Better Know a Badger: Four-Star Safety Hunter Wohler
Most of Wisconsin's 2021 class -- both for the football and men's basketball programs -- will be heading to Madison shortly, though Paul Chryst's team already welcomed seven players as mid-year enrollees in January.
BadgerBlitz.com has kicked off its annual "Better Know a Badger" series, where we check in with the incoming freshmen as they begin the transition from being prep standouts to college athletes. In 2021, we include some transfers as well.
Hunter Wohler surprised Wisconsin with an early holiday present with his announced commitment on Dec. 23, 2019. The in-state product saw several big-time programs pursue him with offers coming from Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State. The Muskego, Wis., native and recent Gatorade state player of the year signed with the Badgers during the early signing period in December.
Wohler spoke with BadgerBlitz.com on May 13 about a variety of topics as the days tick down before his arrival at Wisconsin. Questions and his answers have been edited for clarity.
You ended your high school career, your program ended it last fall just in dominant fashion. Just how was playing your senior year with everything that was going on with the pandemic?
HW: It was tough. You know, there's a lot of stuff that we had to do to follow the guidelines and all that. But overall, it was a good year. It was good just to be with the boys again, there was a lot of guys that either didn't get to play or were forced to play in the spring and we're crunched with games and everything, so I'm just grateful that we got the opportunity to play. We got to play nine games, which would be a regular season so it was just great to be on the field with with my brothers, the guys I grew up with, and just playing the game I love.
So I know he played in the spring, but if somehow the teams from Muskego and Braelon Allen's Fond du Lac collided and met up somehow, who would take home that W and why?
HW: I think we definitely would have. Muskego would have won that one for sure. I think Fond du Lac and all those northern teams haven't seen a defense like ours, just that flies to the ball and keeps right with their assignments, everything like that. So I think we would have definitely pulled it out, and I don't think Fondy has seen an offense like ours is at the same time. You know, there's not a whole lot of teams that run the Wing T, especially to the degree and the perfection that we run it.
I think it would have been an awesome battle. It would have been one for the books, but I think we would have ultimately come out on top.
I always have fun asking those type of questions. I wasn't able to get out to your games or to Braelon's but it was fun watching the highlights in terms of just seeing two in-state programs. It was impressive to say the least. I guess along those notes, Hunter, just who is the best player you've gone against to this day?
HW: Oh, shoot. That's a tough question. I'm gonna be honest, one of the top players that I've seen in high school, probably towards the top is [Michigan 2021 walk-on commit] Max Bredeson. That dude's an athlete. You wouldn't know it looking at him. He's a bigger dude. Well built, but that dude can move and he can run. He can fling the ball. You know, he's a dude you definitely don't want to line up against so that was one of the harder matchups that that we've faced all three years, just trying to keep up with him and stop him by myself.
With everything that's happened in the past year, in what areas do you believe you developed further not just during your your senior year, but just the past year in general?
HW: I think I've just grown as a person. You know, having to having to go through all these things that most kids don't have to go through, especially at this age, I think me and our team and a lot of the high schoolers and kids in the state just had to grow up real quick and had to kind of figure out how they wanted to attack all the stuff that's going on.
Overall, I just think just growing as a person, growing in my faith and everything, it was a lot to overcome. But it definitely made us all stronger.
You signed in December during the early signing period, but which schools if any of them tried to keep in contact or trying to continue to recruit you until you signed on that dotted line on your National Letter of Intent?
HW: 100% honesty, I don't think any of them really reached out afterwards. I think I made it pretty clear that Wisconsin was where I was staying and there was nothing changing that.
Staying with Wisconsin for that matter, how often have you been in contact with the staff with your arrival on campus coming soon, and who are you talking with the most?
HW: Coaching-wise, I'm talking with Coach [Jim] Leonhard a lot. Me and him, we talk over Zoom once a week, once every two weeks just talking about the playbook and getting me right for for when I head up there in the summer.
