When you visit Madison and the weather's right, the city can almost sell itself. Lovely views, bustling streets, and a quality college campus, and on the first weekend that was closer to summer than winter in 2016, the Badgers might have just put themselves in contention with a top outside linebacker whose previous top four would absolutely preclude you from even whispering the word commitment.
Ben Mason receives offer
Spots could be a little bit tighter than originally thought, with rumors of former Pitt running back Chris James and Hawaii cornerback Nick Nelson potentially transferring to Wisconsin, and if converted fullback Leon Jacobs would receive a medical redshirt. With that said, that makes the Badgers offer to Sandy Hook, Conn. (Newtown) three-star outside linebacker Ben Mason real interesting.
The Badgers find themselves in contention with several talented possibilities at linebacker, but with that said, you could see Mason slotting himself in as an inside linebacker. He knows how to shed blocks and fill holes to be in on plays, as he had 100 tackles in his previous seasons. He also shows himself as a good blocker with surprisingly soft hands where you could slot him in as a fullback or an H-back if a positional switch became necessary.
As it goes, it looks like it will be a battle between Michigan and Wisconsin. Mason visited Ann Arbor on April 12, and Michigan has the crystal ball trend line. That said, the Badgers have had some luck on prospects that they went toe to toe with Michigan on where there wasn't major third parties involved.
Badgers go into Pasadena
While recent history has had the Badgers tending to make moves toward Pasadena at the end of the year, their first move going into the home of the Rose Bowl is for Terrance Lang, a 247sports four star defensive end prospect. The 6'5, 278-pound defensive end seems pretty perfect to slot in as a 3-4 defensive end, and this isn't a scenario where the Badgers are offering long after twenty public teams already have done.
The bad news: you're challenging for a California prospect where USC offered first. Not to say that it's an impossible challenge, but there's likely going to need to be a change in circumstances before a decision from Lang if the Badgers are going to be the favorites. It's one-on-one match-up for a prospect that the Badgers can give all sorts of attention to because spots are tight. It's definitely a name to remember.
Wisconsin makes a big move for Malone-Hatcher
It's been said before, and it will be said again. Going into Michigan and looking for anything but a sleeper can be called a fools errand. When you have Michigan and Michigan State, as well as Notre Dame and Ohio State as quality schools who have a floor of being good, you're dancing between raindrops if you're looking to try and land a prospect of note.
Sometimes, however you find a prospect that's willing to pay his own way to visit, and despite the weather and the Rutgers of it all, they want to come back. So while Ohio State had their spring day, four-star outside-linebacker from St. Joseph's, Mich., Corey Malone-Hatcher was in Madison last Saturday.
Why is this interesting? Because Malone-Hatcher, ranked in the Scout 300, skipped a school that he had a "warm" interest to on a highly important recruiting day for them to visit Wisconsin for the second time on his own dime. In the horseshoes and hand grenades of it all, getting to this point with a prospect that has Alabama, Michigan, and Notre Dame listed with the Buckeyes on that top four is a victory in and of itself. In the grand scheme of things, yes, this is still a potential long shot for Wisconsin, but if the loss comes, they absolutely did their level best. [ed. note: Read more in the BadgerNation.com here ($)]
Beyond Malone-Hatcher, the Badgers had a busy weekend with visits. Most are in the "on the road networking to get their name out there" stage of the process. And in a small class, they might become summer camp attendees. They might bloom during the season. Sometimes they're your January offers. Their time might not be today, but the names do warrant attention.
RB Davion Johnson (West Bloomfield, Mich.)
WR Armani Carmickle (Kenosha, Wis.)
WR Denzel Fondungallah (St. Paul, Minn.)
DT Christian Boyd (Muskegon, Mich.)
OLB/S Nico Bolden (Woodbury, Minn.)
CB Darrick Forrest (Columbus, Oh.)
S Nick Foster (Lombard, Ill.)