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.
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.
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.
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.
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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