When the Badgers offer a recruit from Wisconsin, it usually signals the end. Wisconsin does not produce a significant number of BCS prospects, but the ones it does have rarely leave the state.
But defensive end Billy Hirschfeld (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) was contemplating leaving for several months. Illinois, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, NC State, Nebraska and Pittsburgh also offered, so he had options.
In the end, though, Hirshfeld joined the numerous other in-state recruits to commit to Wisconsin.
“There was some work to be done,” Hirschfeld said about Wisconsin earning his commitment. “At first they didn’t know if they wanted me at offensive tackle or playing defensive tackle or defensive end, and that was under [former coach Bret] Bielema. When he left, that sank them down a little bit, because it was Bielema who offered me.”
So the 6-foot-6, 267-pound lineman made the rounds, visited a few other schools and built solid relationships elsewhere. He kept going to Wisconsin, too, once Gary Andersen was hired to replace Bielema, who left for Arkansas in December.
Andersen was not just picking up where Bielema left off with Hirschfeld, though. It was going to take some effort to catch up, which he eventually did.
“Getting to know Coach Andersen and Coach Chad, it was definitely an eye opener,” he said. “I’m comfortable with the staff and football program.”
Hirschfeld’s teammate George Panos is also committed to Wisconsin, but it was 2013 signee T.J. Watt who recruited him hardest. The two began working out together recently, and Watt kept drilling Hirschfeld about his recruitment.
“When are you going to commit to Wisconsin?” Watt would ask.
On Tuesday night, Hirschfeld’s parents asked him about his recruitment, too. Unlike Watt, Hirschfeld had an answer for his parents.
“It feels great. I got a lot of fan support from everyone that knows me whether through AAU or playing against them or friends outside of sports,” Hirschfeld said. “It’s a great feeling to play for the home state.”