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Wisconsin football recruiting: Previewing Badgers' 2017 needs on offense

Wisconsin could have a smaller-than-usual 2017 recruiting class. Here's who the Badgers might end up with.

West Sayville (Sayville), N.Y., quarterback Jack Coan.
West Sayville (Sayville), N.Y., quarterback Jack Coan.
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The Wisconsin Badgers passed National Signing Day with 87 committed prospects on scholarship, and while it goes without saying that they are are bound to encounter roster attrition, the Badgers have 15 current seniors on those scholarships, two prospects in cornerback Deron Harrell and left tackle Ryan Ramczyk who are in line to get them sooner rather than later and two 2017 commitments from guard Kayden Lyles and defensive end Aaron Vopal.

In short, the Badgers could be looking at a 2017 recruiting class of less than 18 prospects, let alone 25. Sure, it's not going to be a situation as bad as it was in 2012, but the whimsical fun of, "Hey, look, we got commits!" is going to be lessened by the sheer, simple fact that Wisconsin's already potentially three deep into the class of 2017 and isn't really going to wave goodbye to that many prospects. The road to getting back to 85 scholarship players and beyond is going to get done faster than it would in most years.

So, with the caveat that any names mentioned aren't assured to land at Wisconsin, we're here to give you a preview of the class of 2017. Below is the offensive side of the ball; here's the defense.


On Scholarship: 3
Graduating Seniors: Bart Houston

The shunting off of Austin Kafentzis and D.J. Gillins to parts non-Madison have put the Badgers in a bit of a quarterback bind. They're in need of at least one prospect, and probably two for 2017. West Sayville, N.Y., four-star prospect Jack Coan is the best the Badgers seem to be in the race for right now -- though three-star prospect from Bay St. Louis, Ms., Myles Brennan seems the most likely current offer to commit.

If Wisconsin has to make more offers, the first names to look at would be Algonquin, Ill., three-star Chris Katernick or Colleyville, Texas, three-star Cam Roane.

Running Back

On Scholarship: 9 (2 fullbacks)
Graduating Seniors: Corey Clement, Dare Ogbunwale, Serge Trezy

There are two interesting possibilities facing the Badgers that could shift their needs in other directions. If the athleticism of former high school running back Leon Jacobs helps him finally find a position in the backfield and the admissions chimera doesn't cause Pittsburgh transfer Chris James to look elsewhere, the Badgers could actually get away with zero running backs. More likely, they'll hit one, and they will need to land one high school prospect.

As it goes, the Badgers have made some offers to go with Ivory Kelly-Martin in high four-star prospect from LaGrange, Texas, J.K. Dobbins and four-star prospect from Groton, Mass., A.J. Dillon. The odds of the Badgers getting into deep contention for either aren't super great, but they're not "Louisiana running back that already has 31 offers, so this is basically nominal," either.

Next in line for offers, the Badgers will probably see if New Jersey is kind to them again with Egg Harbor City's Bo Melton or go after one of the more hyper-productive runners in Mansfield, Texas, three-star prospect Kennedy Brooks.

At fullback, the Badgers have two on scholarship and neither is a senior. Expect zero new additions.

Wide Receiver

On Scholarship: 9
Graduating Seniors: Reggie Love, Robert Wheelwright

The class of 2016 has high hopes at receiver, and looking forward into 2017, the Badgers might be able to pull a second straight quality class. They currently have the best offer advantage for Oak Lawn, Ill., four-star Ricky Smalling, as well as 6'3 receiver from Walled Lake, Mich., Cody White and under-the-radar receiver Trent Cloud from Bedford, Ohio. In terms of everything, landing Smalling would be a major key to Wisconsin's class right now.

There is also likely going to be at least another 150 offers made, so mileage may vary here.

Tight End

On Scholarship: 5
Graduating Seniors: Eric Steffes

If the Badgers land Jake Ferguson -- and when you consider that the Madison Memorial prospect is Barry Alvarez's grandson, it's not exactly a far-fetched premise -- he will likely be their sole addition at tight end. With a 6'5 frame and good hands, he shows a potential to be a good move tight end.

If Ferguson wants to go his own way, the Badgers aren't in a dire need to make with commitments, as three of their five scholarship players are freshmen.

Offensive Line

On Scholarship: 11
Graduating Seniors: Dan Voltz, Walker Williams
Already Committed: Kayden Lyles

The Badgers might not have to leave the state of Wisconsin to get themselves a committed offensive line. With offers out to Menominee's Alex Fenton, Kimberly's Logan Bruss and Port Washington's Tyler Beach, they could miss on one and still find themselves with offensive line prospects that have the athleticism and frame to become worthy down the line. They might just be offers in name only, especially considering Michigan's mutual interest with several top-notch offensive linemen as well as its tendency to be more fluid with spots in January, but the Badgers are a public team and the fact they offered all three does have value.

Elsewhere, Wisconsin has gained something of a toehold with highly touted Holmdel, N.J., tackle prospect Micah Clark. It's not enough to say, "Hey, the Badgers have a good shot with a prospect as touted as Kayden Lyles," but it's in play in a territory with one of Wisconsin's best recruiters on the case. It definitely warrants mentioning.

This also is a group where the only potential scholarship junior would be if the Badgers find space for Ramczyk after roster attrition, so I would not be surprised if they kept this class on the smaller side again.