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December 4, 2001(Note: A day after this report this player committed to Minnesota and cancelled all of his other visits)
Immediately after the Badgers' regular season came to a conclusion, Coach Barry Alvarez and Jim Hueber headed to the nearby home of one of their most desired prospects.
Matt Spaeth, a 6-7, 240-pound tight end/linebacker from Albertsville, Minn. (St. Michael High School) is a prototype for the type of defensive rush end they'd like to bring into the program. With a 4.7 40 and tremendous speed on film, Spaeth has turned the heads of college recruiters nationwide.
He helped lead St. Michael to a 12-1 season, losing in the state semifinals. He was dominant on both sides of the ball, and many college coaches have told him he will make an impact early in his college career.
Wisconsin told Spaeth they would redshirt him next season and give him a year to prepare for the rush end position, where he's only had a handful of snaps throughout his high school career.
"They told me I'm a priority. They wanted to be here the first day they could make in-home visits to show me I'm what they wanted," Spaeth said.
After the UW coaches' visit, Spaeth called Alabama the next day and cancelled his visit for Dec. 7, and set up a trip to Wisconsin instead. He has narrowed his decision to Minnesota, Wisconsin and his childhood favorite Nebraska. Spaeth's father is a former Cornhusker tight end.
"I'm pretty much putting Alabama out of the picture because they're a long ways from home. I called and told them I'm not really interested," Spaeth said. "It's pretty much Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska now, and I'd have to say, Minnesota and Wisconsin are my top two."
Spaeth visited Minnesota last weekend, and is debating whether to make a trip to Nebraska or decide after his trip to Wisconsin this weekend. Nebraska didn't offer him a scholarship until making an in-home visit last week.
"I really, really like Wisconsin, but I like the Gophers too because it's close to where I live," Spaeth said. "I know Wisconsin was down this year, but I know they're the better program. That's what I like about them."
Wisconsin is the only school recruiting him as a defensive end. Every other school wants him as a tight end. Spaeth said he doesn't know how much of an effect that will have on his choice.
"I've been thinking about it. I've never played defensive end. It could be really fun, but then again it could be cooler to play tight end and catch touchdowns," Spaeth said. "That's what everybody wants to do."
Spaeth said Wisconsin believes he will make an impact his redshirt freshman season.
"I'll have to get a lot stronger. Everybody does," Spaeth said. "And I'm sure they tell everybody this, but they said they expect me to play early. After the Alabama coach came here and watched film and everything, he also said he expected me to be playing by my second year."
Spaeth said he wants his decision finalized no later than Christmas. If he doesn't make a trip to Nebraska, the decision could come as early as this weekend.