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A Michigan pipeline emerges for Wisconsin

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The “Michigan Eight” could grow in the coming years

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to show you two tables, and take a guess what the difference is.

Here’s the first one:

1999-2016 Wisconsin FB signees from Michigan

Class Name Stars (247)
Class Name Stars (247)
2015 David Moorman 3
2009 Zac Matthias 3
2009 Jacob Pedersen 2
2007 Quincy Landingham 3
2007 James Stallons 3
2005 Aubrey Pleasant 3
2004 Nick Sutton 2
2004 Allen Langford 2
2001 Jonathan Orr N/A
2001 Nick Tofferi N/A
1999 Jim Sorgi N/A
1999 Wendall Davidson N/A

Here’s the second:

2017-2019 Wisconsin FB signees from Michigan

Class Name Stars (247) Recruiter (247) Recruiter (Rivals)
Class Name Stars (247) Recruiter (247) Recruiter (Rivals)
2019 Logan Brown 5 Turner / Rudolph Turner / Rudolph
2019 Stephan Bracey 3 Turner / Gilmore Bostad / Gilmore
2018 Reggie Pearson 3 Bostad / Turner Turner / Leonhard
2018 Jaylan Franklin 3 Bostad / Turner Turner / Bostad
2018 Michael Furtney 3 Rudolph / Turner Rudolph / Turner
2018 Taj Mustapha 3 Turner / Gilmore Gilmore / Bostad
2018 A.J. Abbott 3 Turner / Gilmore Turner / Gilmore
2017 Scott Nelson 3 Leonhard Turner / Leonhard

That’s right, Michigan has suddenly become a pipeline for Wisconsin recruiting. From 1999-2016, Wisconsin averaged less than one Michigander per year, but that number has exploded to nearly three per year from 2017-19.

Further, the state of Michigan has served as a recruiting desert for the Badgers from 2010-16, only signing David Moorman in that time. Included in the recent explosion of recruiting success is one of the highest rated recruits Wisconsin has ever signed, Logan Brown.

That’s not to say that Wisconsin hasn’t had success with players from Michigan in the past. Jacob Pedersen, Aubrey Pleasant, Allen Langford, Jonathan Orr, and Jim Sorgi were all solid pieces for Wisconsin during the naughts. However, that success was quite a bit spread out. Only once did Wisconsin have consecutive seasons with Michiganders in its recruiting class, and that was 2004-05.

That has changed in a big way since 2017, as eight players from Michigan have hopped over the improperly named great lake to play for the Badgers. To make things simpler, let’s call the football players from Michigan the “Michigan Eight.” 2018 certainly was the highlight of this renaissance, with five players signing from the state.

While 247Sports and Rivals do not completely agree on who the primary and secondary recruiters were for the Michigan Eight, it has been some combination of Mickey Turner, Ted Gilmore, Bob Bostad, Joe Rudolph, and Jim Leonhard. Turner and Bostad have appeared to be the lead for the region during recent times, with Leonhard jumping in on players projected as defensive backs, Rudolph for offensive line, and Gilmore for wide receiver. Further, staff have played a role in securing teammates from the state in two straight years: Logan Brown and Stephan Bracey from East Kentwood this season and A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha from West Bloomfield last season. Also note that staff have developed these relationships in these areas of Michigan.

Who has Wisconsin beaten for these recruits?

Of the “Michigan Eight,” Wisconsin beat out some serious offers. Michigan State offered six of the eight, Minnesota and Kentucky offered five, and Iowa offered three. Take a look at the list of offers:

Michigan Eight competing offers

School list Number of offers to the Michigan Eight
School list Number of offers to the Michigan Eight
Bowling Green 7
Michigan State, Western Michigan, Toledo, Eastern Michigan 6
Minnesota, Kentucky, Central Michigan 5
Indiana, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Ball State 4
Iowa, Purdue, Iowa State, Akron, Northern Illinois, Miami (OH) 3
Teams include: Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Northwestern 2
Teams include: Alabama, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina 1

It comes as little surprise that the only “Michigan Eight” player the University of Michigan has offered is Logan Brown, who was rated by 247Sports as the top 2019 recruit from the state. With the resurgence of the Wolverines, it’s unlikely that Wisconsin will be stealing too many recruits who live down the street from Jim Harbaugh. However, Wisconsin has beaten out Michigan State for six of these eight recruits, even if MSU showed only cursory interest.

If Harbaugh hasn’t offered someone in the wolverine state, Wisconsin might be as good of a bet as any to land that recruit.

Who might be on Wisconsin’s radar in the future?

According to 247Sports, Wisconsin has four offers to Michiganders in the 2020 class and two offers for the 2021 class. According to the site, most of these are listed as “cool” except for Dallas Fincher, who is “warm.” Here are the list of offers so far:

2020-21 UW offers to recruits from Michigan

Class Position Name Rating (247) High School
Class Position Name Rating (247) High School
2020 WR Maliq Carr 3-Star Oak Park
2020 OG Dallas Fincher 3-Star East Kentwood
2020 DE Braiden McGregor 4-Star Port Huron Northern
2020 S Makari Paige 4-Star West Bloomfield
2021 OT Garrett Dellinger 5-Star Clarkston
2021 DT Rocco Spindler 5-Star Clarkston

You may notice something interesting here again. First, Wisconsin has offered two players form the same school in the 2021 class: Garrett Dellinger and Rocco Spindler from Clarkston.

Second, a few of those high schools should look awfully familiar. Yup, the recruiting team is going to the well again for East Kentwood which produced 2019 signees Bracey and Brown.

Oh, wait, Wisconsin is also heading back to West Bloomfield to try and snag four-star 2020 safety Makari Paige, who is from the same school as 2018 signees A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha.

It will be interesting to see what further offers Wisconsin makes to prep athletes from Michigan, but if this pattern continues, we may be talking about the “Michigan Nine” or the “Michigan Ten” this time next year.