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Badgers Recruiting

Wisconsin Badgers 2019 Early Signing Day Preview: Defensive End

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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. 

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Badgers Recruiting

Top 2021 OT commits to Badgers

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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.

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Badgers Recruiting

Badgers add sleeper DE to 2020 class

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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.

On Monday morning, Cincinnati (Ohio.) Roger Bacon defensive end James Thompson Jr. announced his commitment to the Badgers following his official visit over the weekend.

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.

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Badgers Recruiting

Acker becomes Badgers 2nd 2021 football commit

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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.

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Badgers Recruiting

Badgers add in-state DE to 2020 class

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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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