The positive fallout from the Wisconsin Badgers’ weekend of visitors (and its camp) continued on Monday evening, as Gibraltar, Mich. (Oscar A. Carlson) athlete Jaylan Franklin verbally committed to UW.
That’s three class of 2018 prospects who pledged to play in Madison for their collegiate careers in five days, as Austin, Tex. (Westlake), tailback Nakia Watson also publicly committed to Wisconsin on Saturday (note—it appears he did so that Friday evening). A day after Franklin made his collegiate intentions known, Culver City, Calif. cornerback/returner Alexander Smith tweeted on Tuesday evening that he would join the program.
Franklin is a tall, athletic teen who currently plays different positions than what he’s expected to play—it’s been widely reported he’s supposed to be a tight end. Nonetheless, with a 6’4-6’5 frame and his physical abilities, he has the potential to be another significant player at a position that’s churned out the likes of Owen Daniels, Travis Beckum, Lance Kendricks and currently Troy Fumagalli.
Impact as a tight end
As seen in his Hudl highlights from the 2016 season, Franklin is shown as a quarterback and what appears to be outside linebacker. What stands out in his film is his speed on both sides of the ball, along with his willingness to initiate and take on the brunt of contact.
Whether rushing off the edge or hitting the edge on certain runs, there’s an athleticism and dynamic ability to make plays in the open field.
There probably will be a learning curve at learning a new position, but tight ends coach Mickey Turner has molded his position group well in his two seasons after coming back to his alma mater. That should continue not just with Franklin but also class of 2017 commit Jake Ferguson.
“Jaylan is a really good athlete. I know some schools liked him at linebacker, but I always felt his athleticism would make him a fine tight end so I think he will thrive there for Wisconsin,” Scout.com’s Allen Trieu said. “He will have to get bigger, but he had all the athletic gifts to make the transition from quarterback. I think it's also great for UW to keep getting these Michigan kids, especially ones they have to beat many other Power 5 schools for like Franklin.”
Impact on recruiting
There’s a two-fold impact of Franklin’s commitment. At the class level itself, Wisconsin’s senior class is not large. There’s currently 16 noted seniors on the roster, though you can assume strong safety D’Cota Dixon and placekicker Rafael Gaglianone should be granted an extra year of eligibility due to injuries suffered in recent years. The exact number of scholarships available are not necessarily clear at the moment.
Wisconsin received their tight end commitment, so taking a second with limited possible scholarship numbers available and other positions needing to be filled may be difficult. If a four-star talent in George Takacs, who currently has “high” interest in UW according to Scout and Rivals, wants to commit down the road, that will be interesting to watch.
The bigger significance is how Wisconsin has recruited the state of Michigan very well over the past couple of years, especially this class of 2018. Currently, there are three players from the Wolverine State in Franklin, safety Reggie Pearson and offensive lineman Michael Furtney.
Those three, along with wide receivers Taj Mustapha and A.J. Abbott were in state this past weekend to visit and take in the camp. Both were offered, with Abbott telling Trieu it’s a “dream offer” ($) and BadgerBlitz.com that the school was “definitely top school” ($). That was, of course, before Iowa and Purdue offering Abbott in the past couple of days.
Pearson, a three-star recruit out of River Rouge, was the first commit for the class of 2018 and is doing his part to try to persuade his fellow in-state peers to cross over Lake Michigan to join them. Could there be a Wisconsin “Fab Five” coming to Madison?