Recruiting tales: Sam Arneson

MADISON -- Dave Arneson played football at Wisconsin and lettered for the Badgers in 1983 and 1984.
So when it came time for his son, Sam Arneson, to go through the recruiting process, it was an easy decision when UW offered a full scholarship in April of 2010.
"Now thinking back on it, it seems like forever ago," Sam Arneson told at Wisconsin's media day earlier this month. "I was a Wisconsin kid and I was always looking for that Wisconsin offer."
Before the Badgers earned his commitment, Arneson, who is set to play his final season in Madison, received strong interest from Iowa and Stanford and received offers from a handful of smaller schools.
"I really considered Iowa for a while and they were pretty comparable to Wisconsin with the type of players they recruit and the type of program they run there," said Arneson, a two-time academic all-Big Ten selection. "That was one of the teams, but I got the Wisconsin offer pretty early and I jumped on that.
"There were also some smaller schools and I remember talking to Stanford a little bit. That's a program and a school that you really need to take a look at because of the reputation for both football and academics. Football is great and you wish you could do it forever, but schools like Wisconsin and Stanford can set you up for life."
Being an in-state prospect, Arneson said he felt a strong connection with members of the Wisconsin team during his trips to Madison. He was hosted during his official visit by Travis Frederick, an offensive lineman from Big Foot, Wis., who is now in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys.
"When I was looking around, I was always looking at the other guys on the team and seeing if I felt comfortable with them," Arneson said. "Are these your type of guys and the people you want to spend the next four years with? I think that's the No. 1 thing recruits should be looking for on visits, to see if the players who are already there are a good fit.
"Coaches change, we learned that firsthand, and facilities change as well, just like a lot of other things. But usually an atmosphere and an environment doesn't change as long as you have those same guys and those same values. I think that Wisconsin has always had the right kind of people who do the right things academically, socially and on the football field."
Arneson was routinely involved in on-campus recruiting when Joe Rudolph was his position coach and the director of recruiting at Wisconsin. That responsibility has lessened heading into his senior season.
"I was definitely doing a lot of recruiting stuff when I was younger when coach Rudolph was the head of recruiting," Arneson said. "With him being my position coach, he would turn to me a lot to host players. Not so much anymore because I'm a senior and I'm not a young guy anymore. But it was always fun to host guys and it's exciting. I think I hosted six guys who are now on our team, so it's fun to see how they develop and become great players."
Like many players on the current roster, Arneson experienced a good deal of change during his time at UW and cautioned recruits to pick a school based on culture and academics, not specific coaches.
"If you come to a university for a coach, there's a decent chance he's going to be gone during your time there," said Arneson, who was recruited by Bret Bielema, who is now at Arkansas. "Hopefully not, but that stuff happens. So feeling comfortable with schools, the people and the academics is the biggest thing."
Wisconsin opens the 2014 season on Aug. 30 against LSU in Houston.
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