2021 Four-Star Standout T.J. Bollers Discusses His Top 6 Programs
Earlier this week, 2021 standout recruit T.J. Bollers released his "Top 6" schools. Wisconsin, Iowa State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Alabama and California all made the final cut.
247Sports, Rivals and ESPN all designate Bollers as a four-star recruit. 247Sports' composite rankings rate him as the No. 140 player overall in the class of 2021. Rivals grades him higher as the No. 97 recruit in the country for the next recruiting cycle.
The Tiffin, Ia. (Clear Creek-Amana High School), native spoke to AllBadgers.com on Wednesday evening to discuss what stood out about these half-dozen programs and why they made his list:
Wisconsin: "So the first time I was at Wisconsin, I was there for a football camp. I was actually still projected as a defensive end instead of an outside linebacker so I worked with Coach 'Nokes' (defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield). That was some of the best coaching that I've gotten while I was still in my college search, still trying to put myself out there and get offers. So the relationship that I was able to build just in that single day with him, and with some of the players that were there helping out with the camp that was really big. Then I was able to meet with Coach (Paul) Chryst and his first impression was great on me. Then we spent some time after the camp around the campus, and my first view of the campus was just absolutely amazing. The campus there is beautiful -- beautiful is probably an understatement, honestly. As time went on, they projected me as an outside linebacker, so I've gotten to know Coach (Bobby) April really well along with Coach (Jim) Leonhard. We've really just kept our relationship growing and excited to see where this leads."
Iowa State: "Iowa State was the first school that offered me, and ever since then, our relationship just grew into something that's awesome. Because I've been there multiple times, been to many games. I've been the basketball games, I have been on multiple visits. Every time I was there, they're always showing me something new, and we're always talking football, and they talked about asking about my family and stuff like that. Coach (Eli) Rasheed, the d-line coach there, he's an awesome coach. I remember when I was there at camp, and he was coaching me up, giving me little techniques tips and whatnot. That was just really big for me because I really liked his style of coaching, also Coach (Matt) Campbell's style and how he runs things."
Northwestern: "I've only been to Northwestern a couple of times, but the times that I were there, I was able to see their new facility. They have anything you can think of in that facility, and the school to go on top of the football program is fantastic. I want to go into engineering probably, and so their engineering school is one of the best in the nation. So that is another reason that they're really high on my list."
[Ed. note: On Thursday in a follow-up message, Bollers also believes that Northwestern's football facility is one of the best in the nation.]
Nebraska: "So Nebraska was also another offer early on for me. Our relationship is growing into something that's really great. Me and Coach (Erik) Chinander, we get along really well, along with me and Coach (Scott) Frost and the new outside linebackers coach, Coach (Mike) Dawson, who I've only met a couple of times. But the times that I have met him and talked with him, it's been really fantastic. I also know ... a couple of guys that are on the team and a couple of the (2021) commits like (offensive guard) Henry Lutovsky, (offensive tackle) Teddy Prochazka, (linebacker) Chris Paul, Jr. All those guys, we were pretty tight throughout the entire recruiting process, staying up-to-date on what each other was doing and stuff like that. So I've already got a good relationship with some of the players and also some of the recruits."
Alabama: "Alabama is Alabama, right? Arguably one of the best teams in college football every single year. That brings them up really high because they're a team that can get it done. Without being able to see them, they've done a good job trying to connect with me through Zoom meetings and stuff. I actually just got off the phone with their head trainer and some of the guys that are on his staff talking about all that stuff like recovery and peak performance and whatnot. I've talked with academics and I've talked with Coach (Nick) Saban and their strength staff, and all that stuff, so that they can give me a brief outline of what actually goes on there. They've done enough that I put them in my top six."
Cal: "Cal has one of the best engineering schools in the nation. I actually think it's ranked third in the nation of engineering schools. So that was a big factor to me. I've only visited there once, but it was enough to make me want to come back again and put them in my top six. Because Coach (Andrew) Browning, the d-line coach, when we first sat and we broke down some film, I could tell that he was really passionate about what he does and that he knows how to coach up his guys. I've got a good relationship with Coach Browning, I've got a good relationship with Coach (Justin) Wilcox. We stay in contact, and yeah, I definitely want to get back out there."
In terms of official visits, Bollers has three locked in at the moment. According to the four-star recruit, he plans to go to California, Wisconsin and Iowa State on the first, second and third weekends of June, respectively.
As to when he would like to announce his decision, it depends upon how his schedule is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If all of that goes as planned and I'm able to take June and July official visits, then I'll probably have a decision made before my senior season so that I'll be able to try and enroll early."