According to 2019 defensive lineman Gio Paez, the Wisconsin Badgers’ coaching staff wanted to ensure he had a great experience while officially visiting UW this past weekend and wanted to keep in contact before heading back home to North Carolina.
Getting home from the airport, Paez discussed with his mom, and with the spots filling up fast in this current recruiting cycle, he was sold.
“I called him around 7 o’clock,” Paez said. “When I got home from the airport with my mom, we kind of had the same idea. I know with recruiting that these spots are getting filled up fast, and I see it all over Twitter all the time. It’s not necessarily that I rushed it because I was unsure—I think I am absolutely 100 percent sure that this is what’s best for me. I don’t know, I was sold at the end of the day.”
“After I called coach ‘Nokes, he was really happy about it,” Paez added. “He said he’s fired up and he’s looking forward to having me be a part of the family.”
Paez joined 10 other prep recruits for Wisconsin’s class of 2019 on Sunday night and now is the second player from the state of North Carolina who plans to plan for the Badgers, joining athlete Marcus Graham.
Rated a three-star defensive lineman by 247Sports and Rivals, Paez used the word “genuine” twice while talking with B5Q about his visit. Once in overall terms about how the trip was “very family-oriented around the program on and off the field,” making Wisconsin an attractive option for him at the next level.
The second, when asked what really stood out about his trip, involved how the staff conducted themselves while he was in town.
“I feel like they didn’t try to give me sale pitches like usually recruiters and coaches and recruiters usually try to do,” Paez said. “They were kind of just like, ‘This is our school. We want to have you here.’ They treated me great, but they ... were very genuine and they expressed their interest, and it led me to this.”
Running back Jonathan Taylor and cornerback Madison Cone hosted Paez, who according to 247Sports holds offers from N.C. State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Kentucky, among 15 other programs.
Despite arriving late into Madison on Friday due to some flight troubles with American Airlines, Paez attended similar events like many Wisconsin commits and uncommitted recruits experienced the past couple of weekends in Madison. That included trying on the Wisconsin uniforms, taking a boat ride on Lake Mendota, and having dinner at head coach Paul Chryst’s house.
“It was really family-orientated,” Paez said of the dinner. “He lives in a nice, big home, but I could see he spends his money very humbly, and I just love that aspect of all of that.”
There was also a player panel that allowed recruits and parents to ask current Badgers Taylor, wide receiver A.J. Taylor, defensive linemen Bryson Williams and Olive Sagapolu, and others about the lifestyle on campus among other topics.
Looking ahead, Paez mentioned Wisconsin views himself as a defensive end.
“Being that they run a 3-4 [defense], they have a primary and secondary gap that each defensive lineman has and they think I can shed blocks and I get great extension when I play,” Paez said. “That was the most attractive part of my game.”
Joining Paez in Madison last weekend were Wisconsin commits Julius Davis and Leo Chenal, along with players still open in their recruiting process. The latter grouping included four-star linebackers Lance Dixon and Nick Heinrich, cornerback Semar Melvin, and linemen Etinosa Reuben and Rodas Johnson. (Ed. note: Melvin committed to Wisconsin on Monday.)
Paez noted everyone who visited this past weekend “really clicked,” with he and Johnson, a four-star lineman from Columbus, Ohio, hitting it off with a quick friendship.
“That’s my dude. He’s hilarious,” Paez said.
Of course, with Davis and Chenal, the two Wisconsin commits were in Paez’s ear once he landed in Madison.
“As soon as I touched down there, they tried selling me,” Paez said. “Julius is probably the most active recruiter I’ve ever met in the school that’s not even involved in the coaching program. Literally, he loves that place with all of his heart, and he did a great job.”
After spending the weekend with his now-future teammates and taking in the university and campus, Paez made the call to Wisconsin. With his mom and stepfather accompanying him on the trip, they approved of his decision to wear cardinal and white.
“They loved it just as well,” Paez said. “We prayed about it, and they think this is the best fit for me.”