Friday started off on a promising note for the Wisconsin Badgers' class of 2015, but ultimately ended on a sour one as two more defensive recruits decommitted from the football program.
After news of defensive back Titus Booker canceling his trip to Michigan this weekend and reaffirming his verbal pledge to Wisconsin, defensive end Jake Pickard flipped his commitment to Syracuse early Friday evening. Later that night, Saint Louis (Ladue Horton Watkins), Mo., defensive end Nate Howard decommitted from the Badgers and pledged to his home state Missouri Tigers.
OFFICIALLY A MIZZOU TIGER!!! pic.twitter.com/zlQM1ozSEC— Nate Howard (@Nate_Howard_) January 31, 2015
The nation's 30th-ranked weak-side defensive en according to 247 Sports Composite, Howard initially committed to former head coach Gary Andersen and the Badgers in mid-June. Known as a "sleeper" at the time, the Missouri native's stock rose on recruiting sites and with other FBS programs thereafter.
Aside from Missouri and Wisconsin, Howard received offers from Illinois, Syracuse, Oklahoma and Indiana. Head coach Paul Chryst, tight ends coach Mickey Turner and the Badgers' coaching staff tried to keep Howard committed to Wisconsin, but rumblings persisted in January of a possible flip. Friday's decision on local St. Louis television confirmed the speculation.
Though this class of recruiting initially remained intact after Andersen bolted and Chryst was named head coach, eight verbal commits have since officially reopened their commitments. Along with Howard and Pickard, the list includes T.J. Griffin, Sam Madden, Brandyn Lee, Takadrae Williams, X'zaviaen Osbourne and Elu Aydon.
This leaves Wisconsin currently with 21 verbal commitments, though with four days left until National Signing Day, this number could change.