It's good. You know, we're just shooting s----, talking ball and just trying to get me ready for the system and ready for college football.
But for for the boys that I've been talking to, obviously me and Braelon talk a lot. We've been pretty close. He'll be my roommate going up for the summer and all of freshman year so I'm stoked about that, being able to be with an in-state dude that's a beast like him. But Darryl [Peterson] is a great dude, talk to him all the time. Love him. T.J.'s a really good dude as well so this is an all-around really good class -- good, strong class of dudes -- so I just can't wait to get up there and be with them.
To stay with Coach Leonhard, how is your relationship with him grown to this point?
HW: I think it's grown a lot. You know, for the first time meeting him and talking to him, it's all a little bit more formal. You're obviously respecting the coach and just trying to make sure he likes you. But now, we're able to just kind of get on the phone and talk for a half hour without talking any football. It's just kind of talking about life and what's new, and what's going on in our world and just kind of comparing. So it's nice knowing that I'll be up there and already have a relationship ready with the DC and also my position coach, so I'm excited.
Has Leonhard discussed with you further, just how they would like to use you within that defense?
HW: From what it sounds like, I'm thinking I'm gonna be sitting at safety, being able to play kind of more all over the field, just like they use Scott Nelson, Eric Burrell last year. Just being able to make plays and put me in spots that'll help us win games, hopefully.
Have you had a chance to talk with any of the midyear enrollees? There are six of them that came from your class that enrolled early and had some spring ball experience. Have they talked about that experience in their first semester at UW?
HW: Yeah, those guys are goons. They're great dudes. But we've talked about it for sure. It's a whole different game, though, from what it sounds like. Just the practices, the intensity. Everyone loves football, and everyone's there for a purpose. It's not like high school where half the guys are just there because their parents want them to be or because they want to be with their friends. Now, it's serious, and now it's like, strap it on and let's go.
But yeah, they love it. They absolutely love being up there, the atmosphere. And hopefully this year, it'll be a little bit different once things start opening up that we'll be able to really enjoy it.
Which player from this class are you looking forward to seeing the most on the field?
HW: I think I'm looking forward to Darryl on the field. I think he's got a lot of potential. I think he'll be a standout. I think there's a lot of things that he brings to the table that were very under-looked by some of the colleges so I think he'll be really good.
And then, I'm also excited to see how Al Ashford and Ricardo Hallman are both going to do. Just being DBs, I'll be with them all the time so I'm excited to see what they can do. Hopefully, us three can build a nice bond and be able to make some special stuff in the backfield.
I know you mentioned graduation before we started recording, but when's the official move-in date for you then?
HW: So we move in June 13 or June 12. I think June 12 is our move-in date, but then I have graduation the 13th, the day after that. And then we're supposed to be heading up there June 14, which is when all the other guys will head up there. But with track, I talked to the coaches, and I decided that I'm going to stay home an extra week because we have regionals and sectionals the week of the 14th. So I'll just be heading up on the 21st a week later.
What do you feel that you can bring to Wisconsin's defense and that safety room?
HW: I think I can definitely bring some communication. I've been working on that a ton, just repping it in and trying to be more vocal on the field since coming on the varsity team sophomore year. That's been one of the focal points for our defense as a whole is just being able to talk and communicate and make sure everyone's on the same page. So I definitely think that'll be one of the things I can bring to the table.
What are some of the areas that you see yourself improving in once you get up to Wisconsin?
HW: I think I'll be able to improve my technique. There's a lot of things that I haven't even touched on yet with my coaches and you know, just being able to improve all around in the game. Playing three sports and everything and not really being able to focus on just football, it'll be nice once I get up there. It'd be football year-round and [I] get to work on my craft and perfect my craft and be able to rep the technique and everything. Just to put it all out there and see what it comes to.
What are your goals for your freshman year then?
HW: My goals are just to come in and have fun. This is one of the things that I've dreamed about, so I think just coming in, have fun, put it all out there, compete every day and then see what happens after that.