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Academics, success and values lead 2019 commit Dean Engram to Wisconsin

B5Q catches up with the three-star ATH, who will play CB at UW.

It’s not every day an NFL franchise publicly congratulates a high school player on verbally committing to a college program, but on June 11, the Baltimore Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh tweeted a warm message to new Wisconsin commit Dean Engram.

“It means a lot just to get recognized like that, but I take all the congratulations the same way,” Engram told B5Q on June 12. “I’m just very appreciative of everyone who’s supported me throughout this whole process. It just feels great to get to this point.”

Engram’s father, Bobby--once a Penn State standout receiver and 15-year NFL veteran who caught 650 passes in his career--is currently Baltimore’s wide receiver’s coach. With both his mother and father traveling with him on his official visit to Wisconsin a couple of weekends ago, they approved their son’s decision to wear the cardinal and white.

“My mom and dad were really supportive of my decision and they were completely on board with it,” Engram said. ”They love Madison, too, so that’s good.”

Now setting his own path, Engram publicly announced his verbal commitment to Wisconsin back on June 8, with several key factors standing out about his collegiate choice.

“Academically, it is a really good school,” Engram said. “They’re a consistently winning program, and basically they have a lot of values in that program similar to my high school. I found that to be really, really influential to me in my decision, so that was a big part of my decision.”

According to Engram, contact with the Wisconsin coaching staff started at the end of his sophomore year, and it was a visit to UW a few months ago that made the program stand out.

“I really took interest when I took my unofficial there in March, I believe it was,” Engram said. ”Then my official was really good, and just checked all the boxes I really wanted it to, so that’s what really led up to the commitment for me.”

Engram’s official visit the weekend of June 1 revolved around hanging out with players who showed him the campus, going to a car show in downtown Madison and going on a boat ride, along with having dinner at head coach Paul Chryst’s house.

There was also time with the coaching staff, particularly with defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.

According to the three-star recruit, Wisconsin is looking at him on the defensive side of the ball as a cornerback. He participated in meetings with Leonhard alongside fellow new commit, cornerback James Williams.

“Well, he showed me a lot of techniques that they work on,” Engram said. “A lot of their spring practices and things like that, and he showed me some film of some similar guys from their program like [Sojourn] Shelton, [Natrell] Jamerson, showed me some film of Nick Nelson from last year. We just went over a lot of game film and the techniques that he taught and how they were used in the game.”

Engram, from Washington D.C., is utilized on offense as a wide receiver and as a defensive back, along with being a threat in the return game on special teams. Gonzaga College High School head coach Randy Trivers noted Engram, who first met the recruit in the summer of 2014 as an eighth grader, possesses a “very strong package” of athleticism and intelligence plus a work ethic that allowed him the opportunities to play college football.

“He’s dynamic in the return game, so as you said you watched some of his video, so you see him in the return game as a punt returner and a kickoff returner,” Trivers said on Tuesday, who also mentioned Engram is a team captain and will be a four-year starter. “But then you see him in the secondary playing corner and safety. Then you see him on offense, playing out wide, playing in the slot, even playing in the backfield sometimes, so he does a lot of different things because of his skills allow him to do that, but his mind as well. So he’s been very impactful for us.”

To Engram, rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals, one of his biggest on-the-field assets currently is being a competitor.

“When it comes down to it, I just really know how to win in situations and I like to be aggressive on the field,” he said. ”I know a lot about football, so I feel like I have a football IQ higher than most. Going into my senior year, I really want to work on my technique and leadership skills this year, do anything I can to help my team and things like that.”

Along with that competitive drive, Trivers feels Engram’s leadership qualities will stand out when he gets to Madison.

“One thing that people are going to see when Dean comes to Wisconsin is he’s a young man that can be a great leader,” Trivers said. ”He’s also highly competitive, so it’s hard to know how competitive a players is unless you’re really there with him on a daily basis and you can feel it, you can see it, you can hear it. He’s a very strong competitor as far as embracing any challenge that stands in front of him with regard to opponents. Dean is not one that will back down from any challenge.

“I think Dean is going to bring another quality that is hard to tell on videotape is as a teammate, so his real desire and love and care to play hard for the guys around him and really, as part of that leadership piece as well, but really being a really good teammate is another quality that he brings.”

Since committing, Engram has spoken with the other class of 2019 commits via their group chat, while also sharing a similarity with tight end Hayden Rucci. Both Engram and Rucci’s fathers played at Penn State, with their sons now slated to head west to play at Wisconsin.

“I actually met Hayden on my unofficial, because we both went at the same time, so that was pretty cool,” Engram said.

Now preparing for his final prep season, Engram is zeroed in on what’s ahead this fall.

“No visits for me unless I go back to Wisconsin, but I’m really just focusing on this football season and my senior year.”