Over his three-year varsity football career, Watertown senior lineman John Clifford has matched up against future University of Wisconsin players such as Stoughton’s Jack Nelson and Grafton’s JP Benzschawel.
“Jack Nelson is one I remember,” Clifford said. “He was pretty good when I played against him, sophomore year for homecoming. Grafton, I didn’t go against him too many times, but he was good.”
One year from now, Clifford may go from adversary to teammate with these guys.
The University of Wisconsin officially offered the senior left guard a preferred walk-on offer on Thursday afternoon.
Clifford will make a decision on where he will play college football after the season. Nevertheless, it’s an honor.
“It was awesome,” Clifford said. “Definitely shocking. I did not expect it at all, It just came out of nowhere. I was at lunch. I called my parents right away and told and they were super stoked.”
Clifford has standing offers from a pair of Division II schools in Minnesota and a couple of lower level Division 1 programs. If he chooses Wisconsin, he is guaranteed a spot on the team and could earn a scholarship down the road if the program feels he has earned one.
He thanked Watertown football coach Benji Kamrath, who played at the University of Minnesota after an all-state prep career at Mayville, for helping him through the process.
Kamrath likes Clifford’s potential to play at the next level.
“That’s really exciting news, to get a preferred walk-on offer from a Big Ten school,” Kamrath said.
“It’s that much more special when it’s UW. John has bought in from switching from tight end to guard. He’s shown tremendous growth in just a few short weeks. He has a ton of potential to be an excellent college football player. They obviously feel the same.
“Their offensive line coach Joe Rudolph came and visited with John today and had a ton of good things to say about John.
“For him, he just needs to get better and continue to help the team win games. I am very proud of what he’s been able to accomplish so far.”