So we're coming up on a week since Kare' Lyles commitment to Wisconsin's class of 2016. While it seems as if the quarterback position may be cleared up for the year, this last week has shown itself to be rather promising when it comes to further developments in the class. There were new offers and fun prospects the Badgers took a step forward on, so we'll dig a little deeper.
RB/ATH A.J. Taylor
5'11, 190 lbs.
Kansas City, Mo. (Rockhurst)
The top athlete out of Kansas City, Mo. (Rockhurst), picked up an offer on his unofficial visit last weekend. While most of his highlight reel is as a running back, the Badgers are reportedly offering him as a wide receiver. While it isn't something easily visible on his Hudl profile, Taylor does have the ball skills to make UW's Ted Gilmore, a former NFL receivers coach, feel confident in making an offer. A slot receiver that turns into a running back when he gets the ball in space? That'll make any quarterback look good.
The interesting thing: with a little bit of elbow grease, the Badgers might be able to close here. Sure, there's always going to be Missouri to contend with, as the in-state school made the first offer. But in an Irish247 video from Taylor's unofficial visit to Notre Dame, Taylor talked about how he came away impressed with his visit to Madison. You'll have to go through the first 6:45 of him talking up Notre Dame to get there, but the Badgers are definitely a player here.
I know what you're saying: Doesn't it sound like Notre Dame would be the favorite for Taylor? You would be right. Taylor does have an affinity for the Irish. So I'll leave you with a second interesting thing.
You know how Taylor left Madison with an offer, right? Brian Kelly didn't follow suit at Notre Dame. Obviously, this could all change the instant Kelly decides to make a move, but for someone who wants to commit sometime in the summer, every day a school has a lead leaves it one step closer to closing the deal.
TE Luke Farrell
6'6, 240 lbs.
While I spent a lot of words trying to tell you to get hyped because a four-star athlete is a prospect the Badgers are in the lead for, here comes the brevity. Luke Farrell is a four-star prospect from Perry, Ohio, with an offer from Ohio State. He also has offers from Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn State that came before Wisconsin could get one in. A strong prospect, but you can safely move on.
Picked up an offer from Wisconsin today! #Badgers pic.twitter.com/d8uc14XizD— Kronk (@LukeFarrell88) March 17, 2015
News and notes
QB Brandon Peters: We're in a position where you could feel safe considering the four-star prospect from Avon, Ind., a prospect that another school is destined to sign. That said, the Badgers aren't as far on the outside looking in as one might think, as they made Peters' top five.
Top 5 as of right now.. List could change. No order pic.twitter.com/LWdKBVTGMD— Brandon Peters (@Bpeters2118) March 16, 2015
You can make a joke about how he made a list that had no order to it and ended up not just putting the list in alphabetical order, but keep it to yourself. It's probably not going to be funny and if anyone's going to run a joke into the ground, Drew Hamm's gonna get fired.
DE Thomas Schaffer: If you look at the 247Sports profile for the big three-star defensive line prospect from Lake Forest Academy in Illinois, you'll notice the Badgers are suddenly very much in the race. How did that happen? Well, the fun part of covering the recruiting visits are that often, especially when the visits are unofficial, they can change in the blink of an eye, and all of the sudden, there's a contingent of prospects taking advantage of last weekend and visiting Madison.
Was it all the secret weapon? Probably not. But Schaffer evidently felt good about his unofficial visit to Madison.
Obviously, with an offer sheet that includes Oregon and academic high-fliers Stanford and Vanderbilt, this is a race that's only just begun. But with a physical maturity that could allow him to see the field quickly and the advantage of Wisconsin being the one school close to home in his top five, the Badgers have a real shot here.
OT Spencer Kanz: The three-star, in-state lineman from Luxemburg-casco is set to make an unofficial visit to Madison this weekend, and if you look at the situation that's developing, the Badgers appear to have plenty of options should they miss out on a top prospect at the position. You look at Spencer Kanz and you see someone with a good athletic frame and initial punch. In fact, he might have more upside than a prospect like previous UW offer Sam Schlueter. If you look at his Hudl tape, you can see why the Badgers might be waiting to see him up close at a camp.
He's a good athlete, and he has good power, but the thing that might be keeping him from getting an offer is visible even in the highlight reel: Kanz plays high. It's a fixable aspect to the game and clearly, he probably knows this is something that needs improvement. But if you look at him in comparison to a prospect with a similar frame and power game, you can see why Kanz needs further evaluation and Schlueter already has the offer.
OG Mike Caliendo: An initial look at the Badgers' interest in Caliendo ($) might leave the casual prospect-watcher a little cold. Not me, though. Despite the fact the Brookfield East prospect is graded as a two-star prospect, he looks like a versatile prospect who can set up at multiple positions along the offensive line. You look at his highlight reel and you see someone with good agility and power.
He is currently committed to Western Michigan, so I know what you're saying.
"Why are we considering flipping an in-state, two-star guard with a MAC commitment?"
Two reasons. One, the last time the Badgers went after someone previously committed to P.J. Fleck, they landed T.J. Edwards. He might be starting as a redshirt freshman, and he was a two-star prospect. Two, look at the reel. Caliendo might be a legitimate sleeper.