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.
Up today is the position everyone is talking about heading in to the offseason — quarterback.
UW’s Needs: 1
UW Commits: 1
Expected to Sign: Graham Mertz
Mertz comes in as the No. 4 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He also finished off his high school career at Blue Valley North High School in electrifying fashion, completing 62.3 percent of his passes (238 of 382) for 3,883 yards and 51 touchdowns.
But, what is perhaps the most impressive part of Mertz’s game is just how smooth he looks on film. There isn’t a choppy part to his game, few mechanical issues that are obvious to the naked eye and frankly is the first quarterback coming out of high school that looks the part of a star I’ve ever seen in a lifetime of watching Badgers football.
Let the film speak for itself with Mertz’s game.
Biggest Get: Mertz
Getting the No. 1 guy on your board is always a huge win. Doing so with one of the best players at their position in the country, that’s a double win. Wisconsin did exactly that in targeting Mertz early on in the process and staying all over him.
UW outlasted huge late efforts from the who’s who of college football in Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Miami (FL), Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State to name a few.
Biggest Miss: None
Simply put, the Badgers wanted Mertz from the get-go and got him in the fold. There is no miss when it comes to a top 5 quarterback in this recruiting class.
What to Expect: Consistency
No quarterback in the recruiting rankings era has come in to Wisconsin as highly-touted as Mertz will and it is his consistency from camp to camp and game to game that has won many scouts over.
It’s also perhaps the one thing that the Badgers missed most from the quarterback position in 2018. The inconsistency from veteran Alex Hornibrook and the inexperience from sophomore Jack Coan was painful to watch.
Does that mean Mertz comes right in and takes over the starting position? A lot will depend on two factors — how quickly Mertz can adjust to the speed and verbiage of the college game and how will Chryst and Co. handle offseason competition.
If Mertz can show command of the offense and the consistency everyone is craving…what is the point of not riding through a few bumps for what could be a stellar player down the line? We’ll see if Chryst allows real competition or rides with Hornibrook through a final season out of loyalty.
No player will be under a bigger microscope come spring ball than Mertz will be. Let’s see how he handles the big lights before anointing him as the savior of UW football.
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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