Two of the most dynamic playmakers in the Big Eight Conference are planning to take their talents to Big Ten schools.
Verona senior Haakon Anderson is planning to be a preferred walk-on at the University of Wisconsin, while Aubrey Dawkins has been asked to walk on at Michigan State.
Anderson is still awaiting acceptance into UW, but he’s confident he will be accepted “within the next couple of weeks.”
“I’ve talked with the coaching staff and met with them,” Anderson said. “They’ve detailed everything. I haven’t made any concrete commitment, but I’ve been assured nothing is really going to change.”
Anderson visited Wisconsin twice, as well as North Dakota, North Dakota State, Central Michigan, Dartmouth and Yale. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder did not have any full-ride scholarship offers, but he did have preferred walk-on agreements with the Badgers, Central Michigan, North Dakota State and Northern Iowa.
“At times I was worn down, but I tried to remind myself that not a lot many people are in the same position I am,” he said. “I didn’t want to take that for granted.
“I also appreciated not being on a visit every weekend. When you have so much on your plate already with schoolwork and athletics, certain things can fall by the wayside.”
The versatile Anderson played tight end, H-back, running back and wide receiver in Verona’s high-powered offense. He was a first-team all-Big Eight selection and honorable mention all-state honoree as a tight end/H-back in his senior season.
Anderson also received first-team all-conference honors as a defensive back in 2019, his first year playing safety since making the switch from linebacker.
He sees himself as a slot receiver or safety at Wisconsin, but said he has no preference on what position he ends up playing.
“A lot of times, preferred walk-ons come in as ‘athletes,’” Anderson said. “They like versatility, and they’ll see where I fit best on the team. I appreciate that more than them trying to mold me to fit one position.”
Anderson is hoping to join a list of elite walk-ons to have success at Wisconsin. On his first visit to the school, he was shown a list of walk-ons who went on to earn scholarships, including current defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, J.J. Watt, Mark Tauscher, Ryan Ramczyk and Jared Abbrederis.
“Nothing is guaranteed, but they told me I have an opportunity to compete just like everyone else,” Anderson said. “I really appreciated them being upfront with me.”
Anderson said he is planning to major in business administration.
“It wasn’t about playing in a certain conference. It was about being somewhere I felt at home,” he said. “At Wisconsin, they treated me just like everybody else. It’s a dream opportunity being so close to home with family able to come to games. Academically, it’s like a public Ivy (League) school, so it’s really the best of both worlds.”
Dawkins, a first-team all-conference wide receiver last season, has been accepted at Michigan State. The 6-foot-1, 170 pounder verbally committed to the Spartans in a Twitter post on Feb. 27, and will visit campus in East Lansing later this month to solidify his commitment.
New Michigan State coach Mel Tucker, who left Colorado for East Lansing last month, was a four-year letterwinner as a defensive back at Wisconsin (1990-94).