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. What better place to star than the premier position at Wisconsin — running back?
Davis has flown a bit under the radar on the national recruiting trail, but you can see why the Badgers offered early and why Davis would be a fit. He’s got speed for days, and while he may have some things like vision to work on, those are things that can be taught to some extent. The instincts are good with Davis, he just may need to hone those skills.
But, don’t let the numbers fool you, as Davis was recently upgraded on the recruiting rankings and is now the No. 30 ranked running back in the 2019 class. Considering the fact that Taylor is still going to be at Wisconsin, UW can afford to go the develop and fill route with Davis.
Taking Davis also indicates that Wisconsin is likely to target a pair of running backs in this class. It makes sense as Chris James and Taiwan Deal will be gone no matter what after this upcoming season. Deal may not even make it to the 2018 season given the multiple ankle surgeries he’s now had, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Wisconsin has the first back in the fold already and Davis is only likely to help his stock as the offseason goes on. It’s easy to see why when you see his high school film progress throughout his junior season.
Chalk Davis up as a sleeper the Badgers locked in place early, classic Wisconsin recruiting if you will. As for the position going forward, the key will be figuring out if this class has two running backs in it or not. A lot depends on how much faith they have in Sam Brodner coming back from knee injury.
Wisconsin has six offers out currently at running back, but its most recent offer went out to Buford, Ga. product Derrian Brown. He is a 4-star prospect who has a 100 percent 247Sports Crystal Ball to Auburn, but the Badgers have been close to big names at running back in the state of Georgia in the past and that experience may help them in this recruitment.
If the Badgers do go with two running backs, look for the second name to not even be a name offered as of yet. Wisconsin’s tradition at running back will help and they’ve been notorious in taking their time to evaluate the position in past recruiting classes. So, don’t be surprised to see this recruiting board change a lot in the coming months.
State of Recruiting:
Wisconsin will always be in the mix for some of the big names at the position, but they are also in a position to be selective. The fit has to be right, and sometimes that frustrates fans who see 5-star after 5-star running back going anywhere but Wisconsin. Chryst and his staff hit a home run in identifying and flipping Jonathan Taylor from Rutgers in the 2017 class.
In 2018 the Badgers got a more powerful back in Nakia Watson, who still has plenty of speed to like in his game too.
Now in 2019, it appears the Badgers identified the speed back they’d like to work with in Davis, what else will the Badgers look for on the recruiting trail at running back? That’s the question that needs answering.
Top 2021 OT commits to Badgers
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.
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.