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Badgers Recruiting

Wisconsin Badgers 2019 Football Recruiting: An early quarterback breakdown

Next up in our early 2019 recruiting cycle look is the position with the most national attention, quarterback. Can Wisconsin hold on to a commitment from one of the hottest names on the recruiting trail?

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With 2017 in the rearview mirror and the 2018 Wisconsin Badgers recruiting class already signed, sealed and mostly delivered, it is truly an offseason to look forward to what is ahead.

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.

Previous looks: Running Back | Cornerback |

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 every class seems to be built around — quarterback.

Commit(s):

Graham Mertz

The Badgers were way ahead of the game in the 2019 recruiting cycle, largely thanks to the leg work done by then assistant quarterbacks coach and now full-time QB coach, Jon Budmayr. He identified Mertz’s talent early on and built a very solid relationship.

It was that relationship and Wisconsin’s offensive priorities that attracted Mertz, a 4-star prospect and the No. 7 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country. Mertz committed to the Badgers back on Oct. 8 and has been solid with his decision ever since. It appears Wisconsin may have its highest-rated QB in program recruiting history in the fold just in time too.

Recruiting Priorities:

Mertz is the guy, and the Badgers haven’t been linked to any other quarterback since he verbally pledged to UW. However, this is going to be a recruitment that Wisconsin can’t just rest on its laurels with. Wisconsin is going to have to beat off some big time suitors in the coming months.

That’s because Mertz blew the hell up during the U.S. Army All-American combine earlier this month. Since then big time names like Ohio State, Ole Miss and Missouri have come a calling, not to mention a December offer from Michigan.

So far, all has been quiet in terms of any hint of Mertz wavering from his commitment to the Badgers, but the heat is just beginning to be put on his recruitment and spring is going to be the tell-tale time to watch. If Mertz stays committed through spring, look for this recruitment to be over.

Wisconsin isn’t taking more than one quarterback in this class, as it continues to try and spread out the classes a bit more. So, no matter what happens, look for the Badgers to target one player at a time and may not even need to recruit beyond what it has done so far.

State of Recruiting:

One of the least talked about aspects of Wisconsin’s recruiting efforts to date is just how good a job Budmayr is doing on the recruiting trail. He’s been a very good talent evaluator to date for Paul Chryst and Co.

That is really starting to bare fruits, as Wisconsin was highly involved in the recruitment of highly touted 2018 recruit Artur Sitkowski before he made a choice for Miami (FL) and now landing the verbal commitment of Mertz.

Wisconsin is recruiting a level of quarterback it really hasn’t seen come in to the program in the past. Even Jack Coan, who seems to be sneaking under the radar, was a good catch for the Badgers in the 2017 recruiting class and a credit to the work and evaluation done by Budmayr.

Let’s see if the increased attention from high-level quarterbacks at the high school level leads to an increase in competence at QB once they get to UW. That will be the true mark of how good Budmayr’s evaluation skills and teaching really are. But, for now, you have to be happy that Wisconsin is competing and now winning battles for some of the best QB talent in the country.

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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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