With the 2018 Wisconsin Badgers recruiting class already signed, sealed and delivered, it is truly an offseason to look forward to what lies ahead for the program.
That’s especially true on the recruiting trail, where the Badgers are way ahead of their normal curve. UW already has four commits to the 2019 class and there is a ton of buzz around the potential for this class to be special.
Wisconsin also likely needs to make this class count because it won’t be a big one, with around 14-16 players likely to be in the class in total. UW currently has 75 players on the 2019 scholarship list as it would sit today.
As we transition to looking ahead, we’ll take a look at each position as it stands on the recruiting trail. This time up it’s the position that doesn’t get a lot of glory, but could be vital for UW’s defensive success — defensive line.
Wisconsin may not end up with a ton on the recruiting trail at this position in 2019. What with eight defensive ends either signed in 2018 or currently part of the scholarship group heading in to 2019. However, they will likely look to even things out a bit with three players likely to graduate after 2019.
Look for the Badgers to target two defensive ends and a pair of defensive tackles, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Defensive tackle, defensive tackle and defensive tackle.
We can’t stress that enough in this recruiting class, as there is currently just one player who fills that role on the roster as we speak. That one person is 2018 signee Bryson Williams, who is likely to be the primary backup to Olive Sagapolu this upcoming season. I just don’t see the Badgers using Garrett Rand as an inside player after seeing his athletic ability over the past two seasons. Either way, depth at the defensive tackle position is lacking and Wisconsin needs to solve that issue.
Priority No. 1 in that vein is Lloyd Murray Jr. the No. 61 ranked defensive tackle in the country. A Wichita Falls, Texas product, Murray Jr. is likely the Badgers No. 1 target and his film suggests someone who the Badgers would love to have. It doesn’t hurt that fellow Texas products are having great careers so far at UW.
A name that seems to be under the radar in terms of the recruiting services, but not the schools is Wake Forest, North Carolina recruit Jaden McKenzie. Wisconsin joins other schools like Boston College, Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest and West Virginia in the mix.
Switching over to the outside of the defensive line, the Badgers have struck up a good relationship with Michigan product Michael Fletcher and could also be looking hard at Florida powerhouse program St. Thomas Aquinas’ Braylen Ingraham. Outside of those two, a lot of the players the Badgers have offers out to aren’t realistic options at this point.
State of Recruiting at DL:
Per usual, this position group is slow-developing in terms of early commitments. Wisconsin has some in-state talent it can pull from, but appears to have its early focus out of the state instead. That’s understandable, as this offseason should set the tone for where UW stands with some of the bigger offers it has out there.
Look for the summer to really heat up recruiting at both defensive end and defensive tackle. That’s good news because the pickings seem slim in terms of realistic options heading out of the winter and in to spring. UW has to start identifying and getting these kids on campus sooner or they will be left with a disappointing crop at both positions.
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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