Before the summer of 2020 officially begins, sophomore lineman Carson Hinzman has seen his recruiting journey take off. In May alone, he has seen three offers spring up, including two from SEC powerhouses in Alabama and defending national champion LSU.
247Sports and Rivals also rate him as a four-star talent, with the former designating him as the No. 81 player in the nation and No. 2 offensive guard in the nation early on. How has he taken in all the national attention?
"It's such a surreal thing," Hinzman told AllBadgers.com on Monday, "and I'm really fortunate to have a lot of the people around me, keeping me grounded a lot of the time."
Last week, Hinzman heard about the offer from the Tigers via a short conversation while at a farm with his dad and uncle.
“I was just kind of speechless," Hinzman said. "I was like, ‘Wow,' I mean they're defending national champs. It's a crazy honor just to get any notice from them other than a full offer. Like I said, it's such a surreal experience I'm just so grateful to even have any offer, any attention because I know guys that have worked equally as hard as me, if not more, have not even gotten anything so I'm just really happy to be here.”
"Ever since I think, I don’t know, probably sometime in middle school, my buddies would always joke, ‘If you're going anywhere, gotta go Bama or 'Roll Tide'' and stuff like that, just to be joking around," Hinzman said. "Even today, they'll say either ‘Bama or Bust,’ and they said whenever I choose a college, they're all going to wear Bama stuff no matter what I pick.
"They’re always giving me crap for it, but just to have that become a real experience is just, like I said, I just can't explain it. God blessed it, and I'm just happy to be here."
Overall, the 2022 product believes he holds 13 or 14 offers overall after the LSU opportunity (247Sports and Rivals report 12 and 13, respectively, though their respective profiles of him do not show the Tigers as of Wednesday night). Hinzman can actually track the growing number in his room with the help of his mom, who buys little flags of each program to represent those programs giving him chances to play at the college level.
"When I even got offered, it's kind of a funny story. I stayed after a little bit to work with Coach (Joe) Rudolph," Hinzman said. "I came home and like I said, my mom buys these little flags. I had a Wisconsin flag hanging in my room, and I was like, ‘Oh man, I think she thought I got an offer and I really didn't really.’ I felt bad. I was like, ‘Hey, Mom, I didn't. I mean really appreciate it.’
‘Then she's like, 'No, you did.’ I was about to have a heart attack."
Hinzman grew up a Wisconsin fan, and as he noted, the community surrounding his hometown in Northwestern Wisconsin cheers for the cardinal and white as well.
"They’re an amazing program, especially just being the in-state school and obviously their o-line is phenomenal as well. But over time going down there, they're really just a great program. I know Coach Rudolph, Coach (Chris) Haering, Coach (Paul) Chryst, they've done an absolutely amazing job keeping in touch, and I'm really thankful for those guys as well.”
For that matter, both Big Ten West programs extended those before the Hammond (WI) St. Croix Central product even played a down of football on offense as he worked at nose guard and defensive tackle as a freshman.
Other offers have rolled in from big name Power Five programs like Notre Dame, Oregon, Michigan, and Penn State. According to Hinzman, a 2019 small school all-state honoree by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, a few of them appear to be looking at him on the interior of the offensive line. He believes Wisconsin is one of those schools as well.
That being said, he is willing to help wherever teams need him.
"I always tell the coaches, I mean I'll play center to safety for ya, it just doesn't really matter to me," Hinzman said. "I just want to be on the field under your coaching because I know where the team needs me most is where I'm probably gonna flourish the most.
"If you want me to play QB, I'll do my best or wide receiver. I got some kind of bricky hands, but I can make it work. I'm not really sure too much right now, but I guess we’ll kind of see.”
When asked if he has any schools sticking out to him or atop his list, Hinzman said it was a little early, though he stated those teams he has visited before in Wisconsin, Iowa and Notre Dame.
"Those guys have just been absolutely awesome," Hinzman said. "Take that with a grain of salt because I say that with a lot of bias just because I have been down to their campuses, and I have experience down there. I have actually visited them more than once, all of them.
"But I know upcoming this summer and into the fall and next spring, I'm really looking forward to getting out there and experiencing more campuses like obviously Alabama, possibly Oregon, LSU. Those (are) a little bit bigger schools and Penn State. I was talking to my dad, and we’re trying to get to as many schools as we possibly can just because I know for them to even offer that is a huge commit for them as well. I want to uphold that decision and just give them the best chance I possibly can.”
Hinzman is not rushing his recruiting process. He is also not really sure about any timelines about decisions at the moment, though he feels he will not hold "it off too, too long."
The all-state standout wants to go with the flow, because as he was told previously, "once you go to a school, it'll just click with you."
“I just want to experience the most I possibly can just because I know I have a few ideas of what a good college is, or what a good program is like." "I'm just really looking forward to experiencing a lot more and then trying to make my decision off of that.”