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Wisconsin football recruiting: Badgers in on Kahlil McKenzie, Ty'Son Williams

Momentum! Momentum! Apostrophes! And also more momentum!

Douglasville, Ga., running back Mikell Lands-Davis at the 2014 NFTC Atlanta Combine on March 23.
Douglasville, Ga., running back Mikell Lands-Davis at the 2014 NFTC Atlanta Combine on March 23.
Student Sports

Ed. note: This is the first in our new series of Wisconsin football recruiting roundups. We'll be publishing these Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. Feedback, as always, is encouraged.

Coming off Gabe Megginson's commitment to Illinois, one might think Wisconsin isn't going to have a chance to build off the goodness from last year's recruiting class. But that person would be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

This roundup will prove one of Rosin's three tenets of watching recruiting and maintaining most of your sanity: there is always good news around the bend. Despite a good prospect staying in Illinois, I say to you today, there is hope.

New recruits with high interest in Wisconsin

RB Mikell Lands-Davis
5'11, 205 lbs.
Douglasville, Ga. (Alexander)
3-star recruit3-star recruit3-star recruit

An offer on Thursday has given the Badgers a real shot at this 247 Sports top-25 running back. Lands-Davis' familiarity with running backs coach Thomas Brown is what has Wisconsin in the race for this recruit, who's called his current standings "wide open." He currently holds offers from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina and Syracuse, among others. Auburn and Georgia haven't currently offered, though they could change the complexion of the race.

Whomever lands Lands-Davis could potentially get a good one, because on the second play of this video alone, you will become very interested in him.

Oh, that spin move. Thing of beauty, that.

CB T.J. Griffin
5'10, 176 lbs.
Virginia Beach, Va. (Ocean Lakes)

Who's the latest smaller, quick cornerback who's unafraid to stick some people you have to watch out for? Why, it's T.J. Griffin from the 757. Griffin's "physical play and explosiveness" are what brought the three-star cornerback into the purview of recruiting coordinator Chris Beatty. Griffin also has a reported 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds, so he does have the pure speed to go with his aggression that could generate some real havoc for whatever defense ends up with this prospect. Griffin currently has offers from Charlotte, East Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest and West Virginia, and has Duke as Wisconsin's current major rival for his services.

James Daniels
6'2, 282 lbs.
Warren, Ohio (Warren G. Harding)
3-star recruit3-star recruit3-star recruit

Center prospects aren't the sexiest of prospects, but one of my other tenets of recruiting-watching is that there is always a reason to be excited about a recruit that shows interest. With Daniels, it was that even as a sophomore starter, he had the ability to lock onto defenders and move them away from danger. His Hudl highlights are old, but even with the standard growth curve, Daniels would be among the best prospects at his position for a reason. That being said, Daniels would be a challenge to get. His brother, LeShun, is currently dodging lightning bolts from the AIHRBG, and his dad did play ball for an Ohio State University. Add to that strong, mutual interest between Daniels and Auburn, and you have someone who would be a "get" for the Badgers.

Mohamed Barry
6'1, 200 lbs.
Loganville, Ga. (Grayson)

Once again, this could be a moment where the efforts of Thomas Brown pay some real dividends. He was the first one to throw an offer to Berry while he was coaching at Marshall, and an offer from the Badgers has shot them to the top of his rankings. Quite frankly, while Barry might not grade out to be a four- or five star-prospect, he looks like he could be a solid sleeper. His Hudl proflie shows the ability to blow plays up in the offensive backfield. He has offers from Georgia State, South Florida and UAB, and Syracuse is Wisconsin's current main rival.

ATH Tim Cook
6'1, 235 lbs.
Eastern Arizona C.C.

Yes, kids, it's time for a new segment on the recruiting roundup. "Meet the junior college prospect the Badgers are interested in and he's interested in them back but no Badger fan is going to be excited because there have been multiple instances of a recruit committing -- hell, even signing -- and disaster striking."

The title's a work in progress.

As for Cook, the White Hall, Arkansas, native's best options two years ago were to join the sinking ship that was the John L. Smith iteration of the Arkansas Razorbacks as a walk-on, or take the offer of a mid-major like Louisiana Tech or North Texas. He chose Option C and went out west where, like JUCO-mate Serge Trezy, his athleticism was on full display. He had a listed 4.4-second 40-yard dash coming out of high school, and his Hudl profile shows that he hasn't lost much of a step. He might not be the most famous Tim Cook in the world, but the Badgers lead Arizona, Cal, Cincinnati and Louisville for his services.

