As the sort of de facto recruiting guy at this place, being in the mood to write something else can tend to put you at a news disadvantage. I'm not complaining, mind you. Any time there would be a legitimate week off with offers and contacts to be made is a week where you fall behind.
There was, however, a lot of news that fell by the wayside while refs were being dastardly and Sam Dekker was riding off into the sunset with Wisconsin's seniors.
That's why I'm going to call this OfferMania. With the capital letter in the middle and everything. We're not going to talk about visits, though three-star cornerback Austin Andrews was on campus this weekend and there will be some big names coming in the future. We're not going to talk about the game of human chess, though with Minnesota picking up both Sam Schlueter and Sean Foster, two Badger targets have come off the board.
We're going to talk one thing: offers. Let's get to know some people.
S Cycoby Burch
6'1, 190 lbs.
Orlando, Fla. (Oak Ridge)
While Burch is currently unranked, there are a couple of reasons why the Badgers standing in contention for him is a good thing. For one, he has good hands. If he's in contention for an interception, he is definitely going to get there. Secondly, while he's not an extra linebacker like a Michael Caputo, he's absolutely a willing tackler.
As it stands right now, West Virginia was his first power-five offer, and the Mountaineers have the lead. But one can argue a visit to Madison changes the tide here.
CB Ke'Shan Pennamon
5'10, 170 lbs.
Jacksonville, Fla. (University Christian)
If I had a word to describe Pennamon, it would be "burst." When he has the ball in his hands, he's always a threat to get a chunk of yardage.
That said, if Pennamon comes to Madison, he would come in as a cornerback. With that sort of offensive shiftiness tied in with a willingness to attack the ballcarrier in run support, you take away an inch or two from his height, and he would be the perfect Gary Andersen corner. As it is, Pennamon is the sort of unranked, under-the-radar cornerback the Badgers would do well in grabbing. He has some good offers in Georgia Tech and Utah, and his Hudl tape is so good you'll forget you're listening to a dubstep track.
DE Keldric Preston
6'4, 240 lbs.
Tampa, Fla. (Robinson)
The metagame benefits in making the good wager on Luke Benzschawel is that the Badgers now have a safety net at a position where they contend for some good prospects. While Preston doesn't have the man-size of a Thomas Schaffer or the cachet or a Ron Johnson, he's definitely a name to know.
Preston's a three-star prospect with offers from some quality schools in Louisville, Miami and Mississippi State. He has a good ability to hand-fight and get off of blocks on the pass rush, and while the Badgers might not hold the same interest as Miami, they could grab a commitment with a little elbow grease.
CB Henry Miller
6'3, 191 lbs.
Kissimmee, Fla. (Gateway)
The three-star projected cornerback is a tremendous athlete, but the Badgers trail early. Right now, Miller has one big favorite, and that's Michigan State. Also, anytime you have someone who's listed at 6'3 projected to hang on at cornerback, there's always a chance his offer list just explodes.
While playing 8-ball with my gut feelings is leading me to say, "Reply hazy, try again later," on athleticism alone, Henry Miller is a power-five prospect.
CB Carlos Becker
6'1.5, 185 lbs.
Kissimmee, Fla. (Osceola)
Being cross-town rivals with Miller, Becker definitely surpasses him in one respect. Like Miller, Becker is offered by the Spartans. Unlike Miller, Becker also has an offer list that includes Florida State, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Ohio State. For a three-star prospect, that's a killer offer sheet.
The question remains: would any of these schools allow an early commitment? Becker knows how to break up a pass, ending last season with 14 break-ups, and you can see Wisconsin winning a football recruiting battle with Kentucky, Pittsburgh and N.C. State if the interest from the majors remains nominal. Either way, a cornerback over 6'0 with a listed 40-time around 4.43 can't not be intriguing.
CB Simeon Smiley
6'1, 205 lbs.
Pensacola, Fla. (Pensacola Catholic)
When you offer a prospect on the same day he commits to South Alabama, there's a touch of weirdness in the proceedings. That said -- and nothing against the Jaguars -- one would reasonably assume there will be more courting of the tall, three-star cornerback. Right now, it looks like Louisville and Wisconsin are the power-five schools making the chase.
Smiley has a good press ability against receivers coming off the line and he can play the run like a safety. In fact, one might say Smiley's only weakness is his basketball allegiances.
Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke!— Simeon Smiley (@smileyLegacy) April 7, 2015
(Also, that was a joke -- don't tweet at recruits.)
(Also, I know YOU probably won't. But someone else might. Don't tweet at recruits.)
WR Tariq Young
5'11, 175 lbs.
Every day Wisconsin is the only school that has an offer out to Young is another day the Badgers have a lead for a player that can contribute on special teams from day one. Not to say that the three-star Dreadnought doesn't have a future getting the ball in space and making things go, but honestly the floor is a taller, less whimsicial Kenzel Doe. Young has shown a shiftiness and a leaping ability to make him potentially much more than that on the offensive side of the ball.
CB/S KJ Sails
5'11, 170 lbs.
Gibsonton, Fla. (East Bay)
Right now, there are some questions as to where Sails will play in college. Looking at his Hudl tape, you see a solid three-star safety prospect that could grow into a Caputo role in Wisconsin's defense. Reports, however, have him being recruited as a cornerback ($.
I'm not going to tell you that it's not going to happen; after all, his Hudl profile lists a shuttle time of 4.20, which is great for a high school prospect and shows a fluidity in his hips that allows for being projectable to corner. You can honestly say without arrogance that in comparison to Cincinnati, Indiana, South Florida and Wake Forest, Wisconsin is the favorite here. If his Twitter is any indication, the Badgers' offer was huge.
Woke up thinking bout Wisconsin— KJ Sails Jr (@KJ2LiVE) April 13, 2015
Also, check his retweets. There's an easter egg on a previously mentioned prospect that agrees with the sentiment. I won't help you with a clue, although the prospect is also from Florida.
CB Armunz Mathews
5'11, 180 lbs.
Tallahassee, Fla. (North Florida Christian)
It's always interesting to see who the committed prospects go and Twitter-converse with. It helps the fanbase get acquainted with people who are going to be fan favorites early on (Hi, Kyle Penniston!), plus you can see who might be a higher-priority target. Sails is one, Mathews is another.
The three-star Mathews definitely has the athleticism, aggressiveness and hands to be somebody at cornerback if your team was to get him. As for the Badgers' chances, their top commit promoting Wisconsin on his timeline definitely doesn't hurt. And while the former South Florida commit has a couple of good offers on his list (Arizona and LSU), the Badgers might be in a Dominic Sheppard situation where the effort gets them a really good prospect.
As alluded to above, we're splitting this week's recruiting roundup into two. On Wednesday, we'll return with a broader regional look at who the Badgers are going after. For now, we wanted to get these Florida offers out to you, considering Wisconsin's preexisting and interesting relationships with the Sunshine State.