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Wisconsin football recruiting: Previewing the Badgers' 2015 needs

Positional needs and some prognostication as we start talking about next year's capricious whims of teenagers.

Hollywood, Fla., running back Alex Anderson could be a target for Wisconsin in 2015.
Hollywood, Fla., running back Alex Anderson could be a target for Wisconsin in 2015.
Student Sports

So, it's time. Let's start talking the battles of 2015 recruiting. Where will Wisconsin be going? What positions will the Badgers be going after? And are we really planning on recruiting a four-star Texan quarterback as a safety?

This doesn't look to have the same sort of big dreams as the class of 2014 had, but that doesn't mean that the Badgers aren;t going to take some real shots up the board. Let's break down where the class might go on a positional basis.


On scholarship: 4
Graduating seniors: 0

With Wisconsin's belief in the potential of walk-on Connor Senger and the commitment of Austin Kafentzis, don't look for the Badgers to make any further moves at the position this year. In a weird way, that kind of stings, because this is the year that Wisconsin has had its best in-state quarterback prospect in a long time in Ashwaubenon's James Morgan. He's a pro-style quarterback, though, and the Badgers are not in the mood for drop-back guys. C'est la vie.

Running back

On scholarship: 5 (7 if you count the fullbacks)
Graduating seniors: 1 (Jeff Lewis)

Look for the Badgers to recruit this position exactly as they did for 2014. They're going to go see if they can't lock in two recruits at the position and get themselves a potential superstar. After all, conventional wisdom would lead you to believe this is Melvin Gordon's last year. The potential superstars in this case? Either Berea, Ky., five-star talent in Damien Weber or Florida Atlantic commit Jordan Scarlett. Yes, you did read that right.

The favorites for the two good running backs at this point are Philadelphia Imhotep's Nasir Bonner, and a prospect straight out of Hollywood, Fla., in Alex Anderson.

Wide receiver

On scholarship: 9
Graduating seniors: 1 (Kenzel Doe)

Gary Andersen seems to be working toward giving the Badgers more options at wide receiver. I mean, there's a massive influx of talent this season, but that doesn't mean there isn't going to be space for the Badgers to add at least one or two more receivers. Any list will start with Alex Ofodile, and Wisconsin also looks to be making another play down toward our neighbors to the south with 6'5 New Lenox, Ill., receiver Miles Boykin.

Tight end

On scholarship: 5
Graduating seniors: 1 (Sam Arneson)

With the commitment of Kyle Penniston, the Badgers are definitely in reasonably good hands if no other tight ends come in. But they do have multiple offers out, and in a year with some intriguing tight ends on the list, the Badgers might be done early at the position. Between David Edwards and C.J. Conrad, I don't expect them to go without a second tight end.

Offensive line

On scholarship: 14
Graduating seniors: 3 (Dallas Lewallen, Rob Havenstein, Kyle Costigan)

The math is simple. Expect the Badgers to go after five offensive line commitments in this class. Andersen has explicitly stated that the Badgers are going to attempt to maintain a coterie of 16 scholarship offensive linemen at all times, and after Lewallen, Havenstein and Costigan all graduate, UW will be five short.

A quick dream projection of linemen:

1. Jon Dietzen: A well-regarded in-state prospect. The Badgers should be able to keep him home.
2. Sam Madden: Already Hoss-sized at 6'7, 345 pounds, this New Jersey-area cousin of John Moffitt could well be the right tackle of tomorrow. Tomorrow.
3. Patrick Allen: A top-200 prospect nationally, this Maryland product would be a fine future left tackle and make with the holes and protect the Badgers' future. It'll be a battle to get him, but Wisconsin's in it early and he's willing to listen.
4. Gabe Megginson: Because let's make inroads to Illinois, you guys!
5. Martez Ivey: After all, anytime you can get a top-five prospect...

In all seriousness, this will likely be a situation similar to 2014's. The Badgers will get two potentially elite prospects, two good sleeper prospects and one developmental prospect that will have you going HEY IT'S A TWO-STAR PROSPECT WHY ARE YOU GOING AFTER A TWO-STAR PROSPECT? He'll be pretty great. Odds are, Nathan Veloz will be one of the good sleepers.

So offensively, you can look at the Badgers going after 7-to-9 more prospects. But if you look at the depth chart, the 15 seniors graduating split between six on offense and nine on defense. There will be some necessary pick-ups on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive end

On scholarship: 7
Graduating seniors: 1 (Konrad Zagzebski)

If there's any position on the defensive side of the ball the Badgers could afford missing out on, it's defensive end. There may be a couple of years where the position is going to be buffeted by undersized starters, as Conor Sheehy and Billy Hirschfeld are the purest 3-4 defensive ends on the roster. At this point, I expect the Badgers to grab a burly, lanky prospect and develop him. Stevens Point, Wis., prospect Andrew Ruzek would be perfect for this.

Nose tackle

On scholarship: 4
Graduating seniors: 2 (Bryce Gilbert, Warren Herring)

Okay, so maybe losing out on Craig Evans does hurt a little. Because let's be honest, the Badgers need some beef for their front three. Maybe they add one. Maybe they add two. Truth be told, this is likely why they started pressing on Kahlil McKenzie so early. They need some depth.

Perhaps there's an offensive linemen that can be moved, but, man, there's going to be a problem here next year if Wisconsin doesn't at least get one.


On scholarship: 11
Graduating seniors: 4 (Derek Landisch, Josh Harrison, Marcus Trotter, Sherard Cadogan)

The Badgers would have had more, but they let Joe Keels go and Rohan Blackwood didn't qualify. Dominic Cizauskas may yet join the team, but that situation has yet to sort itself out.

So as it is, the Badgers have only seven linebackers for 2015. There are plenty of ways for them to reload, though. In-state, Jake Whalen out of Wausau West and Dyson Chmura out of Waukesha West come to mind. UW can also go back to Georgia (Chris Dandaneau is a DI prospect out of Jesup). Of course, Cameron Smith is the West Coast star the Badgers got in early on. I assume they'll try for four here, but as Joe Schobert was the latest to show, aggression and good instincts can allow for a walk-on to earn a scholarship.


On scholarship: 10
Graduating seniors: 1 (Peniel Jean)

The Badgers have five current cornerbacks who are juniors and probably fall short in terms of the cornerbacks they chased in 2013. In terms of the transition from the previous administration, cornerback is one of the more stark ones. The staff has made some offers on big names, but the expectation is that UW's going to try for at least two. Since Florida has seemed to bear fruit for the Badgers in the last two years, you could very well see them look toward Ronnie Hoggins and/or Ben Bascom.


On scholarship: 8
Graduating seniors: 1 (Michael Trotter)

Safety is pretty deep, even if the Vonte Jackson experiment goes nowhere. Wisconsin's shot in the dark is J.W. Ketchum III (which makes very little sense when you consider Texas schools are after him as a running back). The Badgers will also take an Austin Brown or a Jay Stocker if they commit, but they can withstand a season with no assets at the position. I mean, this class looks like it's only going to be around 20 commits, after all.

Special teams

On scholarship: 2
Graduating seniors: 0

The Badgers are offering a long snapper from Ohio named Liam McCullough. If it happens, neat. If not? We should be fine.

All in all, we're looking at about 17 more necessary prospects to fill all the positional needs. But remember: this is recruiting. These are the capricious whims of teenagers. Where we are right now? Very likely not where we're going to be a year from now.