Believe it or not, the time to look ahead to 2019 is already here. While there is still the Pinstripe Bowl to be played, UW’s coaching staff is squarely focused on getting its recruiting class over the finish line.
For many, that means signing on the early national signing day (Dec. 19) and we’ll be breaking down each position group as it stands heading in to the first time these recruits can officially call themselves Badgers.
Previous Positions: QB |
Up today is the position that has plenty of playing time up for grabs in 2019 — defensive end.
UW’s Needs: 2
UW Commits: 1
Expected to Sign Early: Gio Paez
Paez may be listed as a defensive tackle, but he’ll play end for the Badgers. His offer list is also impressive, with the likes of Kentucky, Louisville, NC State, Nebraska, Texas A&M and UCF extending offers.
Biggest Get: Paez
So far Paez is the only one committed and likely to sign early, so this is by default. More on Paez as a player later though.
Biggest Miss: Aeneas DiCosmo
Wisconsin threw out a ton of offers to highly rated prospects at defensive end in this class, but one of the more realistic names in the group was Aeneas DiCosmo, who wanted the most out of academics and athletics.
Unfortunately, the Badgers history with players in the state of New Jersey wasn’t enough to get him to commit to the Badgers over Stanford. Wisconsin cooled on him over the summer after having him on campus back in March of this year, as the writing appeared to be on the wall that they weren’t going to win this battle.
Still, this is the type of athlete that could’ve been very interesting to get on the line and missing out on high academic and athletic kids is always a bigger blow than a miss on a 5-star pie-in-the-sky kind of offer.
Biggest Target Still Out There: Ja’Darien Boykin
Boykin is a 4-star prospect that appears unlikely to sign come the early signing period and rumblings have the Badgers sniffing around this recruitment in the hopes of jumping to the front of a crowded group of suitors.
So far names like Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Washington State are in the mix. But, a Wisconsin offer would clearly be his most recognizable school on the list and he has yet to use his official visits.
The Georgia product would be a huge win for the Badgers and a step in upgrading the potential of the entire defensive line position.
What to Expect: Classic Wisconsin Projects
There’s no denying that the Badgers are in desperate need of help at defensive end. Both Kayden Lyles and Matt Henningsen were stop-gaps that likely would’ve seen limited reps had both Garrett Rand (who missed all season) and Isaiahh Loudermilk (played in eight games) been healthy.
But, with a class of three defensive linemen that decided to redshirt this past year the depth chart looks too deep for Paez or anyone else coming in and contributing right away.
Add in the fact that Paez has some things to clearly work on and you’re looking a player who the Badgers may be able to bring along slowly and allow to dominate later in his career in Madison. Don’t be surprised to hear his name in the rotation in two years time though, because the raw talent is certainly there.
Wisconsin is also clearly looking around to add another name to the class at defensive end given what they saw on the roster in 2018. Expect this to be one of biggest areas of emphasis for the coaching staff over the next few months.
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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