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What’s next for Wisconsin’s 2019 recruiting class on defense?

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(And special teams!)

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Troy v Wisconsin Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While the Wisconsin Badgers do have two defensive commits for 2019 that you have a reason to get excited for in linebacker Leo Chenal and safety Bryson Shaw, there’s still plenty of space to fill on that side of the ball.

They do have leads on multiple prospects a grade level higher than what the Badgers are used to. Obviously, they’re not going to land them all, but let’s see where they could look to reload.

Defensive End

In terms of scholarship losses, the Badgers aren’t in a desperate position to need a prospect. But while they have no seniors and two scholarship juniors who have had minimal impact, look for them to add a player or two here. The fun fact: the Badgers are currently listed as warm on 247Sports for the No. 3 prospect in the nation, five-star Lewis Center, Ohio, defensive end Zach Harrison. They are also currently in play for a four-star defensive end out Mentor, Ohio, Noah Potter.

They’re trailing some of the usual suspects for a four-star out of Ohio (Ohio State and Penn State), but with the family willing to pay their way out to Madison, there’s at least a semblance of mutual interest. The big new hotness is Harrison White, a three-star prospect and J.J. Watt fan from Spring, Texas. If they have to look elsewhere, there’s a legacy out of Westerville, Ohio in three-star prospect Deontay Hunter II (Tony Lowery’s nephew), who does not have an unbeatable offer list as of yet.

Nose Tackle

With Garrett Rand officially moving to defensive end this season, the Badgers have one underclassman at nose tackle in Bryson Williams. And despite his ability to squat the rough equivalent of Andre the Giant three times, you have to have at least one more prospect. They also do not have an easy target on lockdown for the position quite yet. They’re highly interested in Mazi Smith and Rodas Johnson, but the interest isn’t currently mutual.

This might be a situation where it comes down to summer camp and in-season play to see exactly whom the Badgers can get. If a local kid, say someone like Wauwatosa East’s Austin Ertl, can impress on film or in a camp situation, he might get a big opportunity both academically and athletically.

Linebacker

With Ryan Connelly, T.J. Edwards, Arrington Farrar, and Andrew Van Ginkel all seniors, logically, Chenal is going to have multiple associates turning out to play linebacker next season. The Badgers are currently in the race for four-star linebackers Cade Stover out of Mansfield, Ohio, and Kane Patterson out of Nashville.

West Bloomfield, Mich., Lance Dixon is another four-star who was willing to make an unofficial visit to Wisconsin this weekend ($). As he’s former teammates with A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha, it warrants watching.

Beyond that, while there hasn’t been list-making and all that with Omaha four-star prospect Nick Henrich or Farrell, Pa. three-star prospect Kyi Wright, the Badgers are very strong contenders for both. Of course, this is also another position where they’ve been able to pull out some fun prospects later in the process, and we are still nine months away from any early signing deadline.

Cornerback

With Derrick Tindal and Nick Nelson working on their pro futures, the Badgers’ most veteran cornerbacks are sophomores. In and of itself, it’s not necessary to add a prospect for depth, but if you don’t want to have to work for quantity instead of aiming for quality, a positional addition or two is necessary. The current leader and most likely prospect to get added is a Rivals four-star prospect from the famed Fort Lauderdale, Fla., school, St. Thomas Aquinas. That would be Semar Melvin, the Badgers’ first scheduled official visitor in early June. The Badgers are also in contention with his teammate, Jaden Davis. They’ll also see if they can’t pull Tyus Fields, Nolan Groulx’s high school teammate. Failing that, they would go back to Kendric Pryor’s high school for Wynston Russell.

Safety

The Badgers have replaced one of their two 2019 scholarship losses (D’Cota Dixon and Evan Bondoc) with the 247Sports four-star lacrosse superstar/safety prospect with a ton of upside, Shaw.

Bucky’s 5th Podcast, Ep. 9: Shaw joins the show at 14:00. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and TuneIn.

It’s likely not necessary for the Badgers to take a second safety, but they’re in very deep contention with Springfield, Ohio, four-star safety Moses Douglass. He’s a high school teammate of Danny Davis and sees a similar path to success in Madison if playing where his father did in Kentucky doesn’t ultimately sway him. Beyond that, Lewis Cine moved to Texas and became a national recruit, so it seems that if the Douglass isn’t the guy and the second safety is in order, you’re likely looking at added effort toward Arlington, Texas, three-star prospect Ty DeArman.

Special Teams

As this year is the final year of the Rafael Gaglianone era, the Badgers will go after a kicker. It will likely be a summer camp offer, even though there were unofficial visits this weekend.