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Wisconsin football recruiting: Antonio Williams cancels Alabama visit; updates on new Badgers targets

After the first semi-justifiable panic, the race to fill out the class of 2016 can truly begin.

Wisconsin running back commit Antonio Williams from New London, N.C. (North Stanly).
Wisconsin running back commit Antonio Williams from New London, N.C. (North Stanly).
Student Sports

As I've written for going on three years for this website, I've developed a lot of theories. NFL experience can only help in college recruiting battles. (You know, unless Al Groh is involved). Andy Ludwig staying in Madison would have only ended with the greatest usage of cannon technology for attempted murder and, of course, Drew Hamm fired.

I mean, recruiting is based on the capricious whims of teenagers.

And after the news of Thomas Brown leaving for Georgia hit, it got pretty erratic here for a moment as a state watched a Twitter account take down all ties to a commitment to Madison. Yeah, it looked like 2016 running back commit Antonio Williams was a commit in name only there for a second. But the Badgers and Williams finally got on the phone, apparently, and Williams apparently came out the other side realizing that Wisconsin will always have plans to run the ball a bunch.

Williams also says he'll take his official to Wisconsin the weekend of Oct. 3 for the Iowa game, if not sooner. He also canceled his visit to Alabama this weekend, which seems to be a good thing.

Sure, it's a long way between now and Williams' planned early entry to Wisconsin, and there are some unofficial visits still on the docket. But at this point, whatever happens here, it's happened with serious consideration and despite whatever effect it would have on the potential class of 2016, if movement possibly happens, it won't be for any whimsical reason.

Anyway, we're at the point where the offer lists expand by leaps and bounds, and that junior day is coming up quickly. So let's talk offers, and a visit that's upcoming.

Unofficial Visitor

QB Kare' Lyles
6'1, 215 lbs.
Scottsdale, Ariz. (Saguaro)
3-star recruit3-star recruit3-star recruit

One of the more interesting things the Badgers are going to see is recruits who were around for the early burst of success in the Barry Alvarez era are becoming college age. We've seen Bollingbrook, Ill., linebacker Tuf Borland and Camden, N.J., defensive end Ron Johnson linked to Wisconsin.

You can add to this Kare' Lyles. The three-star quarterback from Saguaro, Ariz., is a prospect with a strong arm that can throw a pretty deep ball and looks to be on campus March 12. That said, his Hudl profile shows that he's running some sort of air-raid offense:

To make it an understatement: there's going to be a transition here.

But, the arm is there, and if there's time for Lyles to get some throws in, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a formal offer. Paul Chryst tends to offer people he's formally seen throw, and Lyles also has a younger brother in four-star offensive tackle in Kayden Lyles. The metagame considerations might come into play here.

Offer List Lightning Round

One of the fun things of the next few months is the fact the Badgers are just going to offer a flurry of prospects to see who sticks. Some offers are going to make the 2016 commits. Some offers? They're just worth a mention and a move along. Ready? Let's go.

Jamel Cook: Sure, a 6'5, 200-pound cornerback/safety prospect from Miami would be great. But the Badgers went and offered Cook day after Alabama, and Florida State got a commitment from him on Saturday. So, nah.

Terrell Hall: Hall is the 40th-ranked 2016 prospect, according to, but that's not why the Washington D.C., four-star defensive end is unlikely for the Badgers. The fact he's already advanced in his process to have a top two and holds offers from Texas A&M and Ole Miss after Wisconsin makes getting traction a little bit of an upset.

Jauan Williams: Secondary coach Daronte Jones was definitely doing work in Maryland over the last week, and Williams is a necessary offer. He's a great prospect. That said, the Badgers were Williams' 39th offer. This was behind some of the who's who in college football. Probably nah.

Curtis Robinson: Santa Ana, Calif. (Mater Dei) was big for the Badgers' class of 2015. After getting Kyle Penniston and Olive Sagapolu, it stands to reason UW would return to California for Robinson, a four-star outside linebacker. That said, the Badgers are going to have to do some work -- Duke, Notre Dame and USC are a pretty formidable top three, with Washington charging hard.

Camron Williams: The question for the composite four-star Dallas receiver out of Dallas First Baptist: are the offers from Oklahoma and USC committable? Because we all know new Wisconsin receivers coach Ted Gilmore's first Badger offeris going to be committable for the 6'3 Texan. And frankly, there's enough here that it'll be a good thing if the Badgers get him out of Texas. Big, quick and he can run through arm tackles. There needs to be a bit of polish regarding the route tree, but Williams' tools are great.

Thomas Schaffer: There's a big hurdle to overcome to get this three-star Lake Forest, Ill. (Lake Forest Academy) defensive end prospect, but grabbing him would definitely be a get for the Badgers. On frame alone (6'7, 280 pounds), he looks ready to play in a 3-4 from jump street. He dominates offensive linemen at his high school level and can turn into a special teams monster for whatever team gets him. That said, Oregon already offered, and while academics could get Wisconsin in the door here, this recruitment looks like it's going to be a battle.

