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Bielema Hires Azzanni

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

It's official: Zach Azzanni is joining the Wisconsin Badgers coaching staff as the new wide receivers coach. The Wisconsin Athletic Department released a statement earlier today announcing the hire.

"My family and I are ecstatic about coming to Madison and joining the Badgers," Azzanni said in a statement. "I've known Coach Bielema for a number of years and I jumped at the opportunity to become a part of one of the Big Ten's best programs. I look forward to getting started and continuing the great tradition at Wisconsin."

Azzanni, 35, comes to Wisconsin after spending a year as Western Kentucky's co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He's previously coached at Florida, his alma mater Central Michigan, and Bowling Green.

"Zach is a great fit for Wisconsin," head coach Bret Bielema said. "He is a terrific coach who stresses fundamentals and is also a great recruiter. His coaching philosophy, personality and character fit perfectly with what we do here and how we do it. I've known Zach for a number of years and I'm very excited to be able to add him to our staff."

Azzanni is regarded as a strong recruiter, and worked for Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer at Florida and Bowling Green. His addition should give the Badgers a boost in keeping high school prospects committed to the Badgers in short term until National Signing Day on Feb. 1, as well as potentially giving Wisconsin more of a presence in Florida. Other potential states for Azzanni to focus on would be Michigan or Ohio, as he has strong ties to the area and the Badgers usually compete for recruits in that area.

Azzanni will be put to the test early in his tenure at Wisconsin, as the Badgers are low on experience at wide receiver in 2012. Jared Abbrederis will be a junior in 2012, and is the only returning wideout with meaningful experience. We'll soon see if Azzanni's influence helps younger wide receivers like Jeff Duckworth and Fred Willis take on bigger roles next season.