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August 8, 2014
Recruiting tales: Robert Wheelwright
MADISON -- Wisconsin was the first school to offer wide receiver Robert Wheelwright in June of 2011 and the Badgers ended up earning his signature in February of 2013.
But in the 20 months in between, UW had to fight off other schools during a coaching change that shook up Wisconsin's 2013 recruiting class.
"I think it was my second camp that I attended and Wisconsin ended up offering me my first scholarship," Wheelwright told BadgerBlitz.com. "From there, they stayed on me the whole time throughout the whole process. A coach from Wisconsin was on me on a daily basis and they were always at the school. It was a great thing and that's something that I really liked about Wisconsin.
"But after coach B (Bret Bielema) left, Tennessee, Michigan, Minnesota, those were probably the top schools that kept coming after me. Nebraska as well, and they kept coming after me with the coaching change. But Wisconsin was always on top and they showed me that they wanted me more than any other school. Even during the coaching change, I had my doubts, but they let me know everything was going to be just fine and made me real comfortable right away."
A big calming factor for Wheelwright was the addition of Chris Beatty, who was hired by Gary Andersen to coach the wide receivers on Feb. 14 of 2013.
"When coach Andersen took over, him and a few other coaches came to my house," Wheelwright, who contributed last fall as a true freshman, said. "I just felt like they wanted me the most. But it was very difficult, and for a long time they didn't have a receivers coach.
"I weighted my options and looked at some other schools, but once they got coach Beatty, that made me feel better. He got in contact with me right away and told me about himself and the plan he had for me. He helped make my decision much easier."
Like many prospects, Wheelwright, 6-foot-2, 201 pounds from Columbus, Ohio, enjoyed the early attention but soon tired of the recruiting process.
"At first you love the attention, then you're really just ready for it to all end," Wheelwright said. "It was a great experience but there was a lot of pressure getting recruited by all the schools. All the coaches coming in and out of your school everyday, so I wanted to make my decision a little earlier just so I could focus on school. Sometimes I kind of regret that -- not on the school that I picked -- but maybe that I didn't get to see more schools."
Like Bielema did during his time at UW, Andersen has made Ohio a recruiting priority, and Wheelwright is more than happy to spread the word in his home state.
"A lot of guys from Ohio, I tell them about Wisconsin and always put in a good word," he said. "Guys from my school and guys from my area, I make sure they know about Wisconsin."
Wheelwright offered up some advice to younger players going through the process.
"Just stay focused with your school, because it's easy to get sidetracked with all the coaches," he said. "With all the things going on, it gets real hectic, but stay focused on school and try and enjoy the process. I think it's important to enjoy your senior year."
Wisconsin opens the 2014 season on Aug. 30 against LSU in Houston.