It's been almost four months since I last made an estimate on Wisconsin's big board. As expected, there have been some changes. Some prospects have exploded beyond the Badgers' purview (Jashon Cornell), some have fallen outside of the top five (Kahlil McKenzie) and some have already committed (Steven Gonzalez). So, it's time to reassess and renew.
Yeah, that's right. We're big boarding. The rule is as follows: any included prospects must have Wisconsin in their top five or be considered "warm" toward the Badgers by 247 Sports. It doesn't mean they'll get all 20. Heck, it doesn't even mean they'll get 10 more from this list. But this is our best shots, and we'll begin with one of the committed.
1. RB Jordan Scarlett
5'10, 197 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale (St. Thomas Aquinas), Fla.
When this program-changing running back committed to Florida Atlantic, the recruiting world was sent into a tizzy. Once everyone caught their breath, the question was asked: when will Jordan Scarlett flip? The consensus is that this seems to be a race between Florida State and Miami to get him, but he's always said Wisconsin was a consideration. Right now, UW is the top out of state school in the race. It's not a Joe Mixon situation yet, but there's not a reason to dismiss the chances, either.
2. OLB Osa Masina
6'4, 218 lbs.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Masina's one who likes to travel where he gets the chance. As it is, he's being recruited nationally. Recent offers from Oregon and UCLA paired with him recently taking a look at USC show that this is a recruit with an interest base commensurate with his talent level. The Badgers are in the second tier with Michigan and Oklahoma. Shockingly, Utah is in the lead for this Salt Lake City prospect.
Yes, I know Utah is in Salt Lake City. Don't comment on that joke, internet pedants.
3. WR Alex Ofodile
6'3, 185 lbs.
In one of the more tangential ripples from the Dorial Green-Beckham case, the Missouri Tigers happen to have a highly-touted local kid who happens to play the position they suddenly happen to have a major need at. It's not to say Wisconsin recruiting coordinator Chris Beatty won't have further attentive listening to his pitch, but the part about the highly-touted local kid coming into a university that has a hole and an offense that could give him great success quickly means he's more likely a "when" than an "if" to be donning the Tigers' black and yellow.
4. RB Michael Weber
5'10, 205 lbs.
The reason why my gut says we've gained some ground on Weber is that he was in downtown Madison the night that the Badgers made the Final Four. As such, the Badgers are looking like they could be in the top three down to the commitment. Of course, you're going into Michigan and trying to beat Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. There aren't any guarantees as to this Cass Technical prospect, but the Badgers have a real shot at the blue-chipper.
5. ATH Jalen Christian
5'10, 165 lbs.
I know what you're thinking. You look at Christian's interest list and you're thinking he's going to be a cornerback. But not so fast -- the Badgers landed firmly in his top 11 when Beatty took over in the recruiting process ($). Can the promise of potentially playing offense sway the athlete to come to Madison? South Carolina currently leads, but Beatty's worked his magic before and the Badgers do have that whole mess at wide receiver with all the unanswered questions.
6. OT Patrick Allen
6'5, 270 lbs.
He's got that whole offensive lineman skinny thing, but that's about the only problem. His Hudl profile shows he has the agility to come out and tag defenders on the second level, and he's able to keep his legs driving even if his strength is stonewalled. The good news: the Badgers were in the top two for Allen's services. The bad news: after a recent visit to Ohio State, the Badgers aren't in the top two anymore. Florida State seems like a top contender, and Tennessee and West Virginia are also very much in play.
7. OT Andre James
6'5, 275 lbs.
Basically the only reason to be concerned about James if he were to sign with Wisconsin is that, like Allen, he is "offensive lineman skinny." Otherwise, everything about James should make you excited that he would potentially sign with the Badgers. Look at his Hudl profile and the first thing that comes into focus is just how great he is at keeping a low pad level, and he will lock on and drive someone until the whistle. He's got the skills the Badgers could well develop into a first-round pick, but they first must beat out Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA and Washington for the chance to do so.
8. OT Sam Madden
6'7, 345 lbs.
The dude is a flat-out hoss. Sure, he has the size advantage to cause problems up and down the Garden State, but he also has the athleticism and physical strength to get a place at the table quickly. He's also one who's learned to work with learning disabilities and has made himself into a four-star prospect. According to his coach, the best is yet to come. Madden has offers from Iowa, Miami, Nebraska, Pitt, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia, but the Badgers do have a bloodline edge, as Madden is cousins with John Moffitt.
9. CB Maurice Smitherman
5'11, 178 lbs.
This may be one of those things where the Badgers are just going after him quietly, because as news goes there's not much from Wisconsin's end. That also doesn't mean UW isn't after Smitherman -- I mean, someone with a hand-timed 4.37-second 40-time and a professed love for contact fits that cornerback style the Badgers have been going after forever. As it is, Wisconsin would have to beat out Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Miami and Vanderbilt for his services.
10. OT Gabe Megginson
6'5, 295 lbs.
