As national signing day gets further and further in to the rearview mirror we continue our series on the last decade of Badgers football recruiting.
While we all love to talk about the amazing tradition at running back, none of it is possible without the big guys up front. Talk to any running back and they’ll gush about what the offensive line does for them.
Talk to any NFL scout or general manager and they’d likely take anyone with a Wisconsin after their name on the draft board if given the choice. After all, it is the position that is the most drafted of any from UW over the course of the last few years.
So, let us tackle the most difficult position to break down, if for no other reason than the large numbers of successful players UW has produced in the past decade.
5. Josh Oglesby (2007)
Recruiting Info: 5-star, No. 14 nationally, No. 1 OT, No. 1 in Wisconsin
Accolades: 1st team All-Big Ten (2011)
Few in-state players have come to the University of Wisconsin with as much hype and promise as Oglesby did. After all, it isn’t too often that a 5-star player is in the state of Wisconsin at all, whether in high school or college.
However, his career didn’t quite pan out like 5-star careers should. That was in large part due to a series of knee injuries that saw him have to have six surgeries and left him without cartilage in either knee by the time he left UW.
Still, when he was on the field, few were better at right tackle than Oglesby was. He was cerebral and found a way to use his mammoth frame to his advantage when his athleticism was limited due to injuries.
Oglesby saved his best for last, starting 13 of 14 games in his senior season and dominating in that season.
One is left with the feeling of what might have been had injuries not played a significant role in his career. Still, he was one of the best we’ve seen over the past decade of recruits at Wisconsin.
4. Kevin Zeitler (2008)
Recruiting Info: No. 694 nationally, No. 51 OG, No. 4 in Wisconsin
Accolades: Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (2010); Consensus 1st team All-Big Ten, 1st team All-American (AFCA & Pro Football Weekly) (2011)
Kevin Zeitler wasn’t exactly the end-all, be-all of Wisconsin’s 2008 recruiting class but it didn’t take him long to establish himself as a future star. After redshirting his first year on campus, Zeitler was able to establish himself as a starter for the next three years for the most part.
He would go on to start 36 games at right guard and play in 40 career appearances. He was part of perhaps the single greatest offensive line in UW history in 2010. That offensive line featured names like Gabe Carimi (who won the Outland Trophy that year), John Moffitt, Bill Nagy, Ricky Wagner and Zeitler. All of them went on to be drafted in the NFL, and that is to say nothing of the sixth man in the lineup named Peter Konz, who also would be drafted in to the NFL.
As an individual player, there were few more athletic guards at UW in the last decade nor few who were as sturdy in both the run and pass protections as him. It all added up to a rare interior lineman that was easily a player ready to make the early leap to the NFL.
Since leaving UW after his junior season, Zeitler has gone on to become one of the top offensive guards in the NFL and could be the hottest free agent interior lineman on the market this offseason.
3. Ryan Ramczyk (2013)
Recruiting Info: No stars, No rating at OT, No rating in Wisconsin
Accolades: 1st team All-Big Ten
Few Badgers fans will realize that Ramczyk was actually a recruit that signed with the Badgers back in 2013. Something about a coaching change and playing time led him to go the D3 route that time. A different coaching change led him back to the Badgers football program and arguably there hasn’t been a left tackle that has had a better single season than Ramczyk has had in this past decade.
He was an easy pick for 1st team All-Big Ten honors . It all has added up to the craziest story for a player who NFL.com rates as the No. 1 offensive tackle in this draft class and will be yet another first round offensive lineman for the Badgers to put in their recruiting material.
In one year he managed to establish himself as perhaps the best left tackle Wisconsin has seen since the days of Joe Thomas, and that is saying a lot.
Perhaps there is a case for Ramczyk to top this list, but longevity also matters and the next two guys have that and the talent to back it up too.
2. Rob Havenstein (2010)
Recruiting Info: No. 679 nationally, No. 33 OG, No. 18 player in Maryland
Accolades: 2nd team All-Big Ten (2013, media); Consensus 1st team All-Big Ten, 1st team All-American (AFCA)
Few players have dwarfed their competition along Wisconsin’s offensive line the way Rob Havenstein did while at UW. He came in at 6-8, 350 pounds and stayed right there if not a little slimmer by the end of his career.
Yet, he was one of the more athletic right tackles Wisconsin has seen in some time and became one of the most dependable players on the offensive line as well. Following the impressive 2010 offensive line, Havenstein took over right where they left off in 2011, playing in 12 games. He wouldn’t miss a start the rest of his career, coming out with the first team offense for 42 of his career 54 appearances in a Badgers uniform.
Havenstein was one of the driving forces behind record-setting rushing attacks and held up well in the passing game as well.
By the end of it all he had become one of the top right tackles in college football and became a 2nd round pick of the then St. Louis Rams. He’s gone on to become the face of the Los Angeles Rams offense and perhaps one of the most underrated right tackles in the NFL today.
1. Travis Frederick (2009)
Recruiting Info: NR nationally, No. 88 OT, No. 7 in Wisconsin
Accolades: 1st team All-Big Ten (2012, media)
I believe a few programs missed the mark when it came to recruiting Travis Frederick. When it came time to choose a school, only Air Force, Navy, North Dakota State and Wisconsin had the stones to put an offer in writing for him. The choice for the Badger-state native was an easy one.
UW was lucky from the get-go, with Frederick becoming the first true freshman offensive lineman to ever start a season opener. He did that in 2009 against Northern Illinois and would go on to win two Big Ten championship games as well as three overall Big Ten titles (although he was a redshirt for the 2010 season).
His freshman season was cut a bit short though, as he only played in five games total due to an ankle injury. That injury and the log-jam along the offensive line allowed the coaching staff to sit Frederick for the 2010 season. However, once back in the lineup he wasn’t going anywhere.
Originally a tweener inside, Frederick eventually settled in as the starting center following Peter Konz’s departure for the NFL in 2012. That 2012 college football season proved to be Frederick’s best and he parlayed that in to an early departure for the NFL, becoming a 1st round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys.
He’s now the anchor to what many consider one of, if not the best offensive line in the pro game today.
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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