QB Q&A with 2023 Wisconsin commit Cole LaCrue
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I chatted with Wisconsin’s 2023 quarterback commit Cole LaCrue (Stats) about the recent coaching changes and what Badgers fans are getting from their future QB in the first edition of the QB Q&A. He is our very first guest on the QB Q&A because - well, I’m Badgers fan and also very selfish. And I thought it would be interesting to talk with a quarterback recruit who went through the ups and downs of multiple surprise coaching changes.
The article was edited for length and clarity, leaving out the parts where I said, “Still there?” and “Can you hear me?” as my lifelong battle with the internet continues.
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This interview originally published Dec. 15, 2022
You’re coming off a big recruiting weekend in Madison, so what was that experience like for you?
It was very informative or me. Me and [Wisconsin offensive coordinator] Phil Longo really connected and introduced ourselves to each other, picking each other’s brain. I met with Coach Fickell in person again, which was good, and I met most of the other coaches they’re bringing on staff. It was good to see the town of Madison and be able to fully tour it, and I’m excited about it. I think Camp Randall is getting a stud in me, and I can’t wait for next fall to happen.
What was the difference in your visit this time around with the new coaching staff?
They lost last time, so the mood around them wasn’t really good after losing to Washington State when I was up there. In my first visit, they showed me around the campus, but I didn’t really get to see the town as much as I wanted to. This time, it was good to see what the nightlife looks like and what it looks like to be a real student. It was good to experience what life is going to look like next month.
When you committed, Jim Leonhard was the interim head coach. Did it feel like a risk committing at a time without a permanent head coach in place?
I committed to Wisconsin based on the fact they told me Jim Leonhard was going to be the guy. I definitely took a risk, but I knew I wanted to play there no matter who was the coach, and I’m happy with how it turned out. I wish I could still play for Coach Leonhard and wish he stayed on staff, but I fell in love with the facilities, I fell in love with the stadium, I fell in love with the fans and the people. That’s really what convinced me in my visit that this is the place I want to suit up for the next four years.
Was it made clear to you Jim Leonhard would be the guy?
Yeah, that’s what everyone was telling me. Even Leonhard kinda told me that too. He said we’re going to do something special around here and change it up. I remember that phone call when I realized this is the place I want to go. On the Sunday morning Fickell was announced, I was worried until I heard from them on that Tuesday. Life has been good ever since.
What were your original thoughts when it was announced Luke Fickell is likely to be the head coach, and how did you find out?
I got a phone call right when it came out. My uncle called me and asked if I saw who the coach is going to be. I figured they finally announced Leonhard, but then he said it’s going to be Luke Fickell. I was really worried to be honest with you because I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t know how I stand there. I actually started texting other coaches because I didn’t know what was going on, but once I hopped on the phone with them on that Tuesday, they reiterated they want me to be the guy, loved my film and see the greatness in me. It was great to hear that from them, and I’ just excited for what we can do. After talking with Coach Fickell, he’s a guy who knows how to coach, and we’re excited about it.
Was it Luke Fickell who gave you the call on that Tuesday?
I was actually preparing for state week, and my coach held my phone during practice. Once he saw Coach Fickell was calling, he told me to get out of here and talk to him. That’s when he reiterated they really love the film, said we’re going to do something special here and it’s a new era. I came back out with a big smile and said, ‘On Wisconsin’ and let’s go win a state championship.
And you did win that championship, finishing off your senior year with a state title.
It’s everything you dream about, going 14-0 and winning a state championship in a big stadium and doing it in front of my old seats (his family had Denver Broncos season tickets), it was really special and a memory I will always carry for the rest of my life.
Colorado offered you a scholarship to stay inside the state. How close did you come to committing there?
It was between Colorado, Tulane and Wisconsin. I knew I was going to Wisconsin, but of course I just did a top three to look cool. I was a Buffs fan, and their fight song is the first song I ever learned. It’s good for them getting a guy who can turn things around. I think they can do great things with Deion Sanders, but I know I made the right decision and I’m sticking with it. Ever since my commitment, I gained more and more interest, but I think Wisconsin is the place for me.
I read this week you have been told you’re going to be the only quarterback in Wisconsin’s 2023 class, is that still likely to be the case?
Yeah. I think they’re going to bring in more transfers, but they said they want me to be the guy. Obviously, competition makes everyone better, but I’ll be the only guy in this recruiting class.
Do you enjoy the recruiting process?
It’s very stressful to be honest you. Over the summer, I was waiting on schools that were waiting on one kid to make a decision. If he didn’t go there, then I was the next man up. Of course with all of those schools, that kid did commit, and that happened three or four times. I think the recruiting trips and being able to go on the visits were really fun. For me personally, it’s been very stressful, but I play better with stress, so that’s why I think I had a good senior year.
Who were those schools?
I talked with Oregon State for a while and thought I was going to go there as well as UNLV and Utah State. I talked with UCLA a little bit. Recently, there have been more schools after I committed and I won’t publicize those, but I’ve had multiple Big Ten schools and an ACC school.
What kind of player is Wisconsin getting as its 2023 QB a week before National Signing Day?
They are getting a playmaker, and they’re getting a winner. I’m not your typical 7-on-7 quarterback who sits on the pocket and doesn’t like contact. I can do that so if you want me to, I can dice you up that way. I’m a guy defenses have to think about. If you want to rush six, that’s cool because I know where the hot routes are, and I know how to destroy you that way. I’ll take a hit if it means making play. If you want to sit back and put eight guys in coverage, that’s cool because I’ll run all over you.
It’s the heart I have that differentiates me from other guys. I’m a guy that’s confident. Sometimes it’s called cocky, but I think at the quarterback position you have to have that confidence, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win a football game whether that means putting my body on the line and battling through injury. I’ll do it because I want to win that game.
They’re getting a guy who wants to win a Big Ten Championship, and they’re going to get a guy who gets them back to Rose Bowls. I want to be the guy who brings them a national championship.