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Badgers see enough to offer Hudson

TAMPA — In most of the footage on Austin Hudson's brief highlight film, there are coaches and backups standing behind the offensive formation.

There are rarely any fans in the bleachers. Most of the "opponents" are actually teammates, wearing similar uniforms. And the majority of Hudson's big plays are met with little fanfare or excitement.

That's because most came during Plant's practices and scrimmages, rather than games.

No matter: Wisconsin saw enough of Hudson in those snippets of film, spring practices and during a recent visit to the campus to offer him a scholarship. Hudson rewarded that faith in his modest resume by committing to the Badgers.

"I was always patient with the recruiting process," Hudson said. "Those guys took a chance on me."

Hudson and Ray Raulerson (Tennessee) confirmed their oral commitments Thursday during a short ceremony at the school. The Panthers now have three rising seniors who announced their college choices before the season, including linebacker Andrew Beck (Texas).

There will likely be others in the coming months, including quarterback Colby Brown, cornerback Mazzi Wilkins and offensive lineman Richard Bush.

Perhaps the most unlikely college prospect of the bunch is Hudson, who started only one game as a junior and missed much of the season with a sports hernia, a medical condition characterized mostly by chronic groin pain.

In that one start, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Hudson had seven receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown in a 52-20 victory over Jefferson. In that game, Hudson suffered the injury that effectively ended his season.

But Hudson remained an intriguing recruit, something confirmed over and over when college coaches visited Plant in the offseason. Hudson's performance in spring practices and a one-day camp last month at Wisconsin — where he reportedly ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash and had a 40-inch vertical jump — was enough to earn his offer.

"He didn't have a lot of junior film," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "But one word that came up often when guys would come watch him play in the spring, they would come over to me and say, 'Coach, he's a freak.' "

His more highly-regarded teammate, the 6-5, 285 Raulerson, took a more traditional route to a major offer.

Raulerson's family moved to Tampa before his freshman year, hoping to get their son, then 6-4, 220, into Plant. His father Sam Raulerson, a former linebacker at Florida, had been impressed by what he saw of the Panthers.

So when Weiner and the Panthers' coaching staff asked Ray to move from quarterback to offensive line, there was little fuss from the Raulersons.

"I told them that one day they would thank me," Weiner said.

That day was Thursday.

Baseball signings

Gaither graduate Hunter Henderson, one of the area's most versatile baseball players last spring, has signed with Florida A&M. Henderson ranked fourth in Hillsborough County with a 0.73 ERA and hit .333 with 12 RBIs. He was essentially the top player on a team that included shortstop Oscar Mercado, who went on to become a second-round pick in the MLB draft last month.

Steinbrenner graduate Logan LaPace, the pitching ace for one of the bay area's top teams this spring, has signed with Eastern Michigan, according to Warriors coach John Crumbley. As a senior and fourth-year varsity member, LaPace went 7-2 with a 1.67 ERA and 34 strikeouts in little more than 50 innings. He also earned the program's first playoff victory, 6-1 over Seminole in the region quarterfinals.

Jesuit catcher Ryan McCullers orally committed to Middle Tennessee State, according to Tigers coach Richie Warren. McCullers hit .424 with 26 RBIs and 28 runs scored as a junior. He also earned recognition for his defense at the Perfect Game USA 2013 National Showcase last month in Minneapolis. He's the younger brother of former Jesuit star and 2012 MLB first-round draft pick Lance McCullers Jr.

Joel Anderson can be reached at janderson@tampabay.com or on Twitter @jdhometeam.

Badgers see enough to offer Hudson 07/26/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 10:23pm]
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