T.J. Bollers estimated that it was about a month or two ago that he realized he wanted to go to Wisconsin. However, a trip to Madison a year ago kickstarted his interest.
Last June, the defensive prospect from "The Hawkeye State" participated in one of UW's summer camps, an experience that eventually turned into what he described as an unofficial visit that made quite the impression.
"They showed me around and I was walking around the campus. I was like, ‘This is absolutely amazing. This is a fantastic spot,'" Bollers told AllBadgers.com on Saturday. "That made me want to come back again and again, and each time I came back I learned something new."
Bollers visited Wisconsin three other times besides the June 2019 camp -- two home games against Michigan and Iowa, and most recently during a junior day event in early March. On Thursday, he publicly announced his commitment to the program via social media.
He admitted that if he had a list of top three schools, it would have consisted of UW, Alabama and Iowa State. However, as he told AllBadgers.com, "Wisconsin really just checked off all my boxes."
"It has a top-15 engineering program. It has a fantastic football program with an amazing fan base and amazing tradition," Bollers said. "I love the Jump Around thing. It's so much fun. Like when I was there for a game, it was just energetic. The campus, it's just amazing, right? Those were three big things I had.
"I have a great relationship with the 2021 class. I have a great relationship with the coaches. I'm starting to build a relationship with people on the team now.”
247Sports, Rivals and ESPN all rate Bollers as a four-star recruit. 247Sports composite rankings designate the Tiffin (IA) Clear Creek Amana product as the No. 147 player overall and No. 8 weak-side defensive end in the nation.
Rivals ranks him the highest out of the three recruiting services as the No. 98 player in the country. It also reports 21 offers for the latest public Badger commit, which includes Power Five opportunities from Alabama, Nebraska, Penn State, Florida, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
According to Bollers, Wisconsin still looks at him as an outside linebacker. He told AllBadgers.com that he and Darryl Peterson -- like Bollers, a recent commit to the 2021 class -- will be playing the same position but on the opposite sides of UW's defense.
The future 'backer now makes up one of 14 known scholarship commits for the 2021 class and the fourth since Memorial Day. Peterson, Hilliard (OH) Bradley tight end Jack Pugh and Medford (NJ) Shawnee defensive lineman Mike Jarvis have also announced their decisions in that timeframe. For that matter, Peterson and Pugh both attended Wisconsin's March 1 junior day.
One of the newest members of the class, Bollers believes the relationship between this group of future Badgers is already "so good." He feels like he has known some for "months instead of not even knowing each other."
"Because when we talk, we can talk so in-depth about certain things and we have a greater understanding of how another person is based off of how another person is and that's just from texting or getting on Zoom calls and stuff," Bollers said. "That relationship is fantastic. I can't wait to actually finally meet these guys, be able to grow our relationship even more once we’re actually able to start hanging out and playing together.”