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National Signing Day 2015: Recapping Wisconsin's commits

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After a growing amount of attrition between the coaching transitions, Wisconsin has salvaged a solid recruiting class for 2015.

Wisconsin's 2015 signing class (Data courtesy UWBadgers.com)
Status Name Position Height Weight Hometown (High School/Last School)
Scholarship Zack Baun OLB 6-3 198 Milwaukee, Wis. (Brown Deer)
Scholarship Titus Booker CB 5-11 176 Grayslake, Ill. (North)
Scholarship Jon Dietzen OL 6-5 330 Black Creek, Wis. (Seymour)
Scholarship David Edwards TE 6-7 225 Downers Grove, Ill. (North)
Scholarship Kevin Estes OL 6-5 270 San Marcos, Calif. (San Marcos)
Scholarship Arrington Farrar OLB 6-2 202 Atlanta, Ga. (Woodward Academy)
Scholarship Alex Hornibrook QB 6-4 215 West Chester, Pa. (Malvern Prep)
Scholarship Kraig Howe DE 6-3 253 Bellbrook, Ohio (Archbishop Alter)
Scholarship Alec Ingold ILB 6-2 205 Green Bay, Wis. (Bay Port)
Scholarship Andrew James WR 6-0 168 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons)
Scholarship Austin Kafentzis QB 6-1 200 Sandy, Utah (Jordan)
Scholarship David Moorman OL 6-5 275 Northville, Mich. (Northville)
Scholarship Chris Orr ILB 6-0 215 DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto)
Scholarship Kyle Penniston TE 6-5 230 Orange, Calif. (Mater Dei)
Scholarship David Pfaff DE 6-2 253 Mequon, Wis. (Homestead)
Scholarship Olive Sagapolu NG 6-2 295 Huntington Beach, Calif. (Mater Dei)
Scholarship Bradrick Shaw RB 6-1 205 Birmingham, Ala. (Hoover)
Scholarship Jordan Stevenson RB 5-9 190 Dallas, Texas (South Oak Cliff)
Scholarship Nick Thomas LB 6-2 230 Bradenton, Fla. (IMG Academy)
Scholarship Serge Trezy DB 6-1 220 Orlando, Fla. (Agape/Eastern Arizona)
Scholarship Jake Whalen FB 6-1 220 Wausau, Wis. (West)
Walk-On Ty DeForest LB 6-1 220 Marshall, Wis. (Marshall)
Walk-On Mitchell Herl TE 6-4 230 Middleton, Wis. (Middleton)
Walk-On Zach Hintze K 6-0 170 Fond du Lac, Wis. (St. Mary's Springs)
Walk-On Tyler Johnson OLB 6-3 200 Menasha, Wis. (Menasha)
Walk-On Troy Laufenberg RB 5-10 180 Waunakee, Wis. (Waunakee)
Walk-On Andrew Ruzek DE 6-6 240 Stevens Point, Wis. (Stevens Point Area)
Walk-On Noah Stengel WR 6-1 190 Sheboygan, Wis. (North)
Walk-On Elijah Strong CB 6-0 170 Oak Creek, Wis. (Oak Creek)
Walk-On Bret Verstegen S 5-11 175 Kimberly, Wis. (Kimberly)

Click players' names for individual profiles.

Dec. 11, 2014. Wisconsin's 2015 recruiting class was riding high. It was a top-25 class that just received the addition of a four-star talent in South Oak Cliff running back Jordan Stevenson.

There was no head coach at this point. In fact, the story is that future Badgers commit Bradrick Shaw had also wanted to commit at that point, but that's a tale we'll talk about later. Why? Because despite the fact the Badgers still made some strong moves in the final month of the period, this is a class that's likely going to be talked about in the sense of something that might have been instead of what it is. Especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Hey, wait. A class that feels like a missed opportunity mostly due to what happened on the defensive side of the ball? That's what happened last year! Let's get circular.

Offense

Surprisingly, despite all the churning morass of recruits decommitting for reasons and #reasons, this offensive class held together really well. I mean, really well. Outside of receiver, every position looks to have a prospect that could make an impact. UW might have to win some shootouts, but there's a future here.

For the longest time, the Badgers' quarterback of the future looked to be Jordan, Utah (Sandy) QB Austin Kafentzis. One of the early enrollees, he committed on June 18, 2013, and then went on to have himself one of the more eye-popping senior seasons you'll ever see. The Badgers had to hold off a late charge from Oregon State, but Kafentzis is on site and ready to work.

