Another Michigan product has announced his intentions to play for the Wisconsin Badgers. West Bloomfield wide receiver Taj Mustapha publicly committed to UW on Tuesday evening, becoming the Badgers’ 14th commit in the class of 2018.
The first receiver in the class, Mustapha is yet another commit in the month of June. He follows the likes of Westlake, Texas, tailback Nakia Watson, Gibraltar, Mich., athlete/tight end Jaylan Franklin, and Culver City, Calif., cornerback Alexander Smith, who in this month have visited and subsequently pledged to play for the Badgers.
Mustapha’s commitment wraps up at least one player at his position in this upcoming recruiting cycle and demonstrates the program’s influence in the Wolverine State. With his addition, the Badgers’ class of 2018 ranks No. 24 by 247Sports, No. 20 by Rivals, and No. 19 by Scout.
Impact as a wide receiver
Mustapha’s Hudl film shows a player impacting West Bloomfield’s offense in multiple ways, and when Wisconsin just recently offered the Michigan product, wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore’s seal of approval was revealed.
As any good Wisconsin wide receiver who finds time on the field will do, Mustapha blocked and even pancaked a couple of defenders. That reminded me of 2017 commit Cade Green’s film, and with the stable of tailbacks the Badgers could boast in the coming years, that will be a characteristic he’ll need to continue to utilize and build upon.
In the passing game, Mustapha can reel in passes near the sideline and go up to make plays. His speed at the high school level allowed him to get past defenders on deep throws, and he also showed his elusiveness in taking passes—like the short screen pass early in the Hudl film—and breaking them for big yardage.
Impact on recruiting
As with Franklin’s commitment, there’s a two-fold impact of Mustapha puddle-jumping over Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. We’ve noted previously the class of 2018 will not be extremely large by any stretch of the imagination. Wisconsin’s senior class only shows 16 seniors on the roster, though you can assume two spots for strong safety D’Cota Dixon and placekicker Rafael Gaglianone should be withheld for medical redshirts. Still, the exact number of scholarships available is not clear.
In a broad sense, Wisconsin continues its recruiting hot streak in the Wolverine State. That’s now four Badgers in the class of 2018 with Mustapha joining the likes of Franklin, safety Reggie Pearson, and offensive lineman Michael Furtney. Will wide receiver A.J. Abbott, who now has the Badgers in his top three after also receiving recent offers from Iowa and Michigan State, join his new prep teammate at the next level?
Where it gets interesting here is on the positional level. Abbott reportedly wanted to commit this weekend, but will another player swoop in? Two instantly come to mind in Brooklyn, N.Y., prospect Aron Cruickshank and speedy Avon, Ind., recruit Issac Guerendo. Guerendo holds a recent offer from the Badgers and was reportedly timed with a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash at a Notre Dame camp. Cruickshank has been trending to the Badgers in the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections and reportedly visited recently.
Do the Badgers even have room to take another wide receiver, and where else do they address needs--at nose tackle, or possibly at cornerback again?