Jacobs’ tight end Grant Stec picks Wisconsin

Golden Eagles’ junior had more than 25 offers to pick from

Jacobs’ Nick True, right, and his teammate,  Grant Stec, left, celebrate a touchdown during a Fox Valley Conference football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, between Crystal Lake South and Jacobs at Crystal Lake South High School.

Jacobs tight end Grant Stec placed Wisconsin high on his list among the many prospective college football progams.

Stec was worried when Badgers coach Paul Chryst was fired in November. But new coach Luke Fickell and his staff quickly put Stec’s mind at ease.

Cincinnati had offered Stec, but it was not one of his top schools. Fickell did not miss on a second chance.

Stec, a 6-foot-6 3/4, 238-pound junior tight end, made an unofficial visit to Madison on Saturday and committed to become a Badger.

“I think think was my fifth or sixth time being up there,” Stec said. “The anticipation that was building up in my body, when you see the campus when you’re crossing the lake, it’s unbelievable. It feels like home to me. Just seeing the campus and people and everything felt like home to me.”

Stec announced his commitment Sunday on Twitter.

“First off, I would like to thank my family, coaches and friends for believing in me throughout this recruiting process,” Stec wrote. “It’s been a stressful yet exciting journey over the past year and a half. But after a great visit to Wisconsin and talking with Coach Fickell, Coach Guidugli and Coach Longo, along with the rest of the Wisconsin Football staff, I’m grateful to announce that I have committed to the University of Wisconsin-Madison!!!”

Stec had Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern as his top three choices. Even when Chryst was fired, Stec liked Wisconsin, it was just the matter of meeting a whole new coaching staff.

“When the new staff came, coach Gino Guidugli, the tight ends coach, came to my school and he was awesome,” Stec said. “He was a super easy-to-talk-to guy. He explained everything that was going on.

“Something big is going to happen with this program and they wanted me to be a part of it. As time went on, I met the new coaches. I felt like that was really special to text me or introduce themselves. They hadn’t talked to me as much.”

Stec, who has played varsity for three seasons, has 52 career catches with 11 touchdowns. Stec had more than 25 scholarship offers, making him the most highly recruited player in Jacobs history.

“I’m excited for Grant and his family. He’s always had a good feel there,” Zimmerman said. “A couple people had asked me, Wisconsin reporters, with the turnover in the coaches how that felt. When that happened, Grant said they were still in his top three. I’d reached out to the former tight end coach from Cincy to see if he was going over (to Wisconsin) and he wasn’t sure.

“He gave me the contact info of the guys who went with (Luke) Fickell. I got a hold of them and the tight ends coach and said, ‘We want to make sure there’s still mutual interest. Grant’s still interested in Wisconsin.’ And they were like, ‘Oh, my gosh, yes!’ It’s hard not to be interested in a four-star tight end. He did an unofficial visit this weekend and went up there and decided it felt right.”

Stec, who plays in a run-heavy offense and doesn’t get big receiving numbers, was an All-Area second-team selection. When the Eagles did throw, he was their most dangerous threat. He also made an impact at defensive end.

Stec feels blessed, but is happy the recruitment process is over. He had about 20 scholarship offers. Just after midnight Sept. 1, the first day NCAA coaches can call recruits, Stec had more than 30 text messages.

“It was crazy to me. Everything flew at me within the first few minutes of coaches being able to call me,” Stec said. “No disrespect toward any of the coaches, but me being a 17-year-old kid, it’s difficult for me to respond to every single text message that I get. I don’t want to leave a bad remark with all the coaches.

“Nobody besides a small amount of people in the world go through this and have this opportunity to play at the next level. It was pretty stressful with coaches coming in. It’s been crazy.”

Zimmerman said Stec played at 225 pounds in the high school season and has put on weight with his workouts.

“It’s an exciting time for Grant,” Zimmerman said. “He played at about 225 during the season. He weighed in at 238 last week. He’s been working hard in the weight room. He’s hit it real hard. He’s working his butt off with the rest of those kids.”