ELMWOOD --- When you get to eat breakfast with the big cheese, how can you say no?

A morning meal with University of Wisconsin Head Coach Brett Bielema and Assistant Coach Paul Chryst helped convince Elmwood's Cody Rose that Madison was the place for his football career to continue.

Rose signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at UW-Madison Wednesday morning.

He becomes the first EHS football player since Tom Mountin to play for UW-Madison in the early 1980s.

The preferred status

The Elmwood High School quarterback will attend UW as a preferred walk-on, meaning that, while he will have to pay his own way, he will play on the team like any scholarship player. UW has 20 such walk-on players to go with their 85 scholarship players. Rose was one of six preferred walk-ons signed by UW on National Signing Day, along with their 17 scholarship players.

Rose turned down a full-ride scholarship offer from the University of North Dakota to play for the Badgers. He had 14 scholarship offers from Division I and Division II schools around the country. Wisconsin had been recruiting him since he attended their football camp last summer.

"I look at is as a great challenge, but also an exciting opportunity to play football in the Big Ten and for one of the best teams in the country," Rose said. "I don't see it as taking a risk."

Rose attended UW's summer camp and impressed coaches there with his athletic ability. They kept in contact with him during the regular season and EHS obliged as the coaching sent videotapes of his games to Madison. It was in the last few weeks that UW coaches began to step up their recruiting of Rose. Besides the breakfast meeting, UW Assistant Coach Bob Bolstad visted Elmwood as well. Cody also made unofficial visits to Madison several times during the fall and attended Badger home games.

"It was a hectic and very intense process, said Cody's father Barry, who is the Superintendent of the Elmwood School District, played football in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and went to school at UW-Stevens Point. "The last few weeks was finalizing what had been just initial interest up until then. They really showed that they wanted him and he wanted to play football in the Big Ten and play for one of the best programs in the country."

The boy can play

Rose is a two-time, first-team all-conference player, first team all-region and honorable mention all-state. He threw for 1,291 yards his senior year for the Raiders and 18 touchdowns. He also ran in 11 touchdowns and had zero interceptions all season. Rose is listed at 6-4, 185 pounds and runs the 100-meter dash in :11.1 seconds.

"Elmwood may be a small school, but when you're 6-4, 185 and can run and jump like he can you're going to get noticed," Raider Head Coach Jerry Hannack said. "The summer camp helped him catch UW's eye, but it was incumbent upon on us as coaches to make him a better quarterback in his senior season and he was better. Throwing zero interceptions for an entire season is pretty impressive, no matter what level you play at."

Rose said the Wisconsin coaching staff will give him a shot to compete for the quarterback position, but he said he may also try-out for a wide receiver slot and may play on special teams as well.

Also signing an LOI from the area Wednesday was Pepin's Josh Murray, who will play at the University of North Dakota on a full scholarship. Rose's Elmwood teammate, Ryan Mountin, will try-out for the team at Minnesota State-Mankato next fall, while Elmwood's Lucas Wolf is still deciding on which school to attend.

Rose has a 3.8 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. He plans major in biology. He'll be playing in the WFCA All-Star game in Oshkosh this summer.