Leo Musso thought that winning a third consecutive WIAA Division 2 state title last fall was the "icing on the cake" to his high school football career.

But the Waunakee senior running back admitted that accepting a scholarship offer from the University of Wisconsin Thursday night was the topper.

"It's definitely exciting, I couldn't be happier," said Musso, who received the offer from head coach Bret Bielema 24 hours earlier. "I just got off the phone with coach Bielema and told him 'I want to be a Badger.' 

"He said if I want to try running back, we'll give you a shot at running back. But he said he sees me as a safety. I told him I will do whatever they want me to do."

The 5-foot-10, 192-pound Musso rushed for 2,382 yards and 39 touchdowns as a senior to lead Waunakee to a second straight unbeaten season.

"He's really versatile and could play a lot of positions," Rice said of Musso, a two-time all-state selection who also competes in track and field and was a state qualifier in the 400-meter relay as a freshman and the 100 and 400 relay as a sophomore.

Musso, who has been timed at 4.59 in the 40-yard dash and has a 40-inch vertical leap, said he received an offer from Northern Illinois University and was planning to visit the University of Pittsburgh, which is now coached by former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chyrst.

"If I would have gone out to Pittsburgh this weekend, I think there would have been something there for me," Musso said. "But it came down to that I really wanted to play for Wisconsin."

Musso made the call after spending Thursday night mulling over the decision with teammate Jack Russell at the home of Waunakee head coach Pat Rice.

"We pulled out some whiteboards and listed the pros and cons for all the schools," said Musso, who called Bielema with the good news shortly after 10 p.m. "We decided Wisconsin was the place we want to be and hopefully we can make the state proud and make everyone proud."

Russell, a 6-1, 160-pound placekicker, said he was also invited to visit Pittsburgh this weekend but canceled a scheduled visit. He plans to honor an earlier verbal commitment to walk-on at Wisconsin.

In his only season as a starter, Russell was named a first-team All-State selection after making 69-of-70 extra points and 5-of-7 field goals — including a 48-yarder against Waterford at Camp Randall Stadium to help the Warriors win their third straight WIAA Division 2 state championship.

"We both had offers from Pitt but this just felt right," said Russell, who also had an offer from South Dakota State. "It was a long day but I think we made the right decision.

"Coach Bielema told me if I go out and win a spot this fall, I will have a scholarship for me next January. But if not, I'm guaranteed one after my second season. Also if there are any de-commitments, the next spot open I will be the first in line."

Rice was pleased that Musso and Russell asked for his involvement while pondering their decisions.

"I thought it was kind of neat that they would include me in that. I know the families had a huge part in it and the coaching staff. To try and help guide them through it was cool. It was fun," Rice said.

"We tried to keep it in perspective and how many people would like to be in this situation. I had my wife come down and throw her two cents in. I had (daughter) Mandy come in and throw her two cents in. We'll remember this day for quite a while. They're excited how it all worked out."


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