May 21, 2008

Klein looking to build on first offer

A.J. Klein and his family weren't sure they were going to make the visit to Iowa State this past weekend when head coach Gene Chizik first extended an offer.

Just a few days later, however, the 2009 prospect from Kimberly, Wis., had a bit more incentive to make the drive to Ames.

"About two days later, the defensive coordinator called back and said they're willing to offer me a full scholarship," Klein told earlier this week between events at his regional track meet. "All they really wanted to do was see me first, so this past weekend we took a visit there and I got to meet with everyone on the staff and see all the facilities."

A valuable part of the 2007 Division II state championship team as a junior, Klein was impressed with both the coaching staff and the new renovations taking place at Iowa State.

"We really like the coaching staff there. All those guys have been together a long time and Iowa State really seems like an up-and-coming program," said Klein, who is being recruited as an outside linebacker. "If I were to go there, all the new construction and adding seats to the stadium would be done by 2009, so that is something that is pretty exciting.

"We love the plans for the facilities and just the whole direction of the program."

With his first offer now in hand, Klein is hoping more schools continue to extend scholarship opportunities.

One of those schools on his radar is Wisconsin, a team Klein grew up watching and cheering for.

"I'm still very interested in Wisconsin," he said. "They've been to school visits, I've meet with Coach (Bob) Bostad a couple times already and talked with him over the phone. He's been to a lot of my track meets and had numerous talks with my high school coach.

"I took an unofficial visit during spring practice and I talked with Coach (Bret) Bielema and Coach (Dave) Doeren and they both said they like my film and they would like to get me down to a camp. I'm still undecided about the camp right now but I probably will end up making my way down there in June."

Klein reported he also has received hand written letters from Northern Illinois, Wyoming, Western Michigan and Indiana, with some interest coming from Northwestern and Minnesota, as well.

And though it is still early in the recruiting process, Klein picked up some momentum and confidence when a national powerhouse expressed interest a few months back.

"Early in the ball game we had contact with Coach (Brent) Venables at Oklahoma but they ended up filling up their scholarships for linebackers, but that was real nice thing to start off the recruiting to know as school like Oklahoma had some interest," he said.

Now more acclimated with the recruiting game, Klein has sought out advice from a pair of future Badgers and former conference foes.

"I talked to the Westphal's (Tyler Westphal) and I got to speak with (Peter) Konz and they told me even though their offers came a bit later than they expected, they still really liked how everything was handled," Klein said. "Tyler's father, when I talked to him, just told me it's a long process and down the line things work themselves out."

At this point, it appears Klein will have to earn a Badger offer with his performance at camp this summer.

"Personally, he (Bostad) really hasn't given many hints (as to an offer coming), but he has been talking with my dad a lot at the track meets, so we'll see," Klein said. "Basically, they want to get me down to a camp and work with Coach Doeren personally. I really haven't gotten any hint of an offer. I hope it comes sooner or later, but other than just the contacts and the visits, there isn't an offer at this point."

Wisconsin currently has four verbal commitments in the 2009 class: Jon Budmayr, Shelby Harris, Ryan Groy and Jordan Kohout.

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