MADISON, Wis. -- Like it or not, recruiting is a major part of college football. Programs need talented players if they want to compete for conference or national championships, and teams need to recruit well if they want to bring talented kids into the fold. The Badgers might never haul in the No. 1-ranked recruiting class, but they still need to find the right players for their system if they want to keep up their winning ways.
So on National Signing Day, the Badgers officially introduced their 2012 recruiting class. Head coach Bret Bielema sat down for a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss his latest band of signees and walk-ons, all of which will be on campus for fall camp in August.
Vince Biegel - LB - Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
Biegel, a 6-foot-3, 225 lb. linebacker from Lincoln High School, is a four-star recruit according to ESPN, Rivals, and Scout. He's ranked as the top Wisconsin product for this year's class, and was named the Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year.
"What you’re going to see is great instincts, he’s got the ability to flow to the ball, has a little bit of aggression when he gets there," Bielema said. "(A) big, rangy kid that can probably play inside (or) outside. Just moves really well. High motor. Great kid. A guy that we’re very impressed with."
Biegel will have a chance to play for a starting spot during fall camp, but he'll likely use a redshirt year, as the Badgers have a surplus of linebackers.
Hugs Etienne - CB - Plantation, Fla.
Etienne is a 5-foot-11, 170 lb. cornerback who has already enrolled at Wisconsin for the spring semester. He's rated as a three-star recruit by ESPN and Rivals, and as a two-star by Scout. Etienne is a little light right now, but an extra semester of conditioning, combined with a redshirt year, should do him a lot of good.
"He's got great instincts," Bielema said. "Really does a nice job at the line of scrimmage. I really think this will be a big semester for him."
Arthur Goldberg - DT - Mount Lebanon, Pa.
Goldberg is a 6-foot-3, 270 lb. defensive lineman from Pennsylvania. He's considered a three-star recruit by ESPN, Rivals, and Scout, and was first-team all-state as a senior. Goldman's commitment came out of nowhere, but the Wisconsin staff offered him after he came in to one of their camps.
"A guy that’s very excited to be here," Bielema said. "Likes contact. He gets after people."
Bart Houston - QB - Dublin, Calif. (De La Salle)
Houston might be the most hyped Wisconsin signee in recent memory. Houston is a 6-foot-3 signal caller from De La Salle high school in California, and only lost one game during his school career, where he was a three-year starter. Houston impressed at ESPN's Elite 11 competition, and will probably redshirt this season after coming to campus in August.
"(He's) a really accurate passer," Bielema said. "He really exploded once he started going to some camps that showed his ability to throw the football ...
The kid is everything that we are here at Wisconsin."
Vonte Jackson - RB - Kenosha, Wis.
Jackson is a four-star recruit from the same high school as fellow Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Jackson blew out his ACL in his senior year of high school, but enrolled early and will still be able to participate this spring in non-contact drills. The Badgers are pretty deep at running back, so a redshirt year is probable.
"Great character, great kid, and really I think is going to be another addition in the long history of our great running backs here at Wisconsin," Bielema said.
Reggie Love - WR - Boynton Beach, Fla.
The 6-foot-3, 200 lb. Love is an interesting prospect, as he's only played football for about a year and a half. He's considered a three-star recruit by Rivals and Scout. Love also lettered in basketball in high school, and it's clear the Wisconsin coaching staff is excited to see what he can do with some extra development time.
Jake Meador - OL - Greenwood, Ind.
The only "surprise" commit of the day, the Badgers got involved late on the 6-foot-6, 320 lb. offensive lineman. Meador was previously committed to Ole Miss and had a relationship with new Badgers offensive line coach Mike Markuson, who obviously played a role in getting Meador to Madison. Meador is a three-star recruit by all scouting services, and was likely headed to Florida before visiting the Wisconsin campus last weekend.
"Jake was probably headed to Florida before he visited last weekend," Bielema said. "Really on Saturday, during the day you saw him open up. He was just a lot more smiles. It shows the impact that Madison and the kids have during the recruiting process."
Reggie Mitchell - CB - Pittsburgh, Pa.
Mitchell, a 6-foot, 170 lb. defensive back from Pennsylvania, is a two-star recruit according to all scouting services. The Badgers are going to shift him to defense after playing quarterback in high school, but Bielema said he's open to letting him play on the other side of the ball every now and then.
"(He's) good enough on offense where I might sneak him in for a few plays," Bielema said.
Leo Musso - ATH - Waunakee, Wis.
Musso is an interesting story, as the Badgers offered him a scholarship late in the recruiting process. He had been planning to walk on to Wisconsin until another school offered him a scholarship, forcing the Badgers to extend an offer to keep him in state. Musso played running back in high school, but the Badgers are thinking about moving him to safety.
D.J. Singleton - S - Union, N.J.
Singleton is a four-star recruit according to ESPN and Scout, and a three-star according to Rivals. Singleton is listed at 6-foot-2, 195 lbs., and could have a chance to see early playing time. The Badgers could use extra athletes in the defensive backfield, and Singleton certainly fits that bill. Bielema mentioned that they are hoping to get more involved in New Jersey again, and Singleton's signing is a good start.
Dan Voltz - OG/C - Barrington, Ill.
Voltz is a 6-foot-4, 295 lb. lineman from Illinois, and was a four-star recruit this year. Voltz played in the Army All-American bowl, and could have a chance to see early playing time. The Barrington product is already enrolled in classes, and will have an extra semester under his belt when the Badgers open for fall camp, where they'll need to replace three offensive lineman from last season.
"He plays the game the way we like to play it," Bielema said. "He's very aggressive, he gets on people. I think the tradition that our offensive line has really drew Dan here."
Walker Williams - OT - Tacoma, Wash.
Williams is a monster at 6-foot-7, 320 lbs., and is a three-star recruit according to all recruiting services. Williams will probably redshirt this season to refine his game, but the Badgers are certainly happy that the Washington product found them, rather than the other way around.
"I really think Walker found us after being out (in Pasadena) for the Rose Bowl," Bielema said. "He might be a redshirt guy that we reform a bit."
The Badgers also brought in seven preferred walk-ons this year, mostly due to their relatively small number of scholarships available. That doesn't mean they won't be able to compete for playing time, though. In fact, preferred walk-on Jack Russell could compete for some of the kicking duties, as Philip Welch exhausted his eligibility and Alec Lerner left the team to focus on academics. You can see the full list of preferred walk-ons at UWBadgers.com.