STRATFORD – It’s pretty typical for offensive and defensive linemen to operate in relative anonymity.
So it should come as no surprise that Stratford junior lineman Ben Barten prefers to avoid the spotlight.
Never was that more true than when Barten gave a verbal commitment to play football for the University of Wisconsin on Oct. 28.
Instead of lining up for interviews about the decision — he did talk with 247Sports.com — Barten is focused entirely on helping the Tigers get back to Camp Randall Stadium.
“I asked him, ‘What’s the deal? You’re a very outgoing kid,'” said Ben’s father, Todd Barten, of his son’s reluctance to talk about his commitment. “He’s like ‘I’m on a very good football team right now and everyone wants to know what’s going to happen two years from now.’
“At least he’ll talk about (the commitment) at home a little bit now. I think he’s glad (the decision) part is over.”
Barten anchors both lines for the Tigers, who have a rematch with Spencer/Columbus Catholic in the Division 5 state semifinals Friday in Medford.
At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds with great movement ability, Barten was starting to attract more and more interest from Division I recruiters.
South Dakota State and North Dakota State were the first schools to make contact. Then the University of Iowa reached out to him last May and offered him a scholarship.
The Hawkeyes coaching staff invited Barten down to check out the facilities, and he took pictures with some of the coaches.
At that point Barten realized his talents were wanted by Division I programs.
“I think Ben was a little shocked Iowa was so interested. He had no idea the Big Ten would be an option for him,” Todd Barten said.
Ben made four trips to the Iowa City campus over the summer. Hawkeyes offensive line coach and Iola-Scandinavia graduate Tim Polasek came to one of his games this fall.
He made a visit to Iowa for its game against Maryland on Oct. 20. The Hawkeyes won 23-0. Barten also gained some valuable insight into his own thought process.
“We were driving back and he told me ‘I don’t get the same feeling I get as when the Badgers do well,'” his dad said.
Ben received a scholarship offer from Wisconsin in September.
The next weekend Barten went on a visit to Wisconsin at the urging of Badgers lead recruiter Chris Haering.
He also met with current UW players Tyler Beach and David Edwards who his dad said were up front with Ben about what to expect if he came to Wisconsin.
After spending some time with associate head coach/offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Rudolph, he stopped in the office of head coach Paul Chryst.
Moments later Barten was committed to Wisconsin.
“I could tell his demeanor changed,” Todd Barten said. “I was a little surprised he decided to commit. His momma had tears in her eyes. I guess it didn’t shock me it was Wisconsin. Just more when it happened. I wasn’t sure he would tell (Chryst) at that time.”
Barten is the fourth commitment in the 2020 recruiting class for the Badgers. He joins fellow linemen Trey Wedig of Kettle Moraine, Stoughton’s Jack Nelson and Dylan Barrett of St. Charles, Ill.
There remains some debate as to which side of the football Barten is destined for in college. If Rudolph has his way, it’ll be as either a guard or center on offense.
Then again, it’s hard to ignore the impact Ben has made on the Tigers’ defense. He leads the team in tackles with 79, including 22 tackles for losses and six sacks.
His high school coach believes Barten can excel on either side of the ball.
“In college I see him playing center or guard for the Badgers, but I wouldn’t be surprised seeing him playing D,” Stratford coach Jason Tubbs said. “Ben is a great kid and football player. A high motor player and a very competitive player.
“I think (being recruited by Wisconsin) probably means more when we see kids wearing his Badgers jersey around school.”
Barten owns a Twitter acount but rarely tweets.
In fact, the only reason word got out he committed to the Badgers was because he told a friend who put it out on Twitter and tagged Ben.
Self-promotion is just not his style.
Denise and Todd Barten are just glad they’ll be able to watch their son play his college football relatively close to home after he graduates in 2020.
“Truthfully, we said a long time ago we hoped he would go to Stevens Point or Eau Claire and we’d be able to watch every game for three or four years,” Todd Barten said.
“This is beyond our wildest dreams.”