Just a couple weeks ago, Wisconsin fans began wondering if first-year head coach Gary Andersen could be recruiting better. Those issues have since quelled, between the addition of two 2014 prospects over the past week and a commit from top 2015 quarterback Austin Kafentzis. Tuesday morning, the Badgers received even more good news when Hyattsville, Md., running back Taiwan Deal committed to Wisconsin.
Deal is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound running back who also played inside linebacker for DeMatha Catholic High School. He is a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports' Composite Rankings, as well as the No. 14 prospect from Maryland. Deal rushed for 438 yards, averaging 6.35 per carry over seven games.
Deal is the ninth member of the Badgers' 2014 class, as well as the third out-of-state commit. The composite team rankings also indicate a six-spot rise to No. 32 for UW, as well as a sixth-place standing among Big Ten recruiting classes for 2014.
Deal was offered by the Badgers on March 30, then made an unofficial visit to Madison on April 3. Running backs coach Thomas Hammock and wide receivers coach Chris Beatty both are credited with bringing in Deal, who had 16 other offers, including Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue.
As a bigger back, Deal also has tremendous explosiveness and fits greatly within Wisconsin's system. He also comes from a powerhouse program at DeMatha Catholic, where Wisconsin has also made impressions on three-star wide receivers Chris Jones and Cameron Phillips. Both players are currently fielding offers from Wisconsin, and Deal's commitment could sway them even further.
The Badgers also faced uncertainty at the bottom of their running back depth chart, as redshirt freshman Vonte Jackson recently suffered his third knee injury in as many years and is unlikely to play this season. Junior Jeffrey Lewis is moving also moving to safety due to the departures of Reggie Mitchell and Donnell Vercher, leaving Wisconsin with few future running back options behind Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement.