Believe it or not, national signing day is jus a day away for future Wisconsin Badgers.
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.
Fax machines are being dusted off and the vast majority of UW’s 2019 class will be in the fold on Wednesday. With that in mind, let’s continue our breakdown of each position group.
Up today is a look at a position that had a lot of transition and little help from the quarterback spot — wide receiver.
UW Needs: 1
UW Commits: 2
Expected to Sign Early: Stephan Bracey, Cameron Phillips *
*Phillips will be a walk-on commit due to an ACL tear in spring of 2018
Wisconsin didn’t have a big need here, but it also had two big names in the fold for a long time (more on that later). In the end, they got two very different prospects — one that blossomed late and another that went from heating up to cooling off thanks to injury.
Biggest Get: Stephan Bracey
It may feel a bit underwhelming knowing that a flip from Western Michigan was the biggest get of the group, but that is the reality. So is the fact that Bracey flew under the radar until his final season in which he showcased more than just pure speed.
His recruitment feels like a classic win for the Badgers, who were able to find a gem late and get his commitment before others began to catch on.
Don’t be surprised to see him become a big player at wide receiver in a few years.
Biggest Miss: Nolan Grouix
Any time a 4-star wide receiver says good bye to your recruiting class it’s not good. Such is the case with losing Grouix, who the Badgers landed a very early commit from. However, the North Carolina native eventually was swayed to stay home and it was a big loss for the Badgers as he decided to head to Wake Forest instead.
It was one of two losses at the position with Marcus Graham also parting ways, this time in favor of Stanford. Still, Grouix was the larger loss considering his film and his recruiting ranking.
Biggest Target Still Out There: None
With the get of Phillips on a grayshirt, the Badgers are done and should be done at the position in this class. They need save spots for the next few years to hopefully even things out at the position going forward.
What to Expect From This Group: Speed
Kendric Pryor and A.J. Taylor were impressive in 2018, as the duo picked up a ton of slack and could be counted on in tough situations. But, this team sorely missed the speed and size that Quintez Cephus brought to the table.
It’s highly unlikely that Cephus will ever see the field again for the Badgers, so UW needed to find some options that gave them more and more speed to go along with some size.
Wisconsin gets that in spades thanks to it’s push to flip Bracey from Western Michigan. Now the Badgers will get to pair him with Aron Cruickshank as perhaps the fastest pair of receivers in Badgers history.
Getting Phillips as a walk-on was a steal as well (he is the No. 88 ranked player at wide receiver in the country after all), and he gives the size and potentially more speed as well depending on how his recovery from a knee injury goes. If the gamble was right, UW has a pair of potentially impactful wide receivers to add to a group that can be really good with some help from the QB spot.
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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