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Wisconsin football recruiting: Sam Madden decommits; updates on Arrington Farrar, other Badgers LB targets

The Badgers held this class together for a long time, but are cracks beginning to show?

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Atlanta (Woodward Academy), Ga., safety Arrington Farrar.
Atlanta (Woodward Academy), Ga., safety Arrington Farrar.
Student Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers went all in on getting former Oklahoma wide receivers coach Jay Norvell. They missed. He's going to Texas. Disappointing? A little bit.

Okay, it's a lot. I mean, the Badgers pushed all in to get a guy who waited for going to a school that went 6-7 to say, "Hey, let's go here." But as long as the Badgers can get someone who recruits and doesn't suck at the development phase in the game, the Badgers will land on their feet. If they can recruit Texas, that would be nice as well.

As soon as the dead period ended, news came like that movie about cars, with a need for speed. So we're going to break things down.

And obviously we have to start with discussion on Sam Madden. The three-star offensive lineman from Barnegat, N.J., who was set to be a cornerstone of the offensive line for years to come decommitted Saturday afternoon via Twitter. The reasons for him re-opening his commitment have not been publicly revealed by Madden himself; however, reported per Madden's high school coach, Rob Davis, that Madden was one of those recruits who didn't feel there was a "match" and was not receiving much contact from Paul Chryst. However, Jeff Potrykus' article Saturday and 247 Sports' post suggest otherwise. Look for some Big Ten school to have already done the necessary work to earn the commitment.

As for Wisconsin, it looks like this can go one of two directions at the position:

A. The Badgers go in-state and offer a three-star Northern Illinois commit in either Oak Creek guard Nathan Veloz or Franklin's Vincent Hughes.

B. They can offer a recent Pitt decommit who seems like he might be interested in having Joe Rudolph recruit him again in Westerville, Ohio's three-star guard Rob Dowdy. Either way, it's likely going to be a disappointment or one of those anecdotal cases that proves the inherent meaningless of star rankings.

And the ennui makes me sad. But not sad enough to prevent me from writing about the croots.

Commit alert

Kraig Howe: Howe officially announced his decommitment from Pitt on Wednesday, and the logic would dictate that the Badgers, who have been gaining momentum since they made their move to offer the three-star Dayton (Archbishop Kettering) defensive tackle, will end up adding him to help shore up the line. The plan is that he will visit Madison ($) on Jan. 24 and 25. At that point, it's likely to follow up with a commitment.

The late charges

Terez Hall: He's one of the fastest-rising names during the end of the 2015 recruiting process. The three-star outside linebacker from Livonia, Ga., has a highlight reel that compares favorably to former Badger commit Mohamed Barry. He plays fast and he hits hard. He's a bit underweight, but he can definitely grow into the position. In Dave Aranda's hands, he could be spectacular.

Regarding his recruitment, the Badgers earned that rare in-week visit with Hall planning on a Jan. 26 visit to Madison. Thomas Brown has the Badgers running second, ahead of Indiana, Iowa and Missouri here. The only worry is that Nebraska is the favorite, and the Huskers get the last visit on Jan. 30.

Arrington Farrar: Thomas Brown has definitely earned a chance to be the man who closes this recruiting class with gusto. Of course, Hall's a great prospect, but Arrington Farrar is more than a soap opera name here. The recent Stanford decommit is a four-star safety from Woodward Academy in suburban Atlanta who could very easily project into being a linebacker if the next Michael Caputo isn't in his future.

Farrar's Hudl profile shows an aggressive player who has good speed and a SPARQ-verified 4.06-second shuttle time shows he has the sideline-to-sideline game to use his football intelligence to peak efficiency, because Farrar pursues and closes real well. As it stands, the Badgers are currently in the top three with North Carolina and Notre Dame. He visits the Tar Heels this weekend. The Badgers have a chance to close here.

Jake Whalen: The three-star Wausau West linebacker has been on the outside looking in all year for the Badgers. Unfortunately for him, the Badgers ended July with four linebacker commitments and when you consider that Jordan Griffin replaced Mohamed Barry in September, Wisconsin was in a position to only grab one more potential linebacker, even when it was in play for Christian Folau.

But with a new coach and some potential flux in play at linebacker, as you can see, the position has been one of importance. And Whalen might be in position to benefit. Joe Rudolph visited him on Thursday, and the expectation is they're going to reconnect on Sunday. It's no guarantee that an offer is forthcoming, but there's definitely more interest than a chance to walk-on. Am I going to say watch this space? Yup.

3 extrapolations based on the visits:

1. Oregon State defensive line coach (and former Wisconsin coach) Chad Kahua'aha'a will apparently be visiting three-star Samoan defensive tackle Elu Aydon before the Badgers get a chance to. By all logic, this gives the Beavers a real chance to close the deal on this high-upside prospect, which will be disappointing. That said, three-star Fond Du Lac defensive tackle Robert Windsor also received a visit in the whirlwind of in-state visits the Badgers went on. Again, space is limited. But should Aydon decommit, Windsor would likely get that offer that keeps him away from another Big Ten school.

2. If you want to know just how much of a priority it is to get at least one more linebacker, you can look at just how many outside linebackers or potential outside linebackers Wisconsin has been looking at in the past few days. I've already mentioned Farrar, Hall and Whalen. Anthony McKee is scheduled to visit next weekend. To that list, you can add possible future candidates in Northern Illinois commitment and in-state (Green Bay) two-star athlete Alec Ingold -- he received a visit from Joe Rudolph on Friday -- as well as Appalachian State commit and three-star athlete from Alpharetta (Milton) Ga., Obe Fortune. Fortune goes to the same school as top 2016 quarterback target David Moore. Thomas Brown will be back in Georgia some time next week for a visit with Moore, and expect Fortune to get a look unless the math changes here.

And by the math, that's at least six prospects for linebacker the Badgers are looking at as the recruiting period comes to a close. If you were wondering what sort of formation Dave Aranda's going to run, I think it's safe to say the Badgers aren't switching back to the 4-3.

3. If you want a school with an outside shot of throwing a dagger into strength of Wisconsin's recruiting class, it's not going to be Virginia. In all honesty, it might be Illinois. I know. I'm hearing you scoff. Let me call this a public service announcement.

For one, getting the Illini to a bowl game has allowed Tim Beckman a new lease on life as a head coach, and the one thing Beckman has always been able to do is recruit above Illinois' station as a college football team. After all, he was able to close on a four-star offensive lineman prospect in Gabe Megginson and there were some tense moments in Wisconsin's recruitment of David Edwards. Secondly, Dominic Sheppard, in the most wavering phase of his commitment from Wisconsin, cancelled a visit to Louisville for a visit to Illinois next weekend. Third, Nate Howard has always put in Illinois in his top three since he made a visit on Dec. 12.

I know it would be that proverbial kick to the commercial go-to joke if Illinois ends up with the Badgers' two best-rated defensive commitments. And obviously if Virginia decides to squeeze in Sheppard on the 30th, it's subject to change. But there's a worst-case scenario in play.

We're in the homestretch. It's about to get weird. Unless you're Alabama, your class is gonna take a body blow or two. Wisconsin's already been hit. There's likely gonna be some more damage.