Wisconsin's top 2014 recruit will miss season to treat depression
JUL 07, 2014 3:30p ET
Jaden Gault enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in January riding a high from winning a state football championship last fall, graduating high school a semester early and competing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a showcase reserved for the nation's best prospects.
A four-star offensive tackle prospect and the highest-rated recruit in Wisconsin's Class of 2014, Gault figured to parlay the extra reps he would have gained in spring practice into a meaningful role this season for the Badgers, perhaps as a backup left tackle on one of the best O-lines in the country.
But things changed quickly upon beginning life as a college athlete.
The new demands and pressures caused anxiety for Gault, which spun into depression, and by February the freshman was thinking of ways to end his life.
Luckily, he recognized he needed help and took a leave of absence from the football program, missing spring practice. He dropped two of his spring classes, began working with a psychiatrist and psychologist and participated in a rigorous outpatient care program.
Gault is doing better but has put his first college football season on hold, deciding to redshirt this season and targetting a return to the team next January. From the Wisconsin State Journal:
“I was almost like a zombie,” Gault said in a telephone interview Friday. “I was getting kind of hopeless. I didn’t feel like doing anything or being there at all. I just wanted to check out.
“I wanted to just be done with life. Being in that kind of stage, you really have no other options in your head at that time.”
“I’m making a lot of progress, I think. I’m doing better now,” Gault said. “The big thing right now is just getting back into a schedule. Right now I’m not in classes, and come fall it’s going to be a full schedule.
“I’ve been doing some things to personally try to get my mind right again, and I’m definitely doing a lot better than I was when I took a leave from the team.”
“I know depression isn’t seen as it really is,” Jaden Gault said. “A lot of people go through it, and it’s hard to come forth with it. It was tough for me, but I’m glad that I did and got the help I needed.”
According to the State Journal, Wisconsin declined to comment on Gault's situation, but an official said he has full support from the program and his spot on the team has not changed.
After his story began to gain attention on Monday, Gault tweeted this:
I'm overwhelmed by all the support. I was tired of hiding from everything. The battles not over yet but I'm optimistic about the future.— Jaden Gault (@77JadenGault77) July 7, 2014
Gault can still have the successful college football career he envisioned when he moved to Madison only six months ago, as he'll have a full four years of eligibility remaining.
But, of course, most important is his current and future health. Best of luck, Jaden.