So as we're heading into the dead period over the holidays where Wisconsin's hard-working assistants are able to fully focus on South Carolina, I figure it's time to go through and look at where we've been and where we're going. There may be news coming of a new commit, but odds are that the Joe Keels exit could well be the last major piece of recruiting news until the new year.
Until then, let's discuss a few things, shall we?
1. Alabama's going to visit Joe Mixon! They're Alabama, they're going to take him from us, right? Should I panic?
Just Got off the phone with Alabama and they're coming to see me next week😬 #RollTide 🐘— ⚡PRIMETIME!!!⚡ (@Joe_MainMixon) December 7, 2013
Yes, Alabama is sniffing around Joe Mixon. At its face, this is definitely a scary scenario. Nick Saban devil magic would get him to flip from his desire to go to Wisconsin. Because clearly, CLEARLY, the Badgers would get him if Alabama didn't.
But that being said, there are two reasons outside of the fact that we already have two good running backs coming into Madison next season why Alabama doesn't worry me just yet. For one? T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake are both returning for the Crimson Tide. Add to that talented running backs Derrick Henry and Dee Hart, who are both returning, and Mixon would have a muddled path to go for carries in Tuscaloosa.
The second reason? Leonard Fournette. Mixon's great, a special talent to be sure. But there's a reason that Fournette is more highly regarded. Alabama's deep in this race, and it falls between the Crimson Tide and LSU. As of right now, Fournette is set to make a decision Jan. 2. Mixon is set to make his on the two days later.
If they offer, the situation changes. But if Mixon wants carries, Alabama is not the best for him.
2. The Badgers seem to be in on several talented players as the season wears down, so why did they spend three spots on two-star players?
If the Badgers shoot the moon, they'll get Mixon, Jamil Kamara, Kaleb McGary, Kolton Miller, Chris Lammons and Koa Farmer to run through the final commits. That means they'll be leaving some talent on the table. I mean, I'm sure you have a three-star you like. If you're excited about this season's recruiting class, you've got someone whom the Badgers just can't take right now because they signed a two-star player.
But here's the thing: the Badgers have a tendency to hit on someone that can develop into something useful from a two-star enrollee.
In 2002, they got Brandon Williams. He turned into a thousand-yard receiver and an NFL draft pick. 2004? Jack Ikegwuonu started as a redshirt freshman and eventually was drafted. 2005 got the Badgers Jonathan Casillas and P.J. Hill. 2006 got the Badgers Scott Tolzien (and some would say Jay Valai). 2008 was rich in two-star hits with Anonio Fenelus and Shelton Johnson (with services disagreeing on Brad Nortman's and Mike Taylor's grades). 2009 gives you Jacob Pedersen and Dezmen Southward (and Chris Borland made a service's two-star list as well). 2010 gave us Kyle Costigan and multiple services graded Tyler Marz as a two-star talent in 2011.
Even the last two years have brought intriguing pieces to the table. 2012 two-star Leo Musso was in the race for safety right until the very end of summer practice. And last year's class of two stars may be making impacts as soon as next season, as Leon Jacobs was a monster in the early part of summer practice. Throw in the speed of Jakarrie Washington and T.J. Reynard, who may be stepping in to play some secondary sooner rather than later.
So you see, the Badgers have been strong in the evaluation process. And when you consider the way they develop linemen and add that to the film on a guy like T.J. Edwards, the Badgers don't look like they're just tossing off scholarships all willy-nilly.
3. So, what's your take on Joe Keels?
All right, I'm not going to blame it on outer space. It wasn't the Illuminati. And the Freemasons had nothing to do with it, either. Heck, I even think the academics situation might be overblown. I know he misspelled one of his tweets announcing his decommitment but...
@HPbasketball Today we spell redmption B-R-O-N. *drops mic*— Duje Silver Dekan (@thegnc) June 8, 2012
It happens to a lot of people.
Anyway, my opinion on this matter, and the thing that I think is the most Occam's razor: Nebraska could promise something that the Badgers couldn't. I mean, 247 Sports' Evan Flood mentioned that the Badgers were recruiting him as an outside linebacker. He's currently listed at 275 pounds.
Not to say he would have been too lazy to drop the weight to play in the Brendan Kelly slot, but for what the Badgers want to do, Keels would have been a tweener. And sadly at Nebraska, Keels won't have to learn a new position.
But you know, it could be mind control from the black-eyed children.
4. Is Craig Evans going to flip?
Despite the way Michigan State is setting up and the fact that Craig Evans really wants to enjoy the process before he makes a solid verbal, it's hard not to think the Badgers are going to be in a race to the end with old Sparty for the four-star nose tackle. And considering that his current plan is that he's going to go to East Lansing for the Spartans' big recruiting day about a week before National Signing Day...
You can't discount the possibility.
But that being said, Pat Narduzzi is a head coaching candidate of a certain quality. If he leaves, the chance of the flip will likely lessen. Also, the neat strategy of the Badgers' recruiting class is that despite the fact they may lose out on a highly regarded piece, they usually have a strong piece already in tow. Mixon would be gravy. Kamara would be gravy. And when you consider the Badgers have a Jeremy Patterson in tow, losing Evans would hurt... but the Badgers would be fine.