October 9, 2008

Vlad headed to Madison

It took a bit longer in this season's recruiting process, but Wisconsin's connections in the state of Florida are quickly beginning to surface.

Led by the recruiting efforts of first-year defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, the Badger coaching staff secured verbal commitments from South Florida standouts David Gilbert and Conor O'Neill, and are in contention to reel in another big-time player from that area.

When UW hosts Penn State this weekend, four-star prospect Vladimir Emilien will be on campus to take his official visit to Madison, one of six college possibilities the 6-foot-1, 186-pound safety is currently considering.

"My recruiting coach is Coach Partridge and basically he was one of the coaches at Pittsburgh recruiting me and now he doing the same thing at Wisconsin," Emilien told BadgerBlitz.com Wednesday night. "With Coach Partridge, he's just a real good person to talk to because he's from around my area and he can relate to me a whole lot."

When asked if the decisions by Gilbert and O'Neill would influence his own choice, the Lauderhill (FL) Plantation said it would factor little in his own agenda.

"I know of them and they know of me, too, but we don't really contact each other like that," he said. "With them committing to Wisconsin, that really wouldn't have anything to do with my decision."

After suffering a serious knee injury during his junior year, Emilien has not played during the 2008 regular season, though that could change if his team qualifies for post-season play.

"I haven't been able to go yet mainly just as a precaution, but if we make it to the playoffs I plan on being out there," said Emilien, who reports a 3.8 GPA. "When it (the injury) first happened I was real disappointed because I thought all the schools that were recruiting me hard were going to lay back, but really a lot more schools came after me.

"Basically after the surgery it was a tough time, watching all my teammates out there playing game. But right now my head is held high because I'm at full speed and I'm just thankful for what God has given me because I'm still being recruited by some of the most elite schools in the country for academics and football and that's just a blessing."

Despite the injury and not playing during his final prep season, Emilien is happy with his "super six" that suit him both on the football field and in the classroom.

"Right now the schools that are coming at me the hardest are Wisconsin, Michigan, Stanford, USF and Wake Forest," he said. "Ohio State is kind of getting back in the mix right now. Basically they call about once a week, but I know they have a few safeties already committed to them. So I would throw them in the top six, my super six."

As for what Emilien hopes to discover when he makes his first trip to Wisconsin: "Just how the environment is, how everything would fit me. I'm interested in the weather because I know it's not going to be 97 degrees up there like it is here in Florida. How the coaching staff works and how the teammates cooperate with each other. Are they a family-like team, because that's real important to me.

"I already know the academics are off the charts, so I'm going to find out more about the whole football program."

After making his selected visits, Emilien intends on making his decision on his birthday later next month.

"I'd like to make the call on Nov. 23, my birthday," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to have a press conference or just make it public, but that's when I'd like to make it official."

Wisconsin currently has one verbal from a safety in it's 2009 class, Josh Peprah from Texas.

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