Rob Wheelwright, of Walnut Ridge High School in Columbus, Ohio, became the first offensive commit for the Badgers' 2013 recruiting class. Photo credit: ESPN.com
Throughout spring practice, the lack of depth at the wide receiver position has remained a major topic of discussion. Although it will not provide any immediate impact, the Badgers made a positive move this weekend when four-star recruit Rob Wheelwright made an oral commitment to Wisconsin.
Wheelwright, a Columbus, Ohio native, is rated as a four-star recruit by scout.com and received a three-star rating from rivals.com. According to scouting sites, he possesses great hands and runs sharp routes; at the same time, he only weighs about 175 pounds, so he will need to bulk up in the next couple years.
In his junior season at Walnut Ridge High School, Wheelwright caught 45 passes for 528 yards and found the endzone 11 times — he returns kickoffs and punts in addition to playing receiver. Those are tough numbers to follow up, but with his senior season upcoming, don't be surprised if Wheelwright bolsters his already impressive stats.
The name Wheelwright may also sound familiar to Wisconsin fans, given the fact his older brother Ernie played wide receiver at the University of Minnesota (04'-08') not long ago. After amassing over 2,400 yards and 26 touchdowns as a Gopher, the Badgers certainly hope Rob Wheelwright can leave a similar mark on the Wisconsin program.
It may just be an oral commitment (lets hope Urban Meyer stays away this time), but it says a lot for a program that doesn't typically bring in highly touted recruits at the wide receiver position. After losing Nick Toon to the NFL, the Badgers are only secure at the No. 1 receiver with Jarred Abbrederis (and even he's injured at the moment), and will continue searching for other receiver options until the season kicks off in September.
While flaws exist in Wheelwright's game, they seem to primarily include his lack of strength and explosiveness — which can be improved. More importantly, he possesses many of the natural skills that cannot be easily taught. It's only been a few months since wide receiver coach Zach Azzanni joined the Wisconsin program, but with Wheelwright committing, he's already showcasing his strong recruiting skills.
Scouting Report: Adam Trieu of scout.com provides an in depth analysis of Wheelwright's skills.
"Wheelwright is a smooth receiver who does a great job in the open field both after the catch and as a return man. He's not a speed merchant, but has enough to make big plays and his elusiveness and ability to make tacklers miss is an asset. Does a good job of tracking the ball in the air and attacking it at it's highest point on jump balls. Good overall hands and ball skills. Still needs to get bigger, stronger and more explosive."
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