X'zavien Ausborne
6'0, 170 lbs.
Dallas, Texas (South Oak Cliff)

The Badgers are the first to throw out an offer to this Dallas safety, and on that alone, you could think that Ausborne is just a name with a state. But there's a definite reason why getting in on Ausbourne could pay some real dividends: dude's got speed. Serge Trezy speed. He's listed with a 4.29-second 40-yard dash time and a 100-meter dash time of 10.6. On that alone, you've got someone with the raw athleticism to have value down the road. Get him some good coaching? That might be fun.

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

Here's another Texas prospect that seems to have at least some reciprocal interest in Wisconsin, though the Badgers currently are on his second tier. According to SB Nation's Westcott Eberts, Gray's a fast, shifty running back who has an advanced ability to catch passes out of the backfield. He's currently in the 247 Sports top 15 for the position, and he has a top five of Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisville. It's uncertain if the Badgers can crack that list, but Gray could well be worth the effort.

RB Ty'Son Williams
5'11, 200 lbs.
Sumter, S.C. (Crestwood)
4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit

The interesting news here is that the Badgers may be looking to start a running back pipeline from South Carolina of all places. Last year, the Badgers ended up signing Caleb Kinlaw, and this year tthey could well bring another Palmetto State prospect into the fold. Williams definitely seems intriguing on the highlight reel of course, but what definitely should interest you there is the fact that Crestwood runs an offense versed in Wing-T principles. Friends, that means Williams could play quickly on jet sweeps alone. Either way, the Badgers are one of his final five, and while they have to beat out Georgia, Notre Dame, North Carolina and both South Carolina schools, Williams did say the Badgers are recruiting him the hardest.

DE Jacob Robinson
6'4, 230 lbs.
Westfield, Ind. (Westfield)
3-star recruit3-star recruit3-star recruit

Wisconsin's offer last Wednesday has brought the Badgers to the front of the race for this three-star defensive end prospect. Robinson has offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Toledo and Wake Forest, and in completely unsurprising news, he's considered an Indiana lean, though the Badgers do have a lot of momentum for Robinson. He plays as a defensive tackle for his home high school, and he has shown some ability to penetrate into a defensive backfield as he was credited for nine tackles for loss in an all-state junior season.

ATH Jerome Dews
6'4, 205 lbs.
Oxon Hill, Md. (Potomac)
3-star recruit3-star recruit3-star recruit

The Badgers have never been averse to going after a recruit following signing day under Gary Andersen. T.J. Reynard may grow into a starter despite signing in May of last year, and the Badgers might be getting themselves another intriguing developmental prospect for the class of 2014 in Dews. Dews was a Tennessee commit, but since Tennessee signed pretty much everyone it could, he unfortunately lost his chance (and situations like this are why I never begrudge a prospect anything). Anyway, his Hudl profile shows that he could be a very dangerous blitzer and has the instincts and athleticism to grow into a potential monster at linebacker. If everything checks out academically (because we all remember what happened with Donnell Vercher), Rocky Top's loss could be the Badgers' gain.

DT Kahlil McKenzie
6'4, 316 lbs.
Concord, Calif. (De La Salle)
4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit

Why am I putting McKenzie on the bottom? Because as you saw on our post-spring big board, I was honestly surprised the Badgers made the top five here. It wasn't really his fault; the conventional wisdom does have him following in his father's footsteps and going to Tennessee. Plus, there were some rumblings that McKenzie's a touch too much of a space-eater to fit what Wisconsin's defense really wants to do.

But there's something deeper here; it's the third thing I've learned in regard to recruit-watching and keeping one's head: you're gonna lose, and probably more often than you get the win. Even if you're Alabama, you can't always get every piece to fall your way. If you don't understand that. you're going to be one of those jerks who jerkingly gets in the mentions of a recruit. And no one likes those people.

McKenzie's a prospect that the Badgers have a real chance to win. His top five includes Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee and USC. He's planning on visiting Wisconsin. I'm not going to buck the trend and say the Badgers get him. I'm not even going to say the Badgers get to the hat race. But today, we've got ourselves someone with atop the big board who seems willing to listen.

It might not mean much tomorrow, but today, it's a very good thing.