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National Signing Day: Wisconsin coaching staff discusses Class of 2017

Badgers coaches could finally discuss the incoming class of recruits on Wednesday.

MADISON — By rule, college football coaches cannot publicly speak about recruits until those players sign their National Letter of Intent.

On National Signing Day, the Wisconsin Badgers’ assistants spoke with the media for the first time about this next generation of Badgers and ho they see them fitting into the program.

As a reminder, you can find profiles on each signee right here and Andrew Rosin’s analysis of the 2017 class right here.

Wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore

On mid-year enrollee wide receiver Deron Harrell: “He’s a kid on tape that showed some athleticism playing on both sides of the ball. Basketball player, so those skill sets showed up. Of course his athleticism, and obviously we took him and waited on him because we felt he could play on either side of the ball, so he’ll start with me.”

On Austin, Texas, wide receiver Cade Green: “What stood out as we watched the tape, because we watched Cade one time, we kept coming back to his tape. He fit us. He’s a complete player. Although he plays in a spread system, he is one tough son of a gun. That stood out on the tape, and we just felt it was a fit. So we were very comfortable with that.

“He will bring some long-needed toughness to that room, I don’t question that at all.”

Follow-up question on Green: “Toughness. Blocking, I know one of the staples of the Wisconsin offense is having wide receivers block. You saw Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor see early time last year — especially Quintez with the way that he blocked in the Big Ten Championship game on Corey Clement’s run. Looking at his Hudl tape, Cade seems like he wanted to pancake those defenders. His coach talked about being “nasty” on there. You talk about toughness — is that what you’re talking about with the blocking?”

“Absolutely. There’s no question, and that’s the thing that stood out. And also, we feel like he’s a kid that could help us in special teams. He’s a guy that brings so much to the table, but the most important thing that I loved was that toughness that showed up on tape.”

On DeSoto, Texas, wide receiver Emmet Perry: “Obviously we were watching a couple other kids at that school, who was getting more attention than him, but yet he was leading the team in receiving at that point. So we did our homework, our research, and was comfortable with that. I feel his upside may be as big as anyone, because he’s got to grow into that body. You see a big kid that runs but we got to put some weight on him.”

Tight ends coach Mickey Turner

On Madison Memorial, Wis., tight end Jake Ferguson: “You know what, I know that as you go through this there are a lot that people can gather on there own, but something that a lot of people may not know about him without getting to experience him hand-to-hand is that he’s competitive. That’s what stuck out to me. He’s got the frame. He can make plays, he looks really good on film and plays basketball. He’s explosive, all of those you kind of need to have to be successful at the position. So, OK he’s got that, but the way he competes. He likes to play football.”

Special teams coach Chris Haering

On long-snapper Adam Bay and getting chemistry with specialist: “That’s the challenge certainly, and he’ll be here obviously with the rest of the freshman in June, so we’ll start working right away. Those guys will work on their own on the operation and make it as seamless as we can get. He’s got some big shoes to fill. Uds [Connor Udelhoven] did a heckuva job for us—in the two years I was here, we didn’t have one bad snap, and that’s pretty unique. Adam’s prepared to come in and knows the expectations and he’s excited for it.”

What stood out about Adam: “We don’t spend a whole lot of time obsessing over where they ranked. What sold us on Adam was him coming into the camp this summer. He was the best long-snapper in our camp and we had competition. We put those guys through drill work. It’s at that point in time where you really start diving into who he is. You find out from people at his school that he works extremely hard. He was a starting defensive end for them, so he’s an aggressive kid. Dig into his story even more, and you find out that four days a week he was driving 90 miles round-trip to work with a snapping coach. You think, hey, there’s a kid that is really talented and he fits the Wisconsin model of being smart, tough, dependable.”

Defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield

On De Pere, Wis., defensive lineman Aaron Vopal: “I like his size. I like his length. Last year, when we started evaluating him, I liked his athleticism. He still looks the same, but I’m excited to get him here and get working with him. He’s raw, but he can learn. He’s always hitting me up, ‘What can I work on?’ and all those different things, so I’m going to coach him up. I’m excited about that.”

On walk-ons Michael Balistreri and Matt Henningsen: “Balistreri to me, when I watch his film, reminds me of Conor Sheehy. Big, athletic, can run, so you look at that, and yeah, I would love to have that guy on our squad. Reminds me totally of Conor. Matt, I had a chance to have him in camp, working him on offense and defense. Love the way he works, love the way he approaches the game, love his energy, love that he’s going to be a part of this team and this family. I’m excited to work with all three of them.”

Outside linebacker Tim Tibesar

On finding JUCO transfer Andrew Van Ginkel: “To be honest, he was recommended to us by another college coach who knew about Andrew’s situation, that he had gone from the University of South Dakota to Iowa Western and looking to go to a major college after this. So he called our staff and let us know about him. We checked into his film from his year at South Dakota and were extremely impressed and thought he was a great fit for us at outside linebacker in our 3-4 defense.”

What he sees in Van Ginkel to fill in and start competing: “Obviously, we wouldn’t have gone and recruited him and brought him in if we didn’t think that he was going to be a player that could contribute to our program right away. He really actually fills a void because we don’t have anyone in the outside linebacker room that’s in his class. We have Garret Dooley now, who’s going to be the lone senior class with T.J. Watt leaving early, and there’s no one in the junior class. Then we have Zack Baun, Tyler Johnson and Max Praschak in that next class. He kind of fills that open spot already in that class between the juniors and the sophomores in the class.”