The Wisconsin Badgers hit early July 2017 and have already knocked out the 2018 football recruiting class. With a full fall ahead of them and new regulations allowing junior visits in the spring semester, the 2019 recruiting cycle is going to heat up fast.
With that in mind, let us fast-forward to what the 2019 recruiting cycle is likely to look like for Paul Chryst and Co.
The most important part of the what the 2019 class will look like is to understand what the makeup of the roster will look like coming up to the 2018 season. So, as we look to build the 2019 class, here is a look at how the roster will look like heading in to the 2018 season.
The biggest note is that the Badgers currently sit two over the scholarship limit of 85 players.
Obviously there will need to be and likely will be some attrition on the roster between now and December 2018 or February 2019. But, we can only deal with what is in front of us today.
1. Offensive Line
This is easily the No. 1 priority, both in terms of numbers and the actual players UW will see depart the program following the 2018 season. Right now, the Badgers stand to lose four players who have started games in the 2016 season and likely will start plenty more in Beau Benzschawel, Michael Deiter, Micah Kapoi and Jacob Maxwell. That’s not mention the potential that Kevin Estes will leave the program and throw open a fifth spot somewhere along the way here.
That’s a lot of fire power to not see on the offensive line and UW is likely going to try to hit the jackpot again in the 2019 class. UW has put out seven offers at the offensive tackle position already. While it is too early for a lot to be known about interest, one name to watch early on appears to be that of Grand Rapids (East), Mich. product Logan Brown. He is the No. 12 ranked offensive tackle in the class so far and has expressed real interest in UW to date.
Once again, we see the pattern of the Badgers targeting prospects that aren’t in the Detroit area wheel house for Michigan and Michigan State. It will be an interesting Midwest battle though for Brown, with Michigan and Wisconsin battling it out early in the 247Sports crystal ball predictions.
The Badgers have also yet to really evaluate the products in the state of Wisconsin and that will really change the board. However, you can expect a very high priority on this group of players.
2. Nose Tackle
Wisconsin will still be loaded up front and has some versatile pieces to the puzzle heading in to the future. However, the loss of not one, but two nose tackles following next season make this a paramount position of need for the Badgers. UW doesn’t have a really giant man to plug up the middle, so it will be interesting to see how this group shapes up on the recruiting trail.
To that end, Wisconsin already has extended offers to five defensive tackles in the class per 247Sports. Two of them — Tru Thompson and Siaki Ika — have already committed to Florida State and BYU respectively. That means three left, with Mazi Smith, the No. 6 ranked DT on the board along with Cincinnati, Ohio product Jowon Briggs (No. 9 DT) and Wichita Falls, Texas product Lloyd Murray Jr. (No. 21).
I wouldn’t expect any of these early offers to be on the final board just yet, but Briggs and Murray are going to be interesting to follow in their respective recruitments. Briggs has 247Sports crystal ball predictions in for Notre Dame already, but it is so early in the process.
Rafael Gagilanone is the only scholarship kicker on Wisconsin’s roster right now and that is likely to stay that way through the 2018 season. The bigger question will be if the lovable kicker will get an extra year of eligibility due to his injury this past season. Either way, this is a position that should be prioritized by the Badgers coaching staff.
The numbers may be tight, but in the end getting cover in case Gaglianone doesn’t get that extra year back is good and so is having a kicker in place as a redshirt if he does get that year back. Right now the Badgers don’t have any offers out and that’s a good thing in my book. I mean, like anyone knows if a kicker that is about to enter his junior season is really good or not. This one will take some evaluating in the fall and likely through the spring to figure out, but don’t be surprised to see some offers flying out in the coming year at this position.
4. Running Back
Wisconsin is going to lose two really decent options after the 2018 season in Taiwan Deal and Bradrick Shaw. There appears to be some decent depth behind them as well, but this is a group that will need to be re-stocked and should have a high-end running back as a priority on the recruiting trail.
It will forever baffle my mind as to why a top-ranked running back wants nothing to do with the Badgers program. Of course, factors like grades and fit to the program also matter a lot, but UW hasn’t really hit a big name running back since pulling Corey Clement out of New Jersey and home-grown product Melvin Gordon from Kenosha.
Jonathan Taylor and Nakia Watson could be special backs, but I’d like to see the Badgers get a top target for a change. To that end, keep an eye on the recruitment of players like Joachim Bangda out of Washington D.C. and Miami Carol City product Nay’quan Wright. The latter of which is already a 4-star product and the No. 10 running back in the class.
It appears the Badgers are doing their homework like always and may be going under the radar early in the recruiting process here. But, they are hitting some high-traffic areas like the DMV, South Florida and Pennsylvania so far.
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.
In-state 2020 WR picks Badgers
Just a month after the Wisconsin Badgers got the 2019 football class signed, they got their fifth verbal pledge to their 2020 class.
Following an offer at junior day on Saturday, Waukesha (Wis.) West wide receiver Chimere Dike jumped at the chance to follow the team he’s been a fan of all of his life.
Getting this commitment gives UW five players in the mix, but also their first non-offensive lineman commit in the class.
Wisconsin is getting a player they found early in his football playing days and only competed with Iowa State for a scholarship offer to date.
This past season Dike caught 79 passes for 1,091 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6-1, 170 pounds, Dike gives UW a nice frame to work with and his production says there is potential here.
