Oak Creek (Wis.) running back Brian Calhoun, a 5-11, 190-pounder with 4.3 speed, is arguably the best player in the state of Wisconsin this season. Through seven games, Calhoun had 1200 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns. It looked early on like Calhoun would leave the state to play his college ball, but Calhoun has the Badgers listed in his final four and Wisconsin has as good a chance as anybody to land the blue-chipper’s services. IW’s Ronny Whitworth caught up with Calhoun to discuss his season:
IW: How is your season going so far?
Calhoun: We’re doing pretty good. Right now we’re 7-1. We’re ranked No. 1 in the state, so we’re doing pretty good.
IW: Has your own performance been what you hoped for going into the season?
Calhoun: I think it’s a little down from last year. Well, I can’t really say that because I think teams are keying on me more, but I’m just trying to do as much as I can really.
IW: What’s the latest on your recruiting situation. Have you narrowed things down at all?
Calhoun: I’ve narrowed it down to four schools. Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin.
IW: How did you come to that decision?
Calhoun: It just comes down to where I can play. I just want to play. That’s all I want to do. With some of the other schools like Nebraska and Colorado, the chances of me playing were kind of slim. I just picked the schools that I can make an impact and play early. Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa and Purdue were some of those schools when I looked at that. Now I’ll make my decision sometime in December or January.
IW: Have you set any official visits yet?
Calhoun: No I haven’t. But I plan on taking them.
IW: Have you been to Madison a lot, living so close?
Calhoun: Oh yeah, I’ve been to Madison a lot. I haven’t been to too many games, but I’ve seen the campus. It’s really nice and everything.
IW: How about the other schools? Have you seen any of those?
Calhoun: I’ve actually been to all four, unofficially. So I kind of know what they look like, but I’ll probably visit one or two, or a few of them just to take a more in-depth look at it.
IW: It seems like Wisconsin’s running back situation has changed a little bit since last summer, when it looked like they might be stockpiled with running backs. The Badger coaching staff really needs to bring in a top running back this year. Has that changed your outlook on perhaps deciding to come to Wisconsin?
Calhoun: It definitely has. Before the season, they had four guys, and it was kind of like, you look somewhere else. But now they only have really two backs. I think if I can come in there and I can give them another solid, third back, I mean that’s a whole different story.
IW: What other factors will go into your decision?
Calhoun: I think it comes down to playing, not necessarily playing early. I think when I’m ready to play, I should play. Obviously if I’m not ready to play my first year, then I shouldn’t play. But I think that, and me getting along with the coaches and liking the coaches, being comfortable. I think if I’m going to go somewhere for four or five years, I have to be comfortable at that place. That’s going to be a big thing.
IW: There’s been a lot of talk about some of the guys from your school leaving the state to play at other Big Ten schools. What’s been your perspective on that situation?
Calhoun: Whatever happened in the past has nothing to do with me. Everybody is different. If (the guys who chose to leave the state) felt comfortable at Wisconsin, they would have gone to Wisconsin. It’s all where you feel comfortable. In the end, deep down, if I feel comfortable at Wisconsin and that’s where I want to contribute my talents to, then I will choose Wisconsin no matter what’s happened in the past or what’s going to happen now. It’s all where you want to go and where you feel happy.
IW: All four of your finalists are in the Big Ten. Do you feel your style of play fits that conference the best?
Calhoun: I think the Big Ten has to be one of the most competitive, obviously. There’s never a clear-cut winner every year. To compete against the the best athletes in the country, that’s another thing for me. Every Big Ten school is pretty solid, so just to compete in the Big Ten is something I want to do. Plus, I’m closer to home, and my parents will be able to see me no matter what Big Ten school I go to, so I feel good about that.
IW: What are the things you offer as a player that have set you apart from other running backs?
Calhoun: I think I have a unique combination of speed, and I can cut and I have good vision. Good running backs have that. Some people just don’t have that cutting ability, and acceleration and things like that. I think I can bring that.
IW: You mentioned possibly being a third back at Wisconsin next year. Do you see yourself as similar to any of the backs they have right now?
Calhoun: As a matter of fact, I think I look just like Anthony Davis. I run kind of like he does. He’s not the biggest back, but he gets the job done. I think he kind of fits the mold I’m doing right now.
IW: Do you know what you want to major in?
Calhoun: No I don’t, but I’m thinking about engineering.
IW: Obviously all of your finalists are strong academically. Does academics play a role at this point, or is all about the football programs?
Calhoun: Oh no, academics is a big part. If I get hurt, I want something to fall back on. Most of the schools in the Big Ten are pretty solid in that area, but that’s definitely another important thing to focus on too.
IW: Is there anybody that you’ve always looked up to or modeled your game after growing up?
Calhoun: I think right now I love watching Marshall Faulk or Eddie George play, because they just love running the ball. Marshall Faulk can do so many things. He can catch the ball and do this and that. I just love watching him play. I think Marshall Faulk right now, definitely.
IW: Has the recruiting process been enjoyable for you, or is it a pain to constantly be getting phone calls and have everybody asking you where you’re going?
Calhoun: Actually it’s been pretty okay for me. At times you talk to a lot of coaches at one time, but it hasn’t been that hectic. As long as you enjoy it and don’t let it bother you, then you’ll have fun with it and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.
IW: I know your coach likes to stay out of your recruiting decision, but have your parents played a big role in helping you come to a decision?
Calhoun: My parents have given me a lot of freedom. If I want to talk to a coach or something, they’ll let me talk to him. If I don’t, then I won’t. They try to make me feel as comfortable as possible, and I think that’s the right thing to do right now.