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Wisconsin football recruiting: Updates on Badgers commits, targets as Paul Chryst assembles staff

One last update before the Badgers can formally announce Paul Chryst's coaching staff.

Miami (Gulliver Prep), Fla., linebacker Dominic Sheppard.
Miami (Gulliver Prep), Fla., linebacker Dominic Sheppard.
Student Sports

It's been 18 days since Gary Andersen left for Oregon State. The Wisconsin Badgers haven't lost a commitment from a class that most people consider to be the best they've ever had. In fact, UW gained a commitment (and if Thomas Brown isn't retained, that might be Paul Chryst's first mistake).

The Badgers aren't out of the woods yet, and the vultures are still circling. That said, it's looking increasingly likely that they could get through this with only one or two de-committed prospects, and as we all know, Austin Kafentzis is going to be the quarterback coming in for next season. He also provides a perfect segue to...

Nick Thomas: Lost in the shuffle of Kafentzis reaffirming his commitment is Thomas. The three-star linebacker from IMG Academy in Florida had visited Nebraska, and even before defensive coordinator Dave Aranda looked likely to stay at UW, Thomas was torn between the Badgers and the Cornhuskers ($). But on the same night Kafentzis went on Wisconsin radio, Thomas announced his affirmation that he was a Badger. He had a big year for IMG and lazy people will be more than happy to compare him to Chris Borland.

Jordan Griffin: Speaking of linebackers, the Seffner (Armwood), Fla., three-star prospect is less of a wavering concern than he once was. That being said, Nebraska has offered, because apparently the Huskers don't have linebackers that can handle the running game right now. Nebraska would get a potential visit, so too Vanderbilt. Those don't worry me as much; the state of play hasn't really changed here. If Florida doesn't offer, you can be confident that he's going to be a Badger. If Florida does, Paul Chryst is going to have to battle to keep him.

Dominic Sheppard: Continuing our theme of three-star Florida linebackers, Gulliver Prep's Sheppard has been consistently regarded as one of the Badger prospects that's most likely to flip. But while the sparking offer list is still out there, the real movement's come from interlopers. Sure, Louisville's out there, and Lamar Thomas is a name with cachet in Miami. But Illinois and Virginia are the other schools charging hard ($). The Badgers will likely send him every possible missive when the dead period clears, as he is the best committed linebacker coming in.

If Sheppard does flip, you could see the Badgers moving toward Paramus Catholic in New Jersey. There are two prospects in giant (6'3, 215 pounds), rangy safety Najee Clayton and outside linebacker Saleem Brightwell who could find a place in an Aranda defense. That said, there are still hints that the Badgers may be doubling back to a 4-3 defense.

Christian Folau: So you notice how Andersen really hasn't been able to poach much from Madison? Sure, the Badgers lost a couple of coaches, but there haven't really been any commits going to Corvallis. So where do you go when you're looking to make some moves? The state you know, obviously. Andersen poached Utah's defensive coordinator in Kalani Sitake and defensive line coach Ilaisa Tuiaki. On Christmas Eve, he made a formal offer to the four-star linebacker from Salt Lake City.

Clearly, the battle's between Utah and Oregon State right now. The Badgers aren't dead here yet, but that said, they haven't really come in and made much contact here since Andersen left. They can charge back in pretty easily if they do it right. Yeah, you have to wait until 2017, but he's a four-star talent. You've got to make time for that.