Devin Studstill: The three-star athletic safety from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.,  is a prospect that can do a little bit of everything. The classic jack-of-all trades, if you will. That's a reason why the Badgers are going to push hard to grab him, though they're going to have to gain ground on his favorites.

Koby Quansah: It might seem weird that UW is going in on Connecticut, but when you have players like Quansah, you can see why they're going to hit the WWE state. This West Hartford (Kingswood-Oxford) prospect is a three-star linebacker who can attack the run with great pursuit (reported 4.58 40-yard dash) and will stop people when he gets to them. There's no clear-cut favorite right now, but with offers from Boston College, Duke, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Yale, he's got an intelligence to come with the skills and tools.

Cameron Brown: Brown is a 6'2, 205-pound outside linebacker prospect from The Bullis School in Potomac, Md. If you're looking for someone who reminds me of the lamented Nate Howard, Brown seems like it. He's currently a mid-three star prospect, but the Hudl profile? Eye-popping. Brown is a playmaker. He's a sure tackler, and uses his strength and athleticism to make plays all over the field.

He has a good, but not impenetrable offer list (Arizona State, Iowa, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, among others). If Jones can close here, it would most definitely be a good thing.

Tyler Johnson: A part of Gary Andersen going national has been the fact Wisconsin isn't really looking to go after what the Minnesota Golden Gophers want in football. Sure, they grabbed Gaelin Elmore, but there haven't been hotly contested battles on the trail between the school that hates you for your freedoms and the Badgers. But right now, Tyler Johnson of Minneapolis North looks like someone both are going to battle for.

As it stands, both the Badgers and Gophers are looking like they're after Johnson to play safety. His Hudl profile leans heavily to the offense, so take that for what you will. But if you're asking if Tyler Johnson has a sweet vertical...

Yeah, yeah he does (starts at 0:36).

Patrick Johnson: The Badgers are definitely making an attempt to open up a pipeline at the Bullis School this season, and in Johnson, there's a 6'0 safety who will definitely cause problems in the deep third of pass coverage. Look at his Hudl profile -- he's a ballhawk. One of the ballhawkiest ballhawks that ever did hawk balls.

Johnson holds offers from Boston College, Illinois, Marshall, Rutgers and Virginia, as well as Wisconsin. As it stands, he's currently a mid-level three-star prospect with upside at a position the Badgers need multiple commits from. He's a good prospect that some aggression would likely give Wisconsin a win here.

Eric Burrell: Yet another Jones offer, the Badgers are in the race for this three-star safety prospect from Owings Mills, Md., at the very least on offer list alone. He's got an offer from Virginia Tech, and the Hokies are definitely the favorite, but the 5'11, 170-pound four-star safety is worth going after. He's a good centerfielder and will take good angles and tackle well when faced with run plays. He also plays wide receiver for McDonogh, so while his man to man coverage is raw, he does bring centerfield skills to the table.

Keith Simms: If you're looking for a pass-rushing prospect the Badgers have already vaulted into contention for, Simms is a very interesting one. This three-star prospect from Bethesda, Md., has been playing defensive end for the Landon School. While he doesn't have moves, most of his highlights weren't based on his ability to shoot gaps and close space. He pass rushes. While Maryland is in play, Wisconsin looks to battle Cal and Stanford here. A win here would definitely be good.

Korey Banks: After Thomas Brown went home to Georgia, there was a question of just how the Badgers would handle going into Georgia. With Banks, they Badgers go into Tyrone (Sandy Creek) and throw out the first FBS offer to a prospect that Jake Rowe of says may be the highest-upside prospect at cornerback in talent-rich Georgia. He spent most of his previous high school career at receiver, but a 6'0 corner with good quickness and the classic tremendous upside potential where all you have to do is beat out Mercer and Sanford, that's not a bad thing.

Jacob Morgenstern: Morgenstern is going to be one of the more interesting prospects the Badgers have targeted. He could conceivably slot in as a Lance Kendricks-style tight end, or a Michael Caputoish prospect on defense. He's currently unranked, but with tremendous triangle numbers (6'4, 215 lbs., reported 4.60 40-yard dash) and versatility, when the services start looking at him hard, he's going to be well regarded. New tight ends coach Mickey Turner has come in and given the Badgers a real chance for this New Caanan, Conn. (St. Luke's) prospect who's received interest from Boston College, UConn, Pitt and Syracuse, as well as Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale.  In fact, Clemson offered him the day after Wisconsin did.

Tristian Pipp: An in-state prospect that gets a Badger offer has to be considered a favorite to become a Badger commit, and the Greendale Human Being is no exception. UW was Pipp's third FBS offer (Buffalo and Western Michigan were the other two), and a solid athlete that takes good pursuit angles and is willing to hit hard is always a good prospect. As an aside, Pipp has surprisingly soft hands.

So the good news is the Badgers aren't looking to be strictly in the Midwest. There are some new places (Connecticut!) they're diving into for talent. We also have Daronte Jones and Mickey Turner making aggressive moves with offers.

Time will tell if the Badgers close, but as the cycle opens in earnest, it doesn't look like they're going to just relax and rest on their laurels.