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Wisconsin football recruiting: What to look for as the dead period ends

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We're talking backs, cornerbacks and the dead period.

Caesar Williams
Caesar Williams
Student Sports

The dead period is over and for the Wisconsin Badgers, the question is more who fills in the final spots more than this being a question of oh my God can the Badgers survive the onslaught of decommitments that is sure to come in the final two weeks. Though with Dave Aranda at LSU, there is definitely a possibility that losses can happen.

But first, there's some good news at cornerback. While it looks like the Badgers' best efforts to flip Patrice Rene will fall short and K.J. Sails named a top five that does not include them, they look like they could soon fill that third spot at cornerback with a potentially underrated prospect.

Caesar Williams: Wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore has been good at finding quality prospects that seemingly slid under the radar, and with Williams, he might land himself one more. The 247Sports composite three-star prospect from Grand Prairie, Texas, was the only offer announced for the Badgers during the dead period, and if you look at his Hudl profile, you can see a prospect that would be real interesting.

Williams shows good athleticism and leaping ability with a quickness to close in coverage and when he needs to fill in run support. As a prospect listed at 6'1, 178 pounds, doing this at the highest level of Texas high school football, it's a skill set that can find purchase at the next level. As it stands, the Badgers are his best offer, as Indiana and SMU are the other schools in his top three. And being as he is set to visit this weekend and there are no other announced official visits, the Badgers could have cornerback filled real soon if there isn't a reason that would cause a delay or other reasons.

On Running Backs

To say that this position is going to be perceived as a recruiting disappointment is accurate. The Badgers went from a talented four-star back in Antonio Williams to a situation where they are looking for two running backs in January and seem to lack an available offer that they could land as a commitment. That's not to say that there aren't backs I like that the Badgers will offer and could land quickly. Heck, I'm not even all in on saying that John Settle's questionable ability on the trail is where Wisconsin fans should attempt to blame.

I mean, we don't know who exactly said the Badgers should stop going after Virginia early enrollee Tre Harbison. It seemed as if the Badgers had a flip locked down for the Shelby, N.C., prospect, but they decided to swing for the fences on three players. And with Katy, Texas, prospect Kyle Porter ultimately deciding not to visit, he joined C.J. Freeman and George Hill as prospects the Badgers swung for the fences on and ultimately fell short. So yeah, there's going to be some malaise when you consider reputation to stars.

As for what's happening now, expect an offer sent out to Glen Ellyn, Ill., three-star prospect Sam Brodner at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. The Badgers have closing ups in terms of an official visit. Sure, Illinois and Syracuse are going to get official visits and far be it for me to say they can't steal the commitment, especially the way this season has gone, but one of the answers for the position looks to be Brodner.

There is another interesting prospect in play the Badgers could be absconding with from sleepertown. As it stands, the next offer could go to Kameron Pickett, a three-star prospect and Miami (Ohio) decommit from Suwanee, Ga. Pickett has a listed 4.48 40-yard dash and skills that seem to have slipped through the cracks. You want a guy who is agile without being a dancer, who has hands that would be a perfect fit for one of the more effective plays in last season's offense, and who will lower his shoulder to get that extra yard? Pickett seems good for that, too.

Right now, you're looking at a back who's favoring Georgia State, and for someone who goes to North Gwinett, there is an attraction in terms of close to home as well as a program that seems to be building to something interesting. But he looks really interesting, and if he's another Wisconsin offer, he could easily be a steal.

The Flip Question

While losing Dave Aranda seemed to be the catalyst that cost UW K.J. Sails, the news is better on the home front in terms of who the Badgers might lose on the trail. Outside of Chandler, Ariz., prospect Garrett Rand reserving the right to say whether or not he's still a solid verbal based on who the Badgers hire as a defensive coordinator, Wisconsin really hasn't had word of a prospect trying to leave. I wouldn't be surprised if Rand gets several new offers in the wake of an upcoming announcement of a new defensive coordinator, but I'm not super worried yet.

Yes, I wrote a "don't panic about Antonio Williams" piece which ended up getting posted hours before he decommitted from Wisconsin, so caveat emptor, but most of the schools the Badgers had beaten to earn the initial commitment for Rand haven't had any major changes that would necessitate a second look. There's a chance this happens; after all, outside of Dallas Jeanty and Kare' Lyles, we're still three weeks away from having this be a firmed up deal. But Rand was really the only prospect that seems like a possible waver through the dead period.

After two years of bad January's on the trail, it seems as if this year might be one that could go nearly unscathed.