UW football: Merrill tight end commits to Badgers

2010-04-15T23:02:00Z UW football: Merrill tight end commits to BadgersTom Mulhern | 608-252-6169 | tmulhern@madison.com madison.com

Sam Arneson was sitting in his enriched chemistry class at Merrill High School on Thursday morning when he got called out of class by football coach Tom Tourtillott.

"He said, `I've got a message for you I think you're going to like,' " Arneson said.

The message was from UW coach Bret Bielema, who had called at 8:30 a.m. to say he was offering Arneson a scholarship.

"I originally thought they were going to wait until seeing me at camp, maybe, to offer," Arneson said. "It was a little bit of a surprise (Thursday) that they actually offered."

Arneson didn't need much time to think about it. He also didn't need much time to find his parents, who are both teachers at the school. Dave Arneson is Sam's gym teacher and Marge Arneson is his homeroom teacher.

Bielema's message said to call back at noon and Sam Arneson jumped at the offer.

"This is a dream for every Wisconsin kid who has grown up (playing football)," Arneson said. "My dad played for the Badgers and this is always where I've seen myself going."

Dave Arneson, one of the best football players to ever come out of Clintonville High School, lettered for the Badgers in 1983 and 1984 as a tight end. That's the same position his son will play.

Sam Arneson has strong athletic bloodlines. The first person he called after making a decision was his maternal grandfather, Don Jirschele, who played football at Kentucky under Bear Bryant.

Several uncles, from Clintonville, were standout baseball players.

"They make fun of me for not playing baseball, actually," said Sam Arneson, who also plays basketball and is on the track and field team.

Arneson, 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, played tight end, linebacker and was also a long snapper last season. He caught 20 passes for 347 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. Merrill finished 11-2 last season and lost to Kimberly in the Division 2 semifinals.

"I think I'm a very good blocker, but, also, I think I have good ball skills," Arneson said. "I'm definitely a good receiver also."

There's a chance he could move to quarterback in the fall, to help his team.

He said he runs the 40-yard dash in about 4.7 seconds and he has a 4.0 grade-point average.

Not only is he excited about playing for the state school, he loves how the Badgers use their tight ends.

"The past couple years, especially, they've had some really good ones," he said. "I'm looking forward to hopefully working to be one of those."

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