clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wisconsin football recruiting: Talking Badgers' needs after 12 commits

Saturday update: Make it 12 commits for Wisconsin after four-stars Cole Van Lanen and Craig Watts pledged to the Badgers.

Virginia wide receiver transfer Jamil Kamara.
Virginia wide receiver transfer Jamil Kamara.
Army Recruiting

With 247Sports finally joining the rest of the recruiting services in showing Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., inside linebacker Dallas Jeanty (as an aside, they really seemed to underrate him) as a Wisconsin commit, the Badgers are up to 10 commits for 2016.

In the middle of a run, it's time to reassess their needs. Which positions are closing, and which positions are in need of more prospects? Spoiler alert for the second question: We need cornerbacks. A bunch of cornerbacks.

Anyway, let's break it down, shall we?

Quarterback: The Badgers could look to add a second quarterback to the class with the transfer of Austin Kafentzis, but the camp offseason has been kind to Saguaro, Ariz., three-star commit Kare' Lyles. According to 247Sports, Lyles is currently the No. 26 quarterback in the nation and No. 36 in terms of a composite ranking. No other school has offered, but Lyles has gone from being a great arm and a good wager to a genuine, bona fide prospect.

Running backAntonio Williams is still committed, though he's talented enough where teams are still going to try and pull him. Whatever happens with Wisconsin running backs coach John Settle on the recruiting trail this season, he helped keep Williams in tow when the Badgers looked like they might lose out on him. So they're good here.

Don't be surprised if they get a fullback. Ravenna, Ohio, prospect Willie Ross was impressive at the Badgers' camp earlier this month, and among the visitors on campus this weekend is Rivals' No. 2 fullback prospect from Largo, Fla., Theo Anderson. Anderson is currently unoffered, but he seems to be enjoying himself in Madison.

Wide receiver: There's no reason to panic quite yet, but the Badgers are looking for two or three receivers and have none. They do seem to lead for four-star Kansas City, Mo., athlete A.J. Taylor, and are definitely in strong contention for Halladale, Fla., three-star Demari Simpkins and DeMatha, Md., four-star prospect Tino Ellis. Add in the fact that they potentially lead for former four-star prospect and Virginia transfer Jamil Kamara, and you can see they have plenty of good options even without mentioning Fontana, Calif., four-star athlete Damian Alloway or Fort Lauderdale three-star prospect Anthony Julmisse.

Tight end: You've already seen the Badgers attempt to be creative ($) in terms of their offers at the position, and you'll probably see more creativity. New Canaan, Conn., three-star prospect Jacob Morgenstern has seen his positional offer switch from linebacker to tight end. ($) Salisbury, Conn., prospect Jake Hescock is a tall (6'7) option who is already set up as a tight end. So, he might be one that the Badgers take. TL;DR, expect the Badgers to get a tight end from the WWE State.

Offensive line: It depends on the state of Cole Van Lanen. The Badgers look like the favorite for the four-star offensive tackle from Green Bay (Bay Port), Wis.,, and with Michigan ending up with Ben Bredeson as its third lineman, suddenly the race looks more like a battle of three than a battle of four for Van Lanen. If you want to talk about this possibly being the Badgers' race to lose, Michigan State already has three offensive linemen committed. So I feel comfortable enough that the Badgers can get themselves a star in Van Lanen.

If they do, they also already a high-upside prospect in tow in Patrick Kasl. Then they can see if Sioux Falls, S.D., four-star tackle Matt Farniok, Philadelphia, Pa., four-star guard Johncarlo Valentin or Baltimore, Md., four-star tackle Devery Hamilton would be viable. Failing that, there's always Alaric Jackson, a three-star from Detroit who might have lost a chance to fit with Michigan State. Even if that misses, Wisconsin could target a quality center prospect in St. Joseph, Mo., three-star Chase Behrndt or Western Michigan commit Mike Caliendo as a high-upside in-stater from Brookfield. Losing Bredeson sucks, but Wisconsin's offensive line class isn't going to be a trainwreck without him.

Defensive line: Chandler, Ariz., high four-star Garrett Rand is the dream home-run swing who Wisconsin will throw someone off scholarship for, and 6'7, 280-pound Thomas Schafer is the top target the Badgers have a real chance to bring in, especially with Michigan State landing so many defensive linemen. But don't be surprised if neither is the one who commits next. I know Wisconsin has two commitments already in Luke Benzschawel and Tyler Biadasz, but the Badgers have always had interest in Tampa, Fla., three-star defensive end Keldric Preston. Preston should be arriving in Madison for a visit on Friday ($). He's by no means an automatic commitment, as we all know Paul Chryst is a man who enjoys his processes. But he's a good prospect and by no means a consolation prize if the Badgers miss on Schafer.

Linebacker: The Badgers currently have four of them. Ostensibly, they could be done. I mean, four-star Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., prospect Bryce Youngquist is also in the "we're gonna kick someone off scholarship" camp to find space for. But he's 90 percent sure he's an Oregon Duck as we speak. As it stands, the two prospects this seems to directly hurt the Badgers most with is Jake Funk and Tymar Sutton.

Funk, the Damascus, Md., prospect, also had a good camp and seemed ready to commit before Griffin Grady and the jaunty Dallas Jeanty came aboard. Funk could be a safety, but the Badgers look like they're in real interesting shape at the position as well. They may take him anyway and sort everything out later -- after all, they have the space -- but his status is definitely up in the air.

As for Sutton, the McKeesport, Pa., prospect is the sort of inside linebacker that fits the Dave Aranda defense well. He's also an athlete like Funk that can make plays and show toughness on the inside. If the Badgers decide they're going to take one or the other, this is one of those decisions that you pay the coaches for. It would be a tough evaluation in everything but lazy racial sportswriter cliches. I hear any one of you call Jake Funk "gritty," there's gonna be trouble, I say. Trouble, my friend.

Cornerback: The Badgers have no cornerbacks and they will need, at the very least, three to get them through the short classes. We know about the arrival of Armunz Matthews from Tallahassee, Fla. K.J. Sails is set to visit next month ($). Otherwise, it's a whole lot of watch and wait to see how the board shakes out. Wisconsin is in play for plenty, but the movementy, processy stuff is still gearing up here.

Safety: I'm not saying be happy because there's a commit coming, because it's still early in his last visit cycle. But with St. Petersburg, Fla., four-star safety Craig Watts? If he commits elsewhere, the Badgers will have done everything they could here. I mean, it's a three-day visit and if you were wondering who had the @NoFlyZone_2016 moniker, It's Watts. It's to the point where the most knowledgable Badger writerman on the Internet has to admit the Badgers are definitely in it to win it.

I'm not going to tell you the Badgers are going to get the commit here, but at the very least, it looks like they're going to do their level best. Maybe the secret weapon will get a battle won.

If the Badgers lose out on Watts, they still have four-star prospect Eric Burrell from Owings Mills, Md., set to make an official visit in September (and he is likely in the same automatic take boat as Rand and Youngquist). While Travis Whillock decided on Houston or Northwestern, and there's seemingly no room at the inn for Paddy Fisher, if the Katy, Texas, trio decides not to go to college together, Wisconsin remains a strong contender for free safety Collin Wilder.

Special teamsRemember Atlanta punter Blake Gillikin? He landed a couple of offers between his spring game visit to Wisconsin and a potential specialists camp with Wisconsin on June 28. UW would be in a pitched recruiting battle with Penn State, but that's a winnable challenge for the Badgers. On the other hand, Georgia's offer is a challenge Wisconsin might not be able to overcome. Such is life. #PUNTEROFFER2K16 will ride again.