Graduation is complete, meaning summer has arrived for everyone on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. For the Wisconsin Badgers football program the focus has turned heavily to the recruiting trail and to camp season.
Currently, 10 players have made verbal commitments to the Badgers and that means UW is well on its way to completing its class earlier than most thought would happen. However, there is still plenty of work to be done.
One position that is certainly key to success in Madison is the offensive line. Arguably it is Wisconsin’s premier position, but it is one that they seemingly don’t need to go after the five-star player to be successful with.
How has the recruiting gone along the offensive line in 2018? Let’s find out.
Wisconsin has gone in to the state of Michigan for players in each of the last three classes, but they’ve also been smart about it and have gone after players off the beaten path if you will. They’ve laid off the kids from Cass Tech for example, where efforts to get a foot in the door haven’t paid off in the past.
One of the best examples of hitting the jackpot is with offensive lineman David Moorman, who could see the field this season. As for Furtney, the Badgers were in the driver’s seat early on in the process and following a visit to campus on March 14, this recruitment seemed to be over.
The No. 54 ranked offensive tackle is a classic UW offensive lineman at 6-5 and already 280 pounds in high school. He mauls in the run game and isn’t afraid to be nasty from whistle to whistle no matter who is across from him. Furtney may not be a flashy name, but given the depth and youth still around this current group it’s about finding the fits that this coaching staff likes most. UW prioritized his recruitment early on and got his pledge on his visit.
Wisconsin doesn’t have a large need along the offensive line in this recruiting class, but expect them to take one or two more along with Furtney. So, who are the Badgers prioritizing as they head in to the summer?
Bay Port is becoming an in-state pipeline for the Wisconsin Badgers. Alec Ingold was the first since offensive lineman Dan Buenning back in the day, but he was followed by four-star offensive tackle Cole Van Lanen. Now, an impressive two-sport star could be in the mix to join them in Madison as well.
Plumb is a talented basketball player who is getting attention in football as well. The Badgers recently offered the intriguing athlete. Right now, Plumb is listed as a tight end, but he’s already 6-8 and 240 pounds. Wisconsin has told him they’ll recruit him for tight end with the idea of bulking up to offensive line, but also let his growth dictate where he plays.
That’s how athletic he is and how intriguing a prospect Plumb is.
It was long thought that Plumb was going to choose basketball over football, but it seems like a strong possibility that offers coming in for football from across the Big Ten has changed his mind on the sport he’ll play at the next level.
UW has gone back to a school that was a high priority under Gary Andersen — Salt Lake City East. Even though things didn’t work out with running back/fullback Ula Tolutau, the Badgers have made three offers at the school thanks to the relationship defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfeld has at the school.
While the Badgers may not be hot on this battle, they are in it and Vakalahi’s recruitment by the Badgers is likely to heat up this summer.
State of Recruiting:
It’s amazing to think that the Badgers are in a position to really pick and choose along the offensive line. But, it is a credit to the re-build that head coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph has done.
Wisconsin has recruited well and gotten a lot younger at the position over the past few recruiting classes. That means there is less need in this recruiting class. In fact, the Badgers have put out just nine total offers to offensive linemen this recruiting cycle.
That should tell you all you need to know. It appears that camp season may be where the Badgers really begin to fill out the recruiting board and get less picky as original priority offers get sorted out.
Look for two or three players to be added to Furtney’s commitment at most, as UW looks to start spreading out its recruiting efforts going forward.
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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