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National Signing Day 2016: Wisconsin Badgers bring in talented class led by Garrett Rand, Cole Van Lanen

Our writers discuss the their thoughts on the class of 2016, a promising set of student-athletes for Wisconsin.

In a paragraph, what are your general thoughts on Wisconsin's class of 2016 commitments?

Jake Kocorowski: The Wisconsin Badgers and its coaching staff have to be pleased with this class, not just for closing the deal early on four-star studs in Cole Van Lanen, A.J. Taylor and Garrett Rand, but also holding on to all of the defensive recruits after defensive coordinator Dave Aranda left for LSU for the same position. Rand's reaffirmation earlier in the week solidified a class that, as of writing this, is still in the Top 25 on, No. 33 on and No. 31 on 247Sports, some of the best-ranked in school history. Though they didn't lock down Antonio Williams at running back, they solidified some depth with Illinois Player of the Year Sam Brodner, and addressed position needs in the secondary, among other positions. Head coach Paul Chryst and his staff deserve a lot of credit.

Andrew Rosin: I can do it in a word. Happy. You had questions about the staff's ability to recruit on the trail, but this was pretty close to a national class, grabbing talent from Arizona and Connecticut as well as Florida and Ohio. They also won a few battles on the trail in unexpected places. And maybe most importantly, they were able to hang on to the class.

Kevin O'Connell: Overall, I think Wisconsin fans have to be pleased with Chryst's first full recruiting class. They recruited all over the country while still keeping in-state talent and plucking some players from familiar states like Ohio and Illinois. It is also encouraging to still see talent-laden Florida as a priority under Chryst. An infusion of youth in the secondary as well as continued success in recruiting lineman are things to be excited about with this particular class.

Zach Sinykin: I am very satisfied with this class. Chryst and Co. were able to go toe to toe with some of the biggest programs in the country and held their own.

What was the biggest surprise or area of need the Badgers' coaching staff addressed?

Kocorowski: Biggest surprise has to go with Rand's initial commitment. On the same day as 2017 offensive lineman Kayden Lyles, both committed to UW. Rand has a physical presence to him already, with him already able to bench over 500 pounds. The defensive line is deep this year and next, but he's got the talent to break through the two-deep.

Biggest area of need, with Andrew and Kevin noting key positions below, I'll go punter. Wisconsin was 107th in net punting last year (35.4 net yards per punt), and Drew Meyer -- having to deal with three coaches in his time -- regressed to under 40 yards per kick since 2012. Peach State product Anthony Lotti should have that opportunity to step in almost immediately and challenge for the starting punter position. He's a three-star recruit who's a two-time all-state selection, and averaged 43.8 net yards per punt last year. Can he translate that over to the college game? Special teams coach Chris Haering and the team sure hopes so.

Rosin: Wide Receiver. The Badgers finding an impact scholarship player at the position has been tough going since they found Nick Toon. But in Taylor you have a receiver who can be a home run threat and get there quickly. Add to that a high-upside "throw it up and I'll go get it" receiver in Quintez Cephus and someone who was merely really productive his senior season in Kendric Pryor. Wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore did some real work on developing what the Badgers had at receiver last year, it should be fun to see how he builds with this group.

O'Connell: Secondary. Wisconsin clearly made this a priority for 2016, with a number of impact players graduating in the next couple of years. With McEvoy and Caputo both gone, a pair of Maryland recruits (Eric Burrell and Patrick Johnson) add depth to the safety position and figure to be impact players during their Badger careers. Wisconsin also solidified the cornerback position with high-upside prospects in Caesar Williams, Dontye Carriere-Williams and Ke'Shan Pennamon. Athletic secondary prospects are traditionally difficult for the Badgers to get, so seeing Chryst lock-up a number of talented defensive backs is exciting for the future of Wisconsin's defense.