Badger Bits: Wisconsin loses top in-state defensive end to Nebraska

Bret Bielema and Co. have gotten off to a slow start on the recruiting trail this year, most recently losing Milton defensive end A.J. Natter to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

A.J. Natter out of Milton is headed to Lincoln, Neb., to play for the Cornhuskers, Rob Hernandez of the Wisconsin State Journal reports. The 6'6 240-pound defensive end was ranked in the Top 5 of Rivals' Top 20 players in Wisconsin. He also held offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri and Boston College. Natter is the second top in-state prospect to hop the border after running back R.J. Shelton committed to the Spartans earlier this year.

This one stings a bit. The Badgers are looking to bring in depth along the defensive line, with a mass exodus of depth looming following the 2013 season. The likes of Beau Allen, David Gilbert, Tyler Dippel, Pat Muldoon and Jordan Kohout all run out of eligibility, leaving Wisconsin behind the 8-ball if they don't start developing more players, especially after taking just one true defensive lineman (Arthur Goldberg) in the Class of 2012.

More distressingly, however, is the fact that after two consecutive trips to the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin has somehow lost out on two talented local products. The Badgers are off to a slow start in general on the recruiting trail, especially compared to the best of their Big Ten brethren. It appears that the defection of nearly an entire coaching staff and the time spent in flux could be negatively impacting the process way more than we hoped.

With this class expected to bring in roughly the same number of bodies as 2012, the good news is that an off-year won't be terribly detrimental to the talent pool. Still, with low numbers the hope is that you can bring in higher quality, especially if it's in your backyard. There are still roughly 10 months to February, however, and with the Badgers poised to have another solid season on the field it should go without saying that a lot can change.

Links After The Jump:

Jeff Potrykus gives a full state-of-the-team rundown of the Badgers with seven spring practices remaining. The right side of the offensive line, and depth at quarterback, in the secondary and along the defensive line appear to be the biggest concerns right now. Otherwise, the team is shaping up nicely.

Injury notes from a couple of days ago. The usual names are still on the mend, with special focus on Jared Abbrederis and his fractured foot.

Tom Mulhern profile on Kyle Costigan and his transition back to the offensive line from the defensive side of the ball. Costigan is slated for a reserve role next season.

Jarrod Uthoff's appeal hearing is scheduled for today. One thing to note: Apparently he can transfer to another Big Ten institution on athletic scholarship if granted a full release. I was still under the impression that Big Ten rules stipulated he would lose his free ride. I apologize if this isn't news to anyone. (Also, the story about his buddy dropping of the appeal is mildly hilarious.)

Ryan defends his decision to restrict Uthoff's transfer destinations, using the "everyone does it" defense.

"Coaches told me they can appeal and win but there is a process," Ryan said. "I haven't lied. I'm on the (coaches) board and have taken stands on unpopular things. But this is something that all coaches do. I didn't make the rules. I'm just following them."

Suffice it to say, he appears to be on the wrong side of popular opinion on the issue.

Ah crap. Ohio State is going up-tempo this year a la Oregon.

Joe Lunardi has already released a much-too-early look at the 2013 NCAA Tournament, dubbing Wisconsin a 4-seed tipping off against Mercer in the first round.

A very entertaining Reddit AMA with Stacy Coley, ESPN's No. 3-ranked wideout in this year's class. A must read if only for posters' attempts to avoid committing NCAA violations.

It is Illinois week at Off Tackle Empire. Click through for everything you need to know about Baja Wisconsin.

Speaking of which: Tim Beckman thinks Illinois-Northwestern is a rivalry, and it is adorable.

Wrapping up: A very neat Doug Moe profile on Max Williams, the former Badger hockey player turned cop drama actor.

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