The air up in having a top-20 class is definitely crisp and clear. It is mostly temporary, though, and it's also quite early. Wisconsin's progress will likely crest as those jerks at Ohio University-Columbus and Stanford start getting big names.
The Badgers aren't out of the commit business quite yet, though spots are tightening up. UW currently has 15 commits for 2015; between the early commitments of Kyle Penniston and Nick Thomas, as well as the probable assumption that Melvin Gordon will leave early for the NFL Draft, 22 commits seems the likely cutoff for this class.
So yeah, spots are tight. Nowhere is this more prevalent than at linebacker. Sure, last Wednesday the Badgers were linebacker-less. But when you add Mohamed Barry, Nate Howard, Chris Orr and Thomas, the cupboard's full at a position of paramount importance -- six Wisconsin linebackers are also set to graduate by 2015.
List of Wisconsin commits, targets
A comprehensive list of signed recruits, verbal commitments and current recruiting targets for the Wisconsin Badgers football program.
The amazing thing is that the Badgers could well add two more linebackers with those seven spots. This isn't based on an "Oh man, we're totally going to get Osa Masina and Porter Gustin in this class" feeling, either. I'll explain further.
We'll start with Dominic Sheppard. The Gulliver Prep (Miami, Florida) inside linebacker recently named his top nine and included UW. Not only that, but Rivals.com's Jon McNamara reported Wednesday that the Badgers are in the lead for him. Beyond the benefit of landing a recruit from a Miami high school powerhouse, Sheppard's a strong prospect. He's definitely a take if and when he commits.
You know who else could be a take? Jordan Griffin. He's the inside linebacker from Seffner, Florida. He's the first Badger target to set up an official visit and he's coming to visit next Tuesday. Considering the pressure for a slot and the fact that they're still willing to schedule him for a visit, the Badgers have to consider Griffin a take.
And what about Rahn Bailey? He's the productive potential outside linebacker from Clear Falls, Texas. He's the sort of prospect who could be another sleeper, and he's coming Monday ($). It's on the Bailey family's dime, which could mean he isn't just an offer in name only.
Then there's the wild card: Kyler Manu from Pocatello, Idaho. The Badgers impressed him and they've left the Boise State commit with a decision to make. He's also with offers from Utah, Utah State and Washington, but if he chooses the Badgers, the potential eighth commit from the camp looks like he's going to be grabbed.
So who does this leave on the outside looking in? Omari Stringer can't be blamed if he ends up at Minnesota. Noah Lazaro is a prospect Wisconsin likes, but space is about gone. Elsewhere, it looks like Jake Whalen's going to go somewhere else.
This leaves the Badgers with the likely prospect of grabbing two in-state prospects. That's as many are they're getting from California. That's as many as could commit from Georgia. Heck, there will be more from Texas.
Truly, this will be a national campaign for the Badgers.
In other football news
Andrew James: The most open commit at this juncture has made plans to visit the Badgers Wednesday and Thursday. This could be the thing that clinches the three-star Fort Lauderdale, Florida, wide receiver as a more solid verbal, or this could well be the thing that locks him in as the "most likely source of attrition."
Jeff Smith: The Clearwater, Florida, athlete the Badgers are looking at as a cornerback visited Tuesday. It's uncertain if Wisconsin's going to be in play for him, but his interest was definitely raised ($).
Shaquery Wilson: The Miami (Coral Gables) prospect has a ridiculously good Hudl profile; you can see why he was offered Wednesday. He's not the fastest with a reported 40-yard dash of 4.56 seconds, but he has a willingness to drive cornerbacks and safeties on run plays, and he can bust arm and ankle tackles. Arkansas joined in with an offer on Wednesday, and while the good news is that Wilson's impressed with Wisconsin, I'm afraid there's some bad news: Georgia offered Thursday.
Basketball is played by tall guys
Diamond Stone: The Badgers are going after a class of commits they haven't had since the days when Stan Van Gundy famously clashed with Rashard Griffith. It's fraught with whims that seem extra capricious. Stone mentioning that he was planning on going into a tag team with five-star prospect (and no-shot-to-be-a-Badger) Malik Newman was definitely frightening. Stone's father, however, told InsideMD sports that the package isn't written in pen.
Tim Williams: There's an extra scholarship the Badgers have just lying around for this upcoming class after George Marshall's exit. A possible candidate is Williams. The 6'8 forward from Chicago will be transferring from Samford and has mutual interest in the Badgers. He's been close to dominant in the Southern Conference.
The 2012-13 SOCON freshman of the year made the all-conference team with 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and over a block and a steal per game. He also improved his work from the line, sinking over 75 percent of his free throws and was dominant inside offensively with a field goal percentage north of 60 percent.
Sure, he doesn't have the beyond-the-arc nature to his shot, but if the Badgers get him, the news will be good. Of course, they have to beat out Dayton, Georgia Tech, Iowa and New Mexico to do so. Still, 2015-2016 also clears Duje Dukan, Frank Kaminsky and potentially Sam Dekker from Wisconsin's roster. Space for playing time could be available quickly.