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Wisconsin football recruiting: This weekend's visitors, Badgers' running back targets

It's not unreasonable to expect the Badgers will get further help this weekend, but it likely won't be for 2015.

Salt Lake City LB Christian Folau.
Salt Lake City LB Christian Folau.
Student Sports

One of the more underrated weirdness aspects in recruiting is that you're often looking into the class beyond the next one with over a year to go.

I mean, the Wisconsin Badgers are down to, at most, four spots that count for 2015. And if you look at the visitors for this weekend, whichever commitments come will be most likely for future classes. Not to say that it's a bad thing, but I'll explain further.

Committed visitors

As it stands, the Badgers have four committed visitors planned for the weekend. The superb future defensive end from Saint Louis, Nate Howard. Milburn, N.J., three-star defensive end prospect Jake Pickard. And the Badgers will also get two prospects from Illinois on their officials in Downers Grove three-star tight end David Edwards and three-star cornerback Titus Booker.

Unofficial visitors of note

Antonio Williams is the big name. The four-star prospect and No. 9 prospect at running back for 2016 cancelled a visit to Auburn last weekend and with a commitment announcement set for Dec. 4, expectations are that the Badgers start off the class of 2016 with a bang.

The plan is that the Badgers also get an unofficial visit from four-star defensive tackle Naquan Jones. Jones, from Evanston, Ill., already has an offer from Wisconsin, and at 6'4, 283 lbs., he would be a ready-made nose tackle in 2016. But he already has offers from Iowa and Michigan State, and the expectation is that his recruiting will open up.

The uncommitted

I can almost guarantee that the Badgers are going to have another name or two on this list. They have a need for a running back, which might become a big need for a running back. I'll explain further. But first, a refresher on...

ILB Christian Folau
6'1, 215 lbs.
Salt Lake City, Utah
4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit

Folau was committed to Stanford until those dreaded reasons caused him to reopen his commitment. And as it stands, the Badgers look to be the favorite for this four-star prospect who will not arrive on campus until 2017 due to an LDS mission. His game reminds you of Chris Borland: good lateral agility, solid athleticism and he can get through the trash and be a very sure tackler. The Badgers have been on him for a while and could well get rewarded with a future star.

It's not to say that the Badgers are a lock to get Folau this weekend; he's visited Oklahoma State and it's going to be tough to deny the pull of staying home and playing for Utah. But the Badgers are definitely favorites, and Chad Kauha'aha'a has been pulling commitments like some kind of man with a backpack. The space is going to be there, and when he commits, it's going to be a win for whomever gets him.

Are the Badgers getting desperate at running back for 2015?

Where the Badgers are at running back has been the sort of situation where they've been all year. There are a lot of good running backs the Badgers are in for and hovering for a possible close. Between Brian Cole, Jordan Stevenson, Michael Weber and Ty'Son Williams? The Badgers should get themselves one. But in the year of Melvin Gordon, could the Badgers go without a running back for this class?

I know what you're saying: don't the Badgers have Davon Crookshank? Well, they do and they don't. There are those dreaded reasons that 247Sports' Evan Flood reported this week ($). And if these reasons don't get beat back, the Badgers could fall back to zero. It's with that logic that you're seeing the Badgers likely going to pull a potential running back on a visit this weekend. If we're talking best-case scenario, it means a visit from Weber or Bryce Love.

If it's a likely-case scenario, it's more likely someone along the lines of attempting a flip of Illinois commit Dre Brown or Louisville commit James Allen. Or maybe the Badgers skulk about and get a surprise visitor. But either way, the first scheduled December visitor shows that the Badgers aren't feeling like they're close to done at the position.

RB Tyreik Gray
5'11, 187 lbs.
Houston (Lamar), Texas
4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit

Tyriek Gray is planning on visiting the weekend of Dec. 5. I know. It would seem totally awkward if the Badgers leave him alone in Madison for the visit while Gordon battles J.T. Barrett in Indianapolis, but we'll cross that bridge when we cross that bridge. As it stands, the four-star Texas prospect had a brief initial interest when the Badgers offered, but then very little was mentioned. This is not meant to be a knock on Gray; he's still fast and an aggressive runner, and the hands are still there.

As it stands, the Badgers could get into contention on the visit alone. Arizona State is the favorite, and Louisville, Houston and Oregon State follow behind. Arizona State definitely has the inside track, but eventually an offer of a wide-open shot for being RB2 has to get someone to commit.

And if not? They're gonna see how soon Antonio Williams could get to Madison.