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Badgers Recruiting

4-star TE adds to Badgers impressive 2019 recruiting class

Wisconsin continues to impress on the 2019 recruiting trail, adding 4-star tight end Hayden Rucci to the mix on Monday morning



The ink isn’t even ready on the fax machine for national signing day to finish up the 2018 class, but already the Wisconsin Badgers 2019 recruiting class is off to a flying start.

On Monday morning that class grew by one, as 4-star tight end Hayden Rucci gave his verbal pledge to the Badgers.

Rucci is the No. 11 ranked tight end in the country and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Pennsylvania. He’s also fourth 4-star player in the 2019 class to give a verbal commitment to the Badgers.

He also chose the Badger over offers from the likes of Michigan State, Duke, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Boston College, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana and others.

At 6-5, 225 pounds before he even enters the second half of his junior year, Rucci is in a good position to grow in to his frame and continue to show the pass-catching skills that are on display in his highlight film. Most importantly, he shows an ability to get in the trenches and block as well.

Perhaps my favorite highlight comes at about the one-minute mark here, as Rucci goes out to block on a run play and drives some poor linebacker about 20 yards down field before pancaking him for good measure.

If ever there was a high-skilled tight end that fit what Wisconsin likes to do at the position, Rucci is exactly that fit. His combination of blocking and being able to split out make him a dangerous prospect at the next level. It doesn’t hurt that he is a more finished prospect already than anyone not named Kyle Penniston was coming out of high school.

Rucci’s commitment isn’t just big for the position, it continues a start to the 2019 class that could see the Badgers one of the big players on the national recruiting scene. As we speak, Wisconsin has eight commitments in the class and half of them are 4-star players. Currently Wisconsin has the No. 1 ranked class in the Big Ten and the No. 3 ranked class in the country.

That’s what happens when you identify guys that are high priority targets early on in the process and have their verbal commitments early on as well.

Wisconsin’s eight commitments also has a larger effect on the recruiting processes of other players UW is targeting. While eight players doesn’t seem like a lot, by out count, the Badgers only have spots available for 14-16 players at the most. As the roster stands today, Wisconsin would have 79 of the 85 allowed scholarship players in the fold (including the 8 commits for 2019).

It means, the timelines for players who really want to be a Badger could be moving up. Additionally, it means the Badgers have a bigger luxury to lock in on top targets and really find out where they stand. Getting many of their top targets to commit this early is new territory for the Badgers, but it could be the cushion they need to really lock down a top class that could change things in a big way in Madison.

The excitement over this class is understandable and Rucci’s addition shows that the momentum is real for the Badgers. However, we’ve got nearly 11 months to go before the first signing day for this class and that means a lot of work still needs to be done to keep this group together.

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Badgers Recruiting

Badgers add sleeper DE to 2020 class



It is official visit season for college football recruiting once again. All it took was the first of those weekends for the Wisconsin Badgers to add to their 2020 class.

On Monday morning, Cincinnati (Ohio.) Roger Bacon defensive end James Thompson Jr. announced his commitment to the Badgers following his official visit over the weekend.

Wisconsin was the first Power 5 offer for Thompson when they offered back in July and that recognition was very helpful in getting him on campus and eventually to verbally commit.

Navy had also offered Thompson according to his 247Sports profile.

He is the 15th name to verbally commit to the Badgers program and the second defensive end, joining Cade McDonald (Hudson, Wis.) in the mix.

Thompson’s film screams a ton of potential and a good bit of athleticism. Most importantly, he screams one of those under the radar players who the Badgers excel at identifying and getting the most out of once on campus.

At 6-5 and 255 pounds, the frame is there for him to build off of physically.

Wisconsin sits at No. 28 nationally and No. 5 in the Big Ten in the 2020 recruiting cycle and has 15 total verbal commits.

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Badgers Recruiting

Acker becomes Badgers 2nd 2021 football commit



It didn’t take long for the Wisconsin Badgers to know that local product Jackson Acker was a kid they wanted. It also didn’t take Acker long to know he wanted to play for the Badgers.

Shortly after earning an offer at camp this weekend, the Verona running back pledged to the Badgers.

In doing so, he became the second commit in the 2021 class and the second in-state product to make his verbal pledge to the Badgers following in the footsteps of JP Benzschawel.

According to Badger247, Acker was timed at 4.63 in the 40-yard dash at camp and comes in at 6-1 and 214 pounds after his sophomore season.

Acker ran for 528 yards and seven touchdowns in his sophomore season as well.

Given UW’s history at running back, this type of an early offer indicates the coaching staff seeing something big time in the player.

You can see that on his film, as he not only uses his speed, but has a big time ability to find creases and get up field quickly when he does find him.

Perhaps the most impressive thing on film is what he does in 1-on-1 situations. Instead of slowing down to try something fancy, Acker just punishes the defender and that is something the Badgers coaching staff loves.

You can see the old-school, bruising back that the Badgers have really missed as of late in him. It could be a nice thunder-and-lightning combination at work here with Acker in the fold.

It also means that the Badgers are likely looking for a pair of running backs in the 2021 class, because they are hard after some of the bigger names as well.

No matter what happens, clearly this coaching staff wasn’t afraid to offer the in-state product and take the chance of having him commit. That’s a strong belief in what they saw in person over limited tape so far to say the least.

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Badgers Recruiting

Badgers add in-state DE to 2020 class



Sometimes patience and hard work pay off. Such was the case for in-state defensive end Cade McDonald.

After an impressive showing at the Badgers camp this past weekend, the Hudson, Wis. native picked up an offer from the home state team. It took just a few days for McDonald to return the love and announce his commitment to the program.

On Monday, he made things official and became commitment No. 8 in the 2020 class for the Badgers according to Badger247.

Wisconsin was the only FBS offer for McDonald at the time of his commitment. Other schools that were after him included FCS schools like Illinois State, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The Badgers now have the No. 24 ranked class in the 2020 recruiting cycle per 247Sports team rankings.

McDonald becomes just the second defensive player to commit in this class as well, joining fellow in-state product Cole Dakovich on that side of the ball.

Overall, McDonald is a 2-star recruit and the No. 98 ranked defensive end in the country per 247Sports rankings.

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Badgers Recruiting

Badgers get commitment from 2020 OLB Cole Dakovich



The 209 football recruiting cycle hasn’t technically ended and already things are heating up quickly for the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers recruiting class.

A day after accepting a verbal pledge from in-state wide receiver Chimere Dike, the Badgers now have their 6th member of the 2020 class with Waukesha (Wis.) Catholic outside linebacker Cole Dakovich announcing his pledge on Twitter on Friday morning.

This was another quick recruiting life cycle, as UW offered on Saturday during their first junior day and Dakovich jumped on the offer a week later.

He is another under the radar recruit, with the Badgers offer being his only to date. However, that is more likely because Dakovich has played only one year of football since the 7th grade and it was a productive year at that.

In his first year back to playing football, Dakovich racked up 105 tackles, 18 for loss, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles. He also had 16 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown on the offensive side of the ball.

Wisconsin has a long and storied history of identifying these types of prospects and having them turn out well over their time in Madison.

He is not ranked by any of the scouting services out there, that’s how little football he has played to date.

The Badgers are now 11th nationally in the 2020 team recruiting rankings after some movement around the country yesterday.

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