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Wisconsin football recruiting: Evaluating Badgers' defensive commits, targets post-spring

After taking a look at the state of Wisconsin's offensive recruiting efforts, let's examine how things are looking on defense.

Lake Forest, Ill. (Lake Forest Academy) defensive end Thomas Schaffer.
Lake Forest, Ill. (Lake Forest Academy) defensive end Thomas Schaffer.
Student Sports

The defensive situation for Wisconsin at this point is definitely a lot busier than the offensive. I mean, look at the cornerback offers and targets, and you can see the Badgers are looking at pieces that can be intriguing

Overall, there are a lot of players and a lot of options out there. Remember, this is early. We're going to have some highs and some lows, and some cool names before the days end.

Defensive line

On scholarship: 12
Graduating seniors: 2 (Jake Keefer, James Adeyanju)
Committed: Luke Benzschawel

There are some prospects who have yet to find their landing slot. UW signees David Pfaff and Kraig Howe can grow into nose tackles, but it looks as if the Badgers will be going after at least one more defensive lineman for this class. There's no new name to know -- it's still Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin legacy from New Jersey; Thomas Schaffer, the 6'7, 285-pound prospect from Lake Forest, Ill.; and Mike Panasiuk, a nose tackle with some ridiculous lateral agility from Roselle, Ill.

There's definitely a need for the Badgers to grab one more, but with that said, they're in a spot where they can take chances on highly touted prospects like four-star defensive end and recent offer from Salt Lake City Maxs Tupai.


On scholarship: 12
Graduating seniors: 2 (Joe Schobert, Jesse Hayes)
Committed: Mason Stokke

Wisconsin's situation at linebacker is highly interesting. For one, early-enrollee walk-on Ty DeForest had a big spring to the point where he got listed on the projected depth charts going forward. That means the Badgers might not need to get upward of four linebackers to have a good chance at the position. But, and I said this when Stokke committed, the Badgers are in on a lot of linebackers at a point early enough where you can consider them to be takes.

I put IMG Academy's Jango Glackin first because he's making an unofficial visit this weekend with all the conventional wisdom coming toward him being the next commitment up. You want to call it a commit alert? Go ahead. I won't stop you.

Beyond that, there are six other linebackers for whom you don't have to stretch to say the Badgers are in contention for. You've got a couple of four-star prospects in Marvin Terry from Dallas (South Oak Cliff) and Noah Burks from Carmel, Ind. There's a good pass rusher in Keith Simms from Bethesda, Md., and a spring game unofficial visitor in Brayden Stringer from Cypress, Texas. Add in a versatile athlete who might be a take if the Badgers go on a linebacker run in New Canaan, Conn., three-star prospect Jacob Morgenstern and a recent offer that could steal a player from Iowa in Sycamore, Illinois' Nick Niemann.

Heck, this was without me even mentioning Griffin Grady from Dublin, Ohio. The Badgers are fine at linebacker; any future offers could be for more highly-touted home-run swings like Jaquan Yulee.


On scholarship: 9 
Graduating seniors: 5 (A.J. Jordan, Darius Hillary, Devin Gaulden, Terrance Floyd, T.J. Reynard)

A message to all would-be freshmen: the race to seeing the field as a nickel cornerback for Wisconsi next season looks like one in which you have to beat out two players with a combined two years of experience at cornerback. Not to throw Natrell Jamerson or Titus Booker under any sort of bus -- their physical upsides are tremendous for the position -- but they are raw. Previous cornerback experience would give you a real chance of getting onto the field from day one.

As it stands, Austin Andrews might have been voted most likely to fill one of the needs. The 6'1 corner out of Columbus, Ohio, doesn't have that Ohio State offer, but Michigan State is winning the recruiting battle here. It was planned that he was all set to make an unofficial visit and potential official verbal commitment this weekend, but the plans changed. The window's open, if only for a crack.

Other cornerbacks the Badgers are working the beat hard on include Florida prospects Armunz Matthews (three-star, Tallahassee) and K.J. Sails (three-star, Gibsonton). This explains why the Badgers would look at Tariq Young as a defensive possibility, and recent offers to Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco), three-star cornerback Traevon Beck and Calabasas, California's Boise State commit and son of former Packer Isaiah C. Hayes look like they might be able to gain the Badgers some traction.


On scholarship: 4 
Graduating seniors: 2 (Michael Caputo, Tanner McEvoy)

So long as they don't come up empty-handed here, the Badgers look like they'll be fine next year at the safety slot. Both Lubern Figaro and Leo Musso have in-game experience. Joe Ferguson has shown himself to be valuable, at the very least on special teams, so I wouldn't be surprised if one of the available scholarships comes his way at some point.

When you consider the Badgers are in strong contention for Cycoby Burch out of Orlando, Fla., and definitely in play for Eric Burrell out of Owings Mills, Md., this is a fine shape with so long to go.

Special Teams

On scholarship: 2 
Graduating seniors: 1 (Drew Meyer)

Drew Meyer and his star-crossed career of degenerative puntery writes its final chapter this season. We're hoping for more, but we'll sublimate all the anger of the bad punts into Joel Stave and get sufficiently hyped for #PUNTEROFFER2K16 because Atlanta punter Blake Gillikin came up to visit for spring ball. Truth be told, he's got punts that can flip fields, and unless it all goes awry, he should get the #PUNTEROFFER2K16 at the camp.

I know what you're thinking. Did I just show you a punter's highlight reel? I did. But it goes to show that I'm still feeling good enough about the class of 2016 as it stands now, that even while feeling less than confident about the state of play on Ben Bredeson, I'm willing to give you some top-notch special teams.

I'm dancing as fast as I can with the busy season. We'll meet back here next week.