As we come towards the end of February, recruiting for the 2018 class is in full swing. It has been a big month for the Wisconsin Badgers and the 2018 class, with six members of the 2018 signing class verbally committing to UW.
With that in mind, what will the class look like? We’re getting a much better picture across the board as offers go out and recruitments are prioritized for what should be a small class once again at Wisconsin.
Given the 2017 class was largely put together early on in the process as well, the process for 2018 has been accelerated already. Who are the Badgers looking at and what kind of numbers will make up this class?
Let’s start with a look at the quarterback position.
In the fold:
Ben Bryant (La Grange, IL)
It is a bit unusual for the Badgers to have their quarterback in the fold this quickly. However, it appeared that Wisconsin’s idea in putting pressure on the quarterback position worked wonders.
Bryant, the No. 22 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country committed to the Badgers just after the Big Ten championship game and has gone to work helping to put together the rest of the 2018 class.
The 6-3, 190-pound quarterback has some good film and plenty of upside to him.
What stands out immediately is his feel for the game. He seems to know where pressure is coming from, where to step up and when to stand in and take a hit. He also doesn’t make bad decisions with the football under pressure. Sure, there are tight windows he throws in to at times, but it is always to an area where it is either his receiver or no one getting the ball.
Bryant showcases good footwork and ability to feel the game, which are good starting points for a college quarterback. It certainly will give the Badgers an interesting quarterback room after nearly being bare at the position the last few years.
Still in the Mix:
Wisconsin has put out five total offers to pro-style quarterbacks in this class, and three of those players are still in the mix..in theory. The reality is that it appears 4-star IMG Academy quarterback Artur Sitkowski is heading to Miami (FL), especially after the addition of Bryant back in December.
The other two names that have been offered by the Badgers as pro-style quarterbacks are 3-star’s Chase Wolf and Carter Bradley. If anyone else is going to jump on board in this class, Wolf appears to be the more likely of the group, but given the fact that Wisconsin will have five scholarship quarterbacks in the fold (including Bryant) for 2018 it just doesn’t seem likely unless something dramatic happens at the position.
National Signing Day Outlook:
Many believed the Badgers would find a way to get two quarterbacks in the 2018 class. That changed on national signing day this year, as UW upped the preferred walk-on offer of Danny Vanden Boom to a full offer. It meant two quarterbacks in the 2017 class and no need to go after more than one in the 2018 class.
However, could Wisconsin add to Bryant’s commitment anyway? The only way that happens in my view is if a player like Sitkowski makes a drastic move away from Miami (FL) and UW pulls a major upset.
Don’t be surprised to see Bryant as the only signal caller faxing in a national letter of intent on the first Wednesday in February (or sooner if NCAA legislation takes hold this spring).
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.
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