Spring has turned to graduation weekend at Camp Randall. That means plenty of Wisconsin Badgers football players will walk across the stage with a degree in hand. It also means coaches are out on the recruiting trail more and more when possible.
With nearly half of the 2018 recruiting class in the fold already, this summer will be all about figuring out which recruits to prioritize and which positions need the most attention. Sadly, as things stand it appears that UW’s premier position — running back — is one that will need some serious work this summer.
How is recruiting stacking up at arguably the most visible position on Wisconsin’s offense? Let’s take a look.
This shouldn’t be surprising this early in the recruiting process. Unless the Badgers have a home run in-state kid in the mix or someone who has ties to the program, getting a top running back in the fold before the summer between junior and senior seasons is a rarity.
However, Wisconsin has missed on a few of its biggest targets and may be on the outside for its biggest priority recruit heading in to the summer. That has to be a worry for a program that needs to continue to stockpile the talent at this position.
There are nice options for the next few years on the roster, but long gone are the days of three 1,000-yard backs in the same backfield.
Wisconsin’s biggest option on the board appears to be this North Carolina prospect. Others on the board have committed elsewhere and UW has cooled off on many of them. Smith
Some may argue that the No. 1 priority on the board is Ohio prospect Tavion Thomas and they could be right. However, Thomas’ recruitment has picked up nationally and Wisconsin, who was once thought of as the leader, certainly isn’t in the driver’s seat anymore.
Schools like Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas have all piled on. So too have Oregon and USC…and I think you get the point here. It would be a huge win for the Badgers if they could get the Dayton, Ohio prospect in the fold, but counting on that seems less and less likely.
If you’re looking for the most likely to commit, then Collins could be that guy. His offer was as an athlete originally, with a likely bent to the defensive side of the ball. Chryst and Co. have since switched his offer to the running back position and have intrigued the 6-0, 194-pound Detroit Jesuit product.
Having 2017 safety Scott Nelson from the same school will be a big help in this recruitment. The question is if Collins will ultimately be a running back or move elsewhere in his career should he commit. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
State of Recruiting:
The Badgers have a large stable of running backs that aren’t leaving after this season so running back has taken a bit of a backseat on the recruiting trail. One could say leading up to the 2017 class that it was becoming an issue overall for the Badgers.
However, with Bradrick Shaw, Chris James and the incoming Jonathan Taylor in the mix (not to mention the improving Sam Brodner), there hasn’t been much reason to panic just yet.
That panic button is getting close to needing to be pushed at this position for the 2018 class though. Wisconsin has reached out and went after a number of “top of the board” targets and have completely struck out. Given UW’s recent and long-term history at the position missing out on big targets is a bit surprising.
What is more troubling is the fact that UW is having trouble gaining traction with the second level of offers.
Jahmir Smith is far from a lock to become a Badger, while Collins seems to be a lean but maybe a very disappointing get considering where the Badgers were on the recruiting trail just a few months ago. Will a bigger name pop up or will Wisconsin have to “settle” for one of the easier targets on the board?
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.
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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