Bielema upbeat despite withdrawals from linemen

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Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, February 2, 2012
— Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and his assistants could know by the end of the week whether UW’s 2012 freshman football class turns out to be as robust as it was before two touted offensive tackles withdrew their oral commitments and signed with other schools.

“In the end, they weren’t really committed to us,” Bielema said Wednesday after revealing UW’s 19-player class, which included seven preferred walk-ons. “They were just a spot on the wall with a name and a scholarship next to them.

“But we transitioned and made do and still have some things out there.”

The players who switched their commitments were J.J. Denman, who signed with Rutgers, and Kyle Dodson, who signed with Ohio State.

UW filled one of the holes with Jake Meador, a 6-foot-6, 320-pounder from Whiteland, Ind.

Meador chose UW over Florida after a strong visit last weekend but more because of his strong relationship with new UW offensive line coach Mike Markuson.

Markuson helped secure Meador’s commitment to Ole Miss but that changed after last season when head coach Houston Nutt stepped down and the staff was not retained.

“It was amazing,” Markuson said. “I (was) home, fired in Oxford, Miss., sitting with my wife drinking coffee and the kid was calling me.”

Meador was checking in to see where Markuson might land. Markuson was honest and said he wasn’t sure.

When Markuson joined UW, after turning down an offer from an NFL team to become assistant offensive line coach, Meador became a UW target.

“It’s unbelievable how it worked out,” said Markuson, who volunteered UW can one day win a national title. “We just knew when we evaluated him at (Ole Miss) he was a tough, hard-nosed kid from the Midwest.

“Like any other freshman lineman you have to see when he gets in if he is ready for the speed of the game (and) how physical he is going to be.”

A target still on UW’s board and a player who would wipe out the losses of Denman and Dodson is Jordan Diamond, a 6-6, 290-pound tackle from Chicago.

Diamond is set to announce his choice on Friday. UW is in the running, along with Michigan, Auburn and Arkansas.

Meador was among three offensive linemen in UW’s class.

Last updated: 7:49 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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