It has led to him being rated a 3-star prospect by 247sports and the No. 6 ranked player in the state. He’s also the No. 99 ranked wide receiver in the 2020 class.
Wisconsin had him near the top of their board and getting him to verbally commit this quickly has to make the coaching staff very happy.
It also means the Badgers continue to keep a very high national ranking for this class. Wisconsin is ranked No. 10 in the country and No. 2 in the Big Ten right now. They also have a crazy .890 average player rating for the class so far.
Wisconsin Badgers 2019 Early Signing Day Breakdown: Tight End
All 19 scholarships the Wisconsin Badgers had to offer in the 2019 recruiting class have been spoken for. Early National Signing Day was yesterday and everyone chose to put pen to paper and faxing actual Letters of Intent in.
But, we aren’t done breaking down the class and we continue our journey through the 2019 Badgers recruits today. This time it’s a look at Tight End.
UW Needs: 2
UW Commits: 2
Already Signed: Hayden Rucci, Clay Cundiff
After jumping in with some big time recruits at the position, Wisconsin got back down to looking at players who could be good blockers and pass catchers once again.
Rucci was a big get, with his recruitment a good battle amongst high-level teams. Cundiff was a late addition, flipping from Kansas during his senior season and UW believes they got a hidden gem from the 3-star recruit.
Biggest Get: Hayden Rucci
There are very different versions of what a quality tight end can be. There’s the receiver-heavy kind and the blocking-heavy kind, but in Rucci, the Badgers found a mix of both.
There wasn’t a lot of consensus on how good Rucci was in this class, with Rivals having the Badgers signee as their No. 15 ranked TE and 247Sports ranking him at No. 31.
What we can see from his junior film is someone who isn’t afraid to block on the line of scrimmage, but also has the ability to slip past defenders. Wisconsin got themselves a quality addition that may not have to immediately play should everyone else ahead of him stay healthy.
Biggest Miss: Hudson Henry
It’s not too often the Badgers are a serious contender with top-level recruits, but that was the case early on with 4-star tight end Hudson Henry. UW was given a long look by Henry, but the Little Rock, Ark. product couldn’t pass up playing for the home state Razorbacks.
Missing on the No. 60 player in the class stunk, but the Badgers ended up with some quality at the position despite this miss.
Biggest Target Still Out There: None
Wisconsin got what it wanted in this class in terms of a more well-rounded player at tight end.
What to Expect From This Group: Dual-Threat Ability
As hard as it is to admit, the Badgers offense is at its best when there are multiple looks from the tight end group. Having a blocking tight end along with a pass-catching option has made UW’s offense scary-good in the past.
With the additions of Rucci and Cundiff, Wisconsin has found two players who are good on the line of scrimmage and leaking out to receive passes as well.
Pairing either of them as they develop with the likes of Jake Ferguson could make UW’s offense really dangerous in the coming years.
Wisconsin Badgers 2019 Early Signing Day Breakdown: Defensive Tackle
Believe it or not, national signing day is here and the fax machines were buzzing early on Dec. 19th.
For many kids it is the time they finally get to do what they’ve wanted to do for months, if not years. Yes, they’ll officially be able to call themselves Wisconsin Badgers.
It’s 9:30am and believe it or not the biggest names UW had verbally committed to the program have already made it official. All the speculation and last-minute wringing of hands can cool off now.
We’ll continue to break down the class that just signed as we’ve done leading up to signing day.
Up today is a look at a position that saw injury and youth on the recruiting trail really devastate the group — defensive tackle.
UW Needs: 2
UW Commits: 3
Signed Early: Rodas Johnson, Gio Paez, Keenau Benton
With Olive Sagapolu graduating after this season and only one true nose guard/defensive tackle on the roster (Bryson Williams), this group was going to have more than one player in it.
In Benton, Johnson and Paez, the Badgers continue the trend they set with Williams — mainly concentrating on athleticism for the inside of the defensive line.
Biggest Get: Rodas Johnson
Getting a big time player at this position was a premium for the Badgers. Doing so right in Ohio State’s backyard…well that was just icing on the cake.
Wisconsin beat out the likes of Michigan and Penn State down the stretch of his recruitment and that was huge.
Johnson comes to the Badgers as the No. 29 ranked defensive tackle in the class and on film he shows potential to be a dominating force on the inside. At the very least, he’s got a college-ready body and can be the immediate back up to Williams.
Biggest Miss: Isiah Gibson
While the Badgers are happy with the three players they got, UW also was very heavily involved in the race for Gibson’s pledge. In the end it came down to the Badgers and Kentucky, with the Ohio native choosing to stay closer to home.
It also would’ve been interesting if Benton or more likely, Paez, would’ve even been in the mix had Gibson chosen Wisconsin.
Biggest Target Still Out There: None
UW has finished up its class and there are no expected signings at the position.
What to Expect From This Group: Athleticism
For all the talk of the size of Olive Sagapolu, the biggest lesson is that athleticism really matters on the inside. The ability to take on a double team or eat up space doesn’t just mean you’re a big man. It means you have the strength and athletic ability to get the job done.
When watching film on all three of UW’s signees, it’s clear that they all are athletes with big frames to work with. The more athletes along the line, the better UW’s linebackers look as well.
This will be a transformative group of inside players for Wisconsin’s defense.
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