If you would have asked Genoa’s two-way football lineman Michael Deiter about his sports dream four years ago, he would have talked a lot about hockey.
These days, the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder is locked in on football and will take his dream to the Big Ten Conference to a program with an established reputation for developing great offensive linemen.
Deiter verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin on Monday afternoon during the second day of the Badgers’ three-day camp he is attending in Madison.
“I’m really comfortable with the coaching staff, they have a great O-line tradition, they have great academics, and it just kind of feels like home,” Deiter said. “It was really cool committing while I’m here. I told coach [Gary] Andersen today.
“I’m really glad to get this over with now, because I won’t have to worry about it anymore.
So how does a small-town player from Genoa gain notice from a Big Ten power?
“You just need a great [high school] coach to promote you,” Deiter said, “and then, if you work hard and play hard, you’re going to get noticed. I just kept working at it, and just kept growing.
“This means a lot. It’s what I always wanted to do. At first [the dream] was hockey, but then I stated playing football and I wanted it to be football.”
The Comets’ rising senior started at left tackle on offense and doubled as a tackle on defense last season. His 58 tackles and nine sacks as a junior helped earned him a spot on the All-Ohio second-team defense in Division IV.
At Wisconsin, Deiter said he has been recruited to play at guard on offense.
“The best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached in my career was Blake Lingruen at Liberty Center,” Genoa head coach Tim Spiess said. “Michael is 3 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Blake was, and I personally think he has a little bit higher ceiling, and Blake had a great career at Wake Forest.”
Spiess said the time was right for Deiter to make his choice.
“He’s very excited about the opportunity he’s gotten,” Spiess said. “We talked about targeting five schools [Wisconsin, Nebraska, Toledo, Bowling Green, and Georgia Tech], and each of those schools made an offer.
“He weighed his options, and I told him there’s no sense waiting. If this is what you want, let’s pull the trigger. He met with coach Andersen on [Sunday and Monday], and his numbers at the camp were off the charts. He showed so much agility and speed that it was an easy decision for Wisconsin [to offer].”
Deiter, who will turn 17 in September, seems to have a high upside. He runs the 40-yard dash in 5.22 seconds and bench presses 315 pounds.
As a youth travel hockey player for the Toledo IceDiggers’ program a few years back, Deiter was a left winger for teams that won two state championships in their age bracket.
But, upon entering high school, with his combination of size, strength, and agility, it soon became apparent to Deiter that his athletic future was more likely to be spent off the ice.
“When the premier offensive-line school in the country is making you an offer, you have to ask whether you’re going to accept that challenge and follow through, or still look around,” Spiess said. “Ultimately, he made the best choice for himself.
“He was raised as a Wisconsin Badger fan. That was always his favorite college team, and [former Badger and current Houston Texans star defensive end] J.J. Watt has always been his favorite player. Wisconsin came into the recruiting picture fairly early.”
Deiter also received offers from Illinois, Miami (Ohio), and West Virginia.
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.