With the news of several veterans headlined by Bryce Gilbert, Nate Hammon and Hugs Etienne leaving the program, DeMatha Catholic (Maryland) prospect Chris Jones enrolling at Toledo and the future status of four-star prospect Dareian Watkins and where he goes from leaving Madison currently up in the air, Wisconsin fans might have some questions as to where the Badgers go from here, recruiting-wise. I'm here to help you as best I can navigate the choppiest of waters.
The state of play for the Badgers' recruiting class going into July is different than the state of play for the Badgers today. These matters must be discussed. Let's get learned.
1. The Badgers have more scholarships to work with now
Our best estimate entering Friday was that the Badgers were working with 22 or 23 spots. That figure comes from Wisconsin's 82 post-signing day scholarships with 15 graduating seniors, plus the fact that Austin Kafentzis, Kyle Penniston and Nick Thomas all plan on enrolling early and, realistically, Melvin Gordon playing on Sundays next year. With this attrition, the Badgers now have no problem getting to 25 scholarships. This means they could well become active in their attempts to flip emerging prospects as high schoolers enter their senior seasons. A Vincent Hughes may become this year's Jacob Maxwell with the space available, or we could see an extra defensive lineman come into play like a Luke Ancrum or an Olive Sagapolu.
2. If there's another flurry of offers, it's going to be at wide receiver
It goes without saying that A.J. Alexander will be treated very well on his unofficial visit to Madison next weekend. As it stands, he's about to get the Joe Mixon treatment from the Badgers. If the Badgers are unable to land Alexander, you can almost guarantee they'll be throwing out an offer to Wyoming commit and Badger camp attendee C.J. Johnson. Current prospects who look to be getting a few more tweets from Penniston include Virginia (Colonial Forge) receiver Gary Jennings, Kansas commit (and high school teammate of Chris Orr) Kevin Thomas and Atlanta (Mays) prospect Tyshawn Brown.
3. 2016 promises to be a massive class
With 77 scholarships at present and 15 graduating seniors plus Gordon, Wisconsin would be at 61 scholarships next year. When you consider that Kafentzis, Penniston and Thomas are early enrollees, the Badgers are going to be at 86 scholarships next year if they get to 25 scholarships this year (remember, they were going for 30 prospects in 2014). So considering standard rates of attrition due to injury, the Badgers will probably spend next year below the limit of 85 scholarships. They'll have 21 current juniors (or 20 and Corey Clement doing the early exit thing).
This means the Badgers could very easily have the space to go after 26 or more prospects next year without any over-signing penalty. That's without considering what would be a standard rate of attrition, without worrying about space for Ola Tolutau and without too much grayshirt drama.
Another way to put this all: You know how exciting it was when the Badgers landed commits left and right in June? They won't have to be as selective with the prospects next time around.
Recruiting -- it's a flat circle after all.