February 4, 2009

On, Wisconsin! Appleton headed to Madison

In a recruiting journey that entertained far more speculation than concrete answers, it appears Kraig Appleton has decided to play his college ball in Madison next fall.

In an announcement made Saturday at the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Appleton, a four-star wide receiver from East St. Louis, Ill., proudly hoisted a Wisconsin Badger hat in favor of Illinois, the one school many felt he was committed to prior to the event.

" " said Appleton.

Appleton is Wisconsin's 19th verbal and second wide receiver in its 2009 class, joining Jeff Duckworth of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Appleton's recruitment seemed to take a turn in favor of Wisconsin when defensive coordinator Dave Doeren took over as his primary contact. Doeren, who served as Wisconsin's recruiting coordinator in last year's cycle, is also credited with landing another four-star prospect in UW's 2009 class, running back Montee Ball.

Up until Saturday, however, many still believed Appleton would select Illinois, the school he originally verbaled to in late November, according to various reports. Yet, through contact with his high school coaching staff and sources close to the situation, BadgerBlitz.com maintained Appleton's recruitment was still open, and that Wisconsin became his leader in mid-December.

"From what I know, he's not committed to anyone right now," said Curtis Graham, Appleton's offensive coordinator, on Dec. 7. "He's got everyone on ice right now. To be honest, I don't know.

"I recently spoke to the head coach (Darren Sunkett); we both have no idea where Kraig will end up committing. It's down to Wisconsin and Illinois. It's all up in the air."

Following that interview, this site learned Appleton was being listed as a silent verbal during bowl preparation while the coaching staff was making in-home visits in their respective recruiting areas.

Now it will be the coaching staff's job to keep him on board for the month-long period before Signing Day on Feb. 4, 2009.

A 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide out with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, it's realistic that Appleton could have an immediate impact on a Badger unit that ranked 84th in pass offense in 2008.

With Appleton now on board, it could be argued that UW was able to land the top wide receiver and quarterback (Jon Budmayr) in Illinois' current senior class.

Wisconsin is expected to open fall camp with six juniors, but just four scholarship athletes with sophomore or freshmen eligibility (Appleton, Duckworth, T.J. Williams and Nick Toon).

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