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Badgers football: Florida safety Austin Hudson needed little time to impress

2013-06-29T04:50:00Z Badgers football: Florida safety Austin Hudson needed little time to impressTOM MULHERN | Wisconsin State Journal | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 madison.com

When Tampa (Fla.) Plant safety Austin Hudson went up to the office of University of Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda after participating in the Badgers' one-day high school camp on Monday, he wasn't under the impression he was about to receive a scholarship offer.

Hudson had his dad to thank for his muted expectations.

While Hudson was wowing the UW coaches with his workout numbers — including a time of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash — Aranda quietly told Hudson's dad an offer would be forthcoming.

"I knew if I performed well at camp, it could happen," Hudson said in a phone interview Thursday night.

"When it did happen, I was super surprised because my dad actually told me they weren't going to (offer) — even though he knew they would. Coach Aranda talked to him while I was doing drills and said they'd offer me, but my dad told me they wouldn't, because he wanted it to be extra special. So we go up in the office and I'm not expecting anything.

"All of a sudden, coach Aranda (made the offer) and I got a big smile on my face and I looked at my dad. I just had the nastiest look on my face. It's a good memory."

Hudson, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, gave an oral commitment to the Badgers on Thursday night.

His only other offers were from Holy Cross, Florida Tech and Jacksonville State, but Hudson expressed gratitude to those smaller schools for their consideration.

"I really want to take this opportunity to thank them for recruiting me," Hudson said. "I really respect their coaches and I'm really thankful for what they brought. I hope the best for them."

Given Hudson's performance at the camp, it's likely other offers from major programs would have been forthcoming.

He also ran the pro agility drill (5-10-5 format) in 3.99 seconds and had jump of 10 feet, 7 inches in his first broad jump ever.

In addition to the physical skills, Hudson is smart. He plans to graduate early and enroll at UW in January.

He said his high school runs a complex defense that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used in winning the Super Bowl during the 2002 season.

"It's a lot of checks, based on what the offense does," Hudson said. "So, you always have an advantage over them."

UW had a double dose of bad news at safety recently: redshirt freshman Reggie Mitchell, the projected starter at free safety, transferred to Pittsburgh and junior college transfer Donnell Vercher, another potential starter, was reportedly denied admission to UW and will play for Fresno State.

So the Badgers needed some good news at the position. Since Hudson will have a chance to go through 2014 spring drills, he has a chance to see the field quickly.

"I'm never going to say that too early, because you've always got to work. You never know," he said. "I'm just going to work. Everything will come. If you work hard, it will all come."

The UW coaches made it clear to Hudson that they needed to upgrade the athleticism at safety.

"That's how the UW coaches described they needed for their scheme — an athletic safety," Hudson said. "They thought I fit the role well, but it's not only my athleticism that makes me a good player.

"I can make calls fast; I think fast. That's a good contributor to the offer."

Hudson and his dad arrived in Madison a day early, so they had time to see a good portion of the city. They arrived at registration on Monday an hour early, then toured the athletic facilities.

All of that made an enthusiastic Hudson feel secure in making his commitment.

"It's the best time, the best moment of my life," he said.

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