Megginson's up to 28 offers now, but the conventional wisdom hasn't shifted in regard to his recruitment. The Badgers are still in the lead, and when you look at just which schools have offered him since Wisconsin started the process -- Louisville, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Penn State and Virginia Tech are among them -- Megginson is a four-star prospect that the Badgers, and more specifically offensive line coach T.J. Woods, might be able to get a future left tackle from a very strong prospect.
11. OT Jon Dietzen
6'5, 330 lbs.
Dietzen's only here because I ranked the prospects according to their 247 Composite scores the day I started this. Put it another way, the difference between Dietzen and Andre James is less than one percent by 247's scoring. Anyway, Dietzen hasn't been rolling in the offers like Megginson. He's only added offers from Illinois, Iowa State, Michigan State and Miami, but this isn't a bad thing. Sure there's cachet in pointing at an offer sheet, but this means the interest is strong and mutual between Wisconsin and this potential future hoss.
12. TE David Edwards
6'6, 220 lbs.
Downers Grove, Ill.
Conventional wisdom still has Edwards as a player that seems like he's a "when" for the commitment to Wisconsin. He has made visits to both Ohio State and Penn State in recent weeks, but he left both offerless. This leaves it as a battle between Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. The Kyle Penniston commitment leaves only one potential spot for another tight end, but Wisconsin's staff isn't going to force Edwards' hand... though it does make you wonder what would happen if Edwards has a good summer camp.
13. WR A.J. Alexander
6'3, 212 lbs.
I know what you're thinking. I know. "Gee, a highly touted receiver from Virginia seems to be reciprocating interest from the Badgers. Pass."
OK, first of all, hypothetical strawman who sounds similar to a random troll who would hang out on the recruiting boards and throw dollar signs for every enemy that dares name things with an 'S.' A part of recruiting is opening your heart up to let yourself get hurt. Second of all, click the name. Look at the interest list. Virginia's offered and is recruiting him. He's not warming. The Badgers have to beat some fine academic institutions for his services (Boston College, Northwestern and Wake Forest), but this is more than mere flirtations before he stays home.
14. DE/OT Joshua Alabi
6'5, 270 lbs.
Like Weber, Alabi was on campus for the madness that followed that Arizona NCAA tournament game. Remember that? That was fun. Anyway, Alabi, like Nasir Bonner, has lost a star from his recruiting grade in transit from his junior to senior seasons. But his status as well as his fit haven't changed. He's a tailor-made 3-4 defensive end whom the Badgers have to beat the best of the Big Ten and Tennessee to get.
15. OLB Tyriq Thompson
6'1, 220 lbs.
After a Friday visit, Thompson has officially listed the Badgers in his top three. Of course, the product from Detroit Martin Luther King has the two major Michigan schools as the rivals, so you know how that goes by now. But for the hybrid safety/linebacker, the fact that the Badgers are in his top three is definitely a good sign, as seems the fact that Thompson's decision isn't going to come until after the season. It seems like the Badgers have, at the very least, a puncher's chance to help fill their linebackers.
16. WR/ATH Austin Brown
6'4, 190 lbs.
Whether or not the Badgers end up with Austin Brown will almost wholly depend on this summer. Florida, Florida State and Georgia are among the schools that have interest, but none have offered yet. Wisconsin is currently head and shoulders above the other schools on that list (FIU and Southern Miss). Brown's a great athlete, and if he has a big summer, he could well be going somewhere else.
17. RB Alex Anderson
6'1, 185 lbs.
Alex Anderson joined Bonner as the two early targets of Gary Andersen's recruiting style. Anderson's a solid talent from a great high school (Hollywood Miramar) and he plays with a physical style that belies his size. That being said, he almost committed to West Virginia already, and while the Badgers are still in the race, they are currently running second against the Mountaineers.
18. ATH Javarius Davis
5'9.5, 173 lbs.
We've long established Andersen has a type when it comes to cornerbacks, and right now, Davis is the leader of the list of the archetypal. In case you're new or on your fourth account here, the defense the Badgers want to run loves the small, quick and aggressive when it comes to their corners. Davis has that in spades. Wisconsin's currently in a dogfight with North Carolina for his services, but the Badgers do have the advantage of Davis being directly related to quarterback D.J. Gillins.
19. ILB Daniel Fennell
6'2, 220 lbs.
You want the current prospect most likely to maintain Wisconsin's budding Georgia pipeline? Fennell is the leader at this juncture. The Badgers are going up against both Georgia schools, Miami and Texas A&M for his services, but the energy of new running backs coach Thomas Brown has allowed the Badgers to grab a foothold here. A glance at Fennell's Hudl profile shows that he could very well be in Chris Borland's spot before long.
20. RB Devine Ozigbo
5'11, 215 lbs.
On Ozigbo's home state alone, you have to admit you're a little intrigued, right? I mean, it's been five years since the Badgers grabbed a player from the Lone Star State. Ozigbo would be the thunder in any sort of thunder and lightning tag team the Badgers have in their backfield. Of course, they have to face Boise State, Iowa and Miami for his services. But if you add the metagame considerations, Ozigbo could be a bigger take.