Kafentzis does have competition in West Chester, Pa. (Malvern Prep) quarterback Alex Hornibrook. He's a lefty pocket passer with more mobility than your average quarterback. He doesn't have the 4.42-second 40-yard dash speed of Kafentzis, but Hornibrook could be a player.

At running back, the Badgers got two really good players. Stevenson was, is and always will be a prospect with blazing speed and good vision. He's a little undersized, but the way the Badgers block, he could easily get the 130-to-150 carries that usually go to the second running back from day one if everything breaks right.

As for Birmingham, Ala. (Hoover) running back Bradrick Shaw? He's a really good pick-and-slide running back. Not so much of a blazing speed guy, but he breaks tackles and he's definitely the type of back that has had a lot of success for the Badgers. Shaw's commitment was one of the bright spots of January and he could definitely be a success down the line. At fullback, Jake Whalen's time looks be down the road, but he's a tough athlete and his time should come as a blocker.

Receiver was something of a failure. Gary Andersen never did get that No. 1 target he wanted to go after, and with Brandyn Lee getting the fadeaway, the only target the Badgers ended up signing is Andrew James. At this point, he's more returner than receiver. That's not to say that doesn't have value -- James has long speed and could be an instant impact as a weapon. But there's a reason why rumors persist of the Badgers looking into the possibility of Ryan Jenkins leaving Tennessee. As he's from Marietta, Ga., Thomas Brown could make it interesting if the Badgers get in on Jenkins.

Tight end is in ridiculous shape. Kyle Penniston was a highly regarded prospect who signed early and could quickly get in on the multiple-tight end fun the Badgers always tend to use. He's a great blocker with soft hands. David Edwards, the Downers Grove, Ill. (North) product, is a 6'6 athlete who will likely be more matchup problem than in-line tight end when he first starts making plays.

The decommitment of Sam Madden is a shame of the Larry Millers in the admissions office, but that being said, this only makes the offensive line class a really good group of three instead of the BEST OFFENSIVE LINE CLASS EVER. Kevin Estes coming in from San Marcos, Calif., looks to be a tailor-made left tackle. David Moorman's senior year in Northville, Mich., was good enough to allow some to consider him the best lineman in the talent-rich state. And Jon Dietzen was the best lineman in Wisconsin. All three should be impact players before their UW careers end.

Defense

And then, there's the defense. Most of it disappeared in some form or fashion in the past month. The Badgers added some talent in January, but the fact of the matter is they lost a lot off this side of the ball.

In fact, Olive Sagapolu might be the highest-regarded defender they have. He's a tailor-made nose tackle from Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif. He's going to grow and could well be a two-gap beast at the position. Wisconsin also got two good defenders who could be tough kids with good motors at the five technique in David Pfaff and Kraig Howe. That said, while Elu Aydon flipping to Oregon State was expected, losing out on Nate Howard and Jake Pickard hurts a lot. Though there's a real chance that walk-on Andrew Ruzek could grow in and help fill the defensive end position.

Jordan Griffin flipping to Vanderbilt proved to be the final wound to the class, and losing Dominic Sheppard was as much self-inflicted as Davon Crookshank or T.J. Griffin.

Adding Arrington Farrar is a big help. The four-star prospect from Atlanta will be attacking from the outside real quickly. In terms of instant impact, he's the only defender that comes in with star quality. Thomas Brown wins over everything for this commitment.

That's not to say the other four prospects at linebacker aren't sleepers. Chris Orr averaged 177 tackles in his last two seasons in DeSoto, Texas, and Nick Thomas was a strong inside linebacker for the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Alec Ingold will use his athleticism and wrestling training, and could well be an attacking force in the middle before his time ends. Zack Baun will join Ingold as a former quarterback whose athleticism will likely allow for a quick transition to linebacker, though he is set to attack from the outside.

Cornerback got sketchy. Takadrae Williams and X'Zavien Ausbourne both fell off. But with T.J. Griffin fading home to Virginia, it all fell onto Titus Booker. The Grayslake, Ill. (North) prospect was wavering late. He scheduled and ultimately cancelled visits to Iowa, Kentucky and Michigan. But he firmed up, and with his speed being legitimate and a solid 6-foot frame, Booker might have to make a transition. If new defensive backs coach Daronte Jones coaches him up, however, Booker could become really good.

Final analysis

You can't help but be disappointed by how January went. There is a lot of star quality gone from the class on defense, and you can only replace that talent with the underrated and the developmental. But Wisconsin's defense did improve its speed, and if coached up well, these recruits are going to surpass their star rankings.

The offense held together really well. There are going to be a lot of prospects with NFL potential on that side of the ball. It's something that missed out on its peak, but Paul Chryst with these pieces is likely to get something cooking that's going to be real interesting.