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Wisconsin football recruiting: A very early look at Badgers' 2016 targets

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Because it's time for you to get your hopes up until life inevitably disappoints you.

Alpharetta, Ga., quarterback David Moore.
Alpharetta, Ga., quarterback David Moore.
Student Sports

With enough time after National Signing Day, it's time to move onward. Upwards? Maybe.

At the very least, if this is a truly flat circle, the Wisconsin Badgers' class is at least 11 months before anyone and everyone is in danger of getting into another class. It's time to talk hope. It's time to talk the future. Flying cars might not be coming next year, but there's definitely going to be some good prospects. So let's break this down, position by position.

Quarterback

It's going to be hard to replace someone as universally beloved as Joel Stave, but the Badgers are looking to replace his scholarship with another quarterback. David Moore of Alpharetta, Ga. is the fan favorite of the class. He's mobile, but he's got a strong arm and isn't a pure running QB.

If this doesn't happen, look for the Badgers to go after some sort of Midwestern quarterback of repute. There's an offer out to an Iowa commit and in-state prospect in Menominee's Nate Stanley, and if you're looking for a strong Midwestern prospect the Badgers could get in on before it's too late, Avon, Ind., prospect Brandon Peters or Oswego, Ill., prospect Steven Frank could fit.

Running back

Corey Clement has the talent to go pro off of a big junior year, but at this point, the Badgers' first commit is North Stanly, N.C.'s Antonio Williams. Sure, the Badgers are going to look into other running backs should disaster strike, but for all the churning in the past couple of seasons, the only commit that made the call the season before his senior year not to become a Badger was Craig Evans. And there were reasons there. So basically, only worry if offers start getting made.

Wide receiver

Alex Erickson and Jordan Frederick are gone, and with Natrell Jamerson moving over to cornerback, the Badgers are looking for at least two receivers here. Looking at the previous offers, you can expect a type to develop here. They want a tall, quick receiver. Paul Chryst was in hard on a couple of four-star prospects while he was at Pittsburgh in Camden, N.J., WR Brad Hawkins and lanky (6'5) Clairton, Pa., WR Aaron Mathews.

Another prospect who took an unofficial visit to Madison who should be on the Badgers' radar is Minneapolis, Minn., WR Kjetil Cline. Chryst was one of the first coaches to give Cline an offer, and with his recent transfer to IMG Academy (from where the Badgers landed Nick Thomas), the meta-game considerations only help.

Tight end

With Austin Traylor set to graduate, the Badgers are setup to go after at least one more tight end for the class of 2016. The early target here looks to be Noah Turner from Mundelein, Ill. (Carmel Catholic). Turner made two unofficial visitsto Madison last season, and has already been visited by the not-related tight ends coach Mickey Turner. Noah's a real good pass catcher and could definitely start for the Badgers at some point down the line. He could commit real quickly if and when the offer comes.

Offensive line

The Badgers will lose Ray Ball and Tyler Marz to graduation, but expect them to try for three offensive line commits again in 2016. Why three? Because the Badgers could elect not to leave the state and still get themselves another good offensive line class. Hartland's Ben Bredeson is the most hyped offensive lineman to graduate in a decade. Green Bay (Bay Port) tackle Cole Van Lanen may be unranked, but he has offers from Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan State as well as Wisconsin. He's not going to be some weird two-star prospect.

Luxemborg's Spencer Kanz might be more developmental than the other two, but with a stated priority of staying in-state, if the Badgers believe he can play before he graduates, the offer comes.

Failing that, there's a four-star teammate of Noah Turner in tackle Sean Foster. He's the type of prospect that's worth scrapping for. Also, there's Mayer, Minn. (Lutheran) prospect and 2014 camp attendee Sam Schlueter. Beating Minnesota for one of their in-state prospects would surely be fun.

Defensive line

It's going to be interesting to see what the Badgers can do here. They have two senior defensive linemen, but James Adeyanju and Jake Keefer haven't seen much of the field. Not to say that Evanston's Naquan Jones couldn't be talented enough to break through and make an instant impact along the defensive line, but he would have a lot of freshmen and sophomores in tow at the position.

At defensive end, there are plenty of options the Badgers could go toward with their home-run swing. Ron Johnson is a Badger legacy from Camden, N.J., and Thomas Brown could well find a way to hit a home run with a sort of a Nate Howard-level prospect in Roswell, Ga., prospect Tyrone Hopper or Riverdale, Ga., prospect Chidi Okonya.

Linebacker

Joe Schobert and Jesse Hayes graduate, and in a 3-4 defense, there will always be multiple linebackers taken off the board. The top target at the position is four-star prospect and Badgers legacy from Bolingbrook, Ill., Tuf Borland. Otherwise, Hopper could be an outside linebacker. Ethan Tucky is an athletic four-star linebacker and 2014 camp prospect from Delaware, Ohio. I like him a lot, and the Badgers' offer is still at a point where it can make a splash.

Other prospects the Badgers could go after are the Pacific Palisades, Calif., three-star prospect Alec Simpson and noted in-state Greendale human being Tristan Pipp.

Cornerback

Moving Jamerson and slotting Serge Trezy helps to make sure that the Badgers aren't in an abject horror when it comes to the depth situation. But getting at least three has to be a necessity with Darius Hillary, Devin Gaulden, Terrance Floyd and T.J. Reynard graduating.

Of course, there's the possibility that the possibility of early playing time gets the Badgers in on some good corners. If letting Dominic Sheppard fade away didn't hurt their reputation at Gulliver Prep in Miami, Dontay Mayfield is 6'1 and has the hands to play quickly. Antone Williams would a double-back to Woodward Academy in Atlanta (from where Wisconsin landed Arrington Farrar) and an attempt to see if they can flip one from Duke. Dawun Hylton from Hialeah, Fla. (American) is the sort of prospect with good ball skills who's below-the-radar enough that assuming there's no #reasons, the Badgers can get a commitment.

Otherwise, look for tall guys and good athletes who can develop into something. New defensive backs coach Daronte Jones is probably going to have to coach some dudes up.

Safety

Michael Caputo's graduation is really going to sting. As it stands, A.J. Jordan and Tanner McEvoy are also safeties that look like they're graduating next season. They should get two to replace them (one if Farrar ends up doubling back to safety).

Odds are one is going to be a physical hitter, and one is going to be a ballhawk. An early offer went to Andrew Pryts of Hermitage, Pa.. He's a three-star run stuffer. Chryst also offered a 6'3, 205-pound athlete from Columbus, Ohio (Walnut Ridge), named Malik Harrison. He would be the ballhawk if Chryst offers again from Wisconsin.

So as it stands, the Badgers are likely going to move eastward in their prospect hunting. Outside of Alec Simpson, there isn't much the Badgers have thrown out interest-wise west of Texas. They'll make more moves into New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Georgia and Florida will get the same sort of fine-toothed comb. And while you're wondering why I haven't mentioned any sort of Texas prospect, there is a reason: reported new wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore's going to be working Texas. Odds are, they're going to find a prospect or two there.