MADISON, Wis. — Two college football programs of equal importance tugged on Vince Biegel’s heartstrings as he struggled to decide which school to attend on a scholarship. His choices? Follow family or forge his own path.
On one hand, Brigham Young University in Utah offered him the opportunity to play in the shadows of his kin. That’s where his father, Rocky Biegel, played linebacker from 1988-91. That’s where his uncle, T.D., played fullback from 1992-94.
On the other hand, the University of Wisconsin offered Vince Biegel, a Wisconsin Rapids High School linebacker, the opportunity to remain close to home and play for the school he grew up watching.
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In the end, the allure of setting a trail for himself and staying in state led Biegel to commit to the Badgers.
“It was obviously a big decision,” Biegel said. “Being an in-state kid really helps. I wanted to stay close to home. I’m a Midwest guy. I’ve got a lot of great family support here in the state of Wisconsin. My dad played in Provo, but I’m excited to be a Badger.”
Biegel is a highly touted member of Wisconsin’s Class of 2012 and is expected to sign his National Letter of Intent to play for the Badgers on Wednesday. He and at least eight other high school players have given their oral commitment to Wisconsin for next season.
Three other members of the Class of 2012 already have enrolled at Wisconsin: running back Vonte Jackson from Kenosha Bradford, offensive lineman Dan Voltz from Barrington, Ill., and defensive back Hugs Etienne from Plantation, Fla.
Biegel, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, is considered among the cream of the crop in the Badgers’ recruiting class. He rates as a four-star recruit by Scout.com and is the No. 23-ranked linebacker in the country. As a senior, he amassed 172 tackles, 21 sacks and three interceptions. Earlier this month, he played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which features some of the top high school seniors in the country.
Biegel committed to Wisconsin following the Badgers’ spring football game last year, but the scholarship offers continued pouring in. In total, he received 10 scholarship offers, with the other schools being Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Northern Illinois, Stanford and Tennessee. Despite the increased interest in his services, Biegel honored his commitment to remain in state, although BYU finished a close second.
Wisconsin Rapids coach Tony Biolo said he saw something special in Biegel when he was a seventh grader. Even then, Biolo noticed that Biegel’s hard work and determination to improve separated him from others. Biegel went on to become a three-year starter at Wisconsin Rapids. He started as a free safety his sophomore season and moved to linebacker for the next two years once he matured physically.
“He’s the best that I’ve seen,” Biolo said of Biegel as a linebacker. “Vince is a player that’s pretty special. It’s a chance in a lifetime to get to coach a player like that.”
Biegel will join a Wisconsin program that features two of the best returning linebackers in the nation in Mike Taylor and Chris Borland. Biegel said he had been in contact with both players, and his high school coach has no doubt that Biegel will soak up their advice like a sponge.
“Vince will latch onto them and learn as much as he can,” Biolo said. “That’s just the type of player he is. I think he’s going to flourish at the next level and really take it in and do well. He would love to be an impact player right away, but he’ll take his time, get to know the guys, get to know the system, put in his time in the weight room and let things work themselves out.”
Biolo described Biegel’s character as “impeccable” and said Biegel put aside the importance of individual statistics for the team’s overall benefit. In that regard, Biolo said Biegel fits the mold of other Wisconsin players who are willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team.
Biegel has made it clear that his goal is to make an impact at Wisconsin, even as a freshman. Be he also understands that whatever he gets will be earned.
“My goal right away is to go in and prove myself and let them know that I’m a hard worker and I don’t expect anything to be given to me,” Biegel said. “I expect to go in there with a hard working attitude and learn from two great linebackers and kind of take everything in and contribute in any way I can, try to help the team get better.”