The future of the Wisconsin Badgers' defense gained a significant boost in the 2016 recruiting class with the verbal commitment of Carmel, Ind., outside linebacker Noah Burks on Saturday.
Considered a top-50 outside linebacker nationally, 247Sports, Scout and Rivals rank Burks as the No. 23, No. 41 and No. 48 outside linebacker, respectively. He's a 247Sports composite three-star prospect (four-star by 247Sports itself) and the No. 38 prospect at the position.
Tale of the tape (via The Opening Columbus Regional)
Weight: 225 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.79 seconds
20-yard pro shuttle: 4.38 seconds
Kneeling powerball toss: 34'
Vertical jump: 33.9"
What it means on the field
When it comes to on-the-field ability, Burks offers plenty as seen on his Hudl tape -- disclaimer, Hudl only shows a recruit's positives, but there's a lot of good things to see in the 8:31 of footage above.
When used on or near the line, Burks demonstrates a natural ability to shed his blocker and find the ball carrier. He has a motor and closes in on his target nicely, as seen when chasing down quarterbacks on a rollout or option. He appears very sound in pass coverage.
When Burks arrives on campus in 2016, Wisconsin will once again have Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State in its conference schedule as Big Ten crossover opponents as well as in 2019, with the Jim Harbaugh-led Wolverines an annual opponent from 2016 to 2019. Burks will need to be one of those players needed to fill the gap after outside linebackers Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert exhaust their eligibility in the coming years, whether coming off the edge or out in coverage against crucial opponents.
He will also be a nice complement to recent 2016 verbal commit, Amherst, Wis., defensive lineman Tyler Biadasz, who can absolutely blow opponents off the ball with his strength.
What it means for recruiting
Wisconsin received its first out-of-state linebacker commitment of the year, which could be a huge momentum boost as Wisconsin hopes to land a few more crucial out-of-state defensive players (Ed. note: It was reported Saturday night that Fort Lauderdale, Fla., inside linebacker Dallas Jeanty planned on committing to Wisconsin, though we're not sure what will happen with the potential eighth commit of this class).
The Badgers also reasserted their Indiana recruiting prowess after losing out on Isaac James last year. James attended the same high school as Burks.
Positionally, Burks joins three-star Menomonie, Wis., recruit Mason Stokke as future outside linebackers for defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's 3-4 defense. How many outside linebackers will the Badgers take in this class, especially with New Canaan (St. Luke's School), Conn., linebacker Jacob Morgenstern and four-star Rancho Cucamonga (Los Osos), Calif., 'backer Bryce Youngquist still appearing high on Wisconsin's interest list?
With a huge recruiting week ahead for Wisconsin with Craig Watts, Armunz Matthews and Morgenstern coming to Madison, the Badgers can take a slight exhale with the addition of Burks.