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Wisconsin football recruiting: Recent Minnesota natives who committed, contributed heavily to the Badgers

Players from the Gopher State have made an impact for the Badgers in recent memory

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers look to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe for the 12th straight year on Saturday, as they will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

On the recruiting trail since about 2001, the Badgers haven't necessarily landed top recruits or primarily focused on the Gopher State -- at least to play at Camp Randall Stadium. Save that more for Bo Ryan and the men's basketball team (Hello, Jon Leuer, Jordan Taylor, Mike Bruesewitz, and Kammron Taylor).

In the past 15 years, however, Wisconsin's found some key contributors to its success on the football field from their neighbors and rivals on its western border.

Beau Allen, 2010-2013

beau allen

Credit: David Stluka/UW Athletic Communications

Rated a four-star stud by from Minnetonka, Minn., Allen chose Wisconsin over the likes of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Iowa and UCLA. His grandfather, Fred T. Westphal, swam for Wisconsin from 1956-59 and was a six-time All-American.

Allen never missed a game in Wisconsin career -- earning four letters and tying for the school record in games played with 54. Allen recorded 94 tackles (15 for loss) and eight sacks, but was a major player his last two seasons playing defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense in 2012, then transitioning over the center as a nose guard in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's base 3-4 scheme the next season.

The charismatic defensive lineman was honored as a consensus All-Big Ten honorable mention his last two seasons, and also reeled in Academic All-Big Ten honors from 2011-2013.

David Gilreath, 2007-2010

david gilreath

Credit: David Stluka/UW Athletic Communications

A three-star wide receiver from Robbinsdale, Minn. (Armstrong), Gilreath provided some of the most explosive and memorable plays in Wisconsin history during his time as a Badger, mostly as a return specialist.

Gilreath holds the school record for career kickoff return yards with 3,025 yards, along with distinguishing himself in UW history with school records for kickoff return yards in a season (967) and in a single game (189). Of course, you can't forget his 97-yard, game opening kickoff return for a touchdown against then No. 1 Ohio State in 2010.

He ranks sixth in school history with 5,265 career all-purpose yards, and as a punt returner, is fifth all-time with 721 punt return yards and tenth in average (9.9 yards per return).

Along with his returning capabilities was also a receiving threat and in the running game. A consistent starter in 2008 and 2010, his 1,077 career receiving yards holds him 24th in school history in that category. He ran for the third-longest touchdown run (90 yards) in Badgers history against Indiana in 2008 on way to rushing for 168 yards that game (one of three players to rush for 100 yards that game). In 28 of his 50 career games, he accumulated at least 100 all-purpose yards.

In those 50 games, he was named Wisconsin Player of the Week four times.

Blake Sorensen, 2007-2010

blake sorenson

Credit: David Stluka/UW Athletic Communications

Sorensen was a four year letter winner from Eden Prairie, Minn., where he was named "Mr. Football" by Minnesota State High School Football Coaches Association.

He started three games between 2008 and 2009 before becoming a regular starter at outside linebacker in 2010. He earned consensus All-Big Ten honorable mention honors in his final season on the Big Ten Championship squad, leading the team in tackles with 66 and was second on the team in interceptions.

John Stocco, 2003-2006

john stocco

Credit: David Stluka/UW Athletic Communications

A three-star recruit out of Minneapolis, Minn. (Academy Of Holy Angels), Stocco went on to become one of Wisconsin's most successful quarterbacks in school history.

He holds school records for all-time 200-yard passing games (17) and single-season 200-yard passing games (8). Stocco's currently fifth all-time in career starts (36), and tied for second all-time with redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave in wins with 29. His 29-7 career record ranks him second all-time for winning percentage for a quarterback in school history.

Among other records Stocco's name is etched throughout Wisconsin football history:

  • Second in career passing yards (7,227)
  • Second in single-season passing yards (2,920 in 2005)
  • Sixth in career completion percentage (57.2 percent)
  • Second in single-season passing touchdowns (47)
  • Third in single-season touchdown passes (21)
  • Fourth in career passing efficiency (134.1)
  • Owns single-game record for passing efficiency (minimum 15 attempts): 296.7 vs. Indiana in 2006

He was named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's best quarterback, in 2006. Stocco's also known for his four-yard touchdown run that helped upset the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines on Sept. 24, 2005. In that same season, Stocco threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns in head coach Barry Alvarez's then-last game in a 24-10 win over Auburn in the 2006 Capital One Bowl.

Other notable players from Minnesota who contributed to Wisconsin's success:

  • Wide receiver Isaac Anderson, 2006-2010
  • Outside linebacker Brendan Kelly, 2008-2009, 2011-2013
  • Tight end Dague Retzlaff, 1996-2000
  • Defensive back/special teams guru Tim Rosga, 1996-1999