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“I don’t want to replace what the image is at Wisconsin,” Bielema said. “It is what it is. But the more we can kind of sneak up on people a little bit, that helps us.”

Given Russell’s unique situation, Bielema and his staff tried to get creative in recruiting.

Bielema said he lobbied the NCAA to let him go visit Wilson’s mother; Bielema said she has a daughter at home and was unable to go along on Wilson’s official visit to Madison. Bielema also wanted to go watch Wilson play baseball for the Colorado Rockies’ Single-A team.

The NCAA said no to both requests, but the Badgers still got their man.

Wilson is expected to arrive on campus next week and begin taking summer graduate classes soon after. NCAA rules keep coaches from working with players during the summer, so it will be up to Wilson’s new teammates to bring him up to speed on the offense.

Even Tolzien has volunteered to help _ he’s working out in Madison and hoping to catch on with an NFL team after the lockout ends _ although Bielema said Wisconsin is checking with the NCAA to see if that’s allowed.

It’s a lot for Wilson to take in, but Bielema believes he can handle it.

Wilson is engaged, and also dealt with the death of his father last year _ signs, Bielema said, of his maturity.

“I wouldn’t have gone down this path if it wasn’t someone that I really respected as a person, that I thought could handle the situation,” Bielema said.