The Wisconsin Badgers football program was expected to sign 19 players in the 2018 football recruiting class. It took just opening day of the first early signing period for all 19 players to sign on the dotted line and send those faxes in.
“Today is a special day, not only for the Wisconsin football program, but also for the young men and their families who have worked so hard for this opportunity,” head coach Paul Chryst said. “I want to congratulate all of them and welcome them into the Badger family.
“It’s been extremely rewarding to get to know all of our signees and their families throughout this process. What I’ve been most impressed with is how well they fit with one another, within our football program and with the University of Wisconsin. We obviously feel they can add value to our team on the field, but just as important is how their personalities, character and work ethic fit this university and our football program.”
Headlining the class is the lone 247Sports composite 4-star player to commit to the Badgers in this class — inside linebacker Jack Sanborn. The Deer Park, Ill. (Lake Zurich) product was an early commit to the Badgers back in March of 2017. He is ranked as the No. 17 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 4 player in the state of Illinois.
But, the Badgers focused on adding a lot of speed and length in this class, especially at the skill positions.
Wisconsin signed four wide receivers in this class, adding a pair of teammates from West Bloomfield, Mich. in A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha as well as New York prospect Aron Cruickshank and Indiana speedster Isaac Guerendo.
The state of Michigan was also a big headline, as Wisconsin signed five players from the state for the first time in a single class ever. While none were from the powerhouse of Detroit Cass Tech, the Badgers found a niche in the state and planting the ‘W’ in the state could lead to bigger things down the road.
In addition to the pair of receivers from West Bloomfield, the Badgers got their lone offensive lineman in this class from Michigan as well. UW added 3-star tackle Michael Furtney out of Milan, Mich. He is rated as the No. 60 offensive tackle in the country, but at 6-5 and 280 pounds has the frame to add to his size and build behind a loaded offensive tackle group right now.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect from the so-called “Michigan 5” is on the other side of the ball — safety Reggie Pearson.
The 5-10, 180 defensive back has the range and ability to play safety at the next level quickly.
Finally, athlete and likely flex-tight end, Jaylan Franklin was added to mix. He played quarterback and linebacker at the high school level, but his athleticism and size make him a prime target for the Badgers tight end group.
Wisconsin singed one of its lowest number of in-state scholarship players in recent memory, adding just four players from the Badger state in this class. However, it was considered a down year in terms of scholarship prospects from Wisconsin.
Leading the in-state contingent is Boyd Dietzen out of powerhouse Kimberly. He is joined by fellow defensive line prospect Cormac Sampson. Both were 3-star prospects, with Dietzen rated as the No. 23 strong-side defensive end in the country and Sampson as the No. 38 weak-side defensive end in the country.
The duo was also the No. 1 and 2 ranked players in the state of Wisconsin.
Along with Dietzen and Sampson, the Badgers also loaded up on out-of-state defensive linemen. They picked up signatures from right in the back yard of two Big Ten rivals. Signatures came from 3-star products Isaiah Mullens (Columbus, Ohio) and defensive tackle Bryson Williams (Lincoln, Neb.).
However, the most intriguing and needed position in this class came at cornerback, and the Badgers added a pair of potentially great prospects to the mix. Look for Humble, Texas native Travian Blaylock and Georgia product Donte Burton to get a chance to contribute early.
The pair both rank as top 60 cornerbacks in the country.
UW also added California native Alexander Smith to the mix at cornerback.
With the Badgers losing three of its biggest contributors on the defensive line to graduation and potentially three-quarters of its starting secondary too, it was no surprise to see them load up on these groups.
One position everyone watches was lower on the Badgers radar this season as they added 3-star quarterback Chase Wolf to the mix. He was rated as one of the lower prospects on UW’s list, coming in as the No. 35 ranked pro-style quarterback and No. 963 ranked player in the country.
But, the scholarship players weren’t the only ones in the mix. In total the Badgers added 26 players in this class, as they also announced six preferred walk-on’s to the class as well.
Those walk-on’s are quarterback Nate Carter (Waunakee, Wis.), inside linebacker John Chenal (Grantsburg, Wis.), tight end Jack Eschenbach (Downers Grove, Ill.), athlete Mike Gregoire (Green Bay, Wis.), offensive tackle Andrew Lyons (Kenohsa, Wis.), running back Brady Schipper (Stoughton, Wis.) and outside linebacker Marty Strey (Sun Prairie, Wis.).
*all rankings courtesy of the 247Sports composite.
Top 2021 OT commits to Badgers
With the Wisconsin Badgers 2020 class nearly full to the brim, a lot of attention has been paid to the 2021 class over this summer and it has paid off big time to date.
That hot streak continued on Sunday as one of the nation’s top offensive tackle prospects committed to the Badgers. Lakeville (Minn.) South offensive tackle Ryle Mahlman made his verbal pledge on Twitter a day after witnessing the Badgers win over Michigan.
With the Badgers rushing for over 350 yards as a team, Mahlman witnessed the smash-mouth style of Wisconsin and couldn’t wait to be part of that tradition.
“The atmosphere is always good there,” Mahlman told Badger247. “In a big game, the way they played it, it brought out the best atmosphere. It was insane. It was crazy fun.
“I love how the whole city rallies around the team.”
“They played smash-mouth football,” Mahlman said.
He comes to the Badgers as the No. 27 ranked offensive tackle in the country and the No. 1 player in the state of Minnesota. He is also the second tackle in the 2021 class, joining Wisconsin native J.P. Benzschawel, who is also a 4-star prospect and the No. 21 ranked offensive tackle in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Make no mistake about it, getting the best player in the state where head coach P.J. Fleck has been trying to build a wall around is a huge win as well.
Mahlman joins quarterback Deacon Hill as members of this class from outside of the state of Wisconsin.
Overall, Wisconsin has five commits in the 2021 class already and that has resulted in them ranking No. 6 in the country early on in the process.
The Badgers are getting another prototypical big-bodied, but athletic player with a lot of room to grow in to his body and with his overall technique. You can easily see his potential as just a sophomore in the film above.
According to those who have seen Minnesota high school football so far this season, he has begun to feel more comfortable in his bend and continued to show the aggression that is the trademark of Badgers offensive lineman.
You can also see that he wore the No. 86 and often was seen as a blocking tight end, which should tell you all you need to know about how athletic he really can be.
Wisconsin once again continues to hit on priority targets in the 2021 class and it will be interesting to see how things continue to shake out after the biggest recruiting weekend of the season happened.
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.
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.
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.
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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