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2019 WR Cooper Nelson signs, S Dante Caputo commits as 2019 Wisconsin walk-ons

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The tradition continues with players with two familiar last names.

It wasn’t all quiet on the recruiting front for the Wisconsin Badgers during Wednesday’s National Signing Day. Two 2019 recruits, wide receiver Cooper Nelson and strong safety Dante Caputo, appear set on joining UW.

Their last names should ring a bell, as Cooper is the son of former starting safety and 1994 Rose Bowl winner Scott Nelson. Caputo is the cousin of former Wisconsin safety Mike Caputo, who played for the Badgers from 2011-15.

Nelson verbally committed on Jan. 31, and Wisconsin announced his signing on Wednesday. UW’s National Signing Day page confirms he will come to Madison as a walk-on.

Caputo announced his intention to play for the Badgers on Wednesday afternoon. Wisconsin has not yet confirmed the signing on social media or the NSD page. However, Jensen Gebhardt, a Wisconsin quality control assistant who works specifically with Wisconsin’s recruiting, retweeted Caputo’s tweet.

After visiting Wisconsin in January, he tweeted that he received a preferred walk-on offer.’s Jon McNamara also confirmed that on Wednesday night.

On Dec. 19, Wisconsin announced six walk-ons to the class of 2019. They included wide receiver Cam Phillips, long snapper Peter Bowden, kicker Blake Wilcox, offensive lineman Logan O’Brien, outside linebacker Tatum Grass, and inside linebacker Jackson Kollath.

Caputo, Phillips, and Bowden are the three out-of-state walk-ons in this class.

WR Cooper Nelson

According to, Nelson caught 60 passes for 1,027 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018. With that productive season, the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association named him as a large-school all-state wideout.

Here is Nelson’s bio from Wisconsin’s NSD page, which lists him at 6’4, 185 pounds:

High School: First-team all-state by Associated Press and Wisconsin Football Coaches Association as a senior … finalist for Al Toon Award presented to state’s top senior wide receiver … All-Big 8 Conference selection at wide receiver as a junior and senior … two-time all-area … recorded 60 receptions for 1,027 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior … helped Sun Prairie to 13-1 record and Division 1 state title game appearance as a junior, catching 39 passes for 794 yards and 6 TDs … finished career with 105 receptions for 1,896 yards and 19 TDs … also lettered in basketball, baseball and track … team captain as a senior … four-year honor roll student … coach was Brian Kaminski

Personal: Parents are Scott and Becky Nelson … father played football at Wisconsin from 1989-93 and was starting safety on Badgers’ 1993 Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl-winning team … uncle Todd Nelson played football at Air Force … uncle Rick Nelson was UW football team manager from 1996 to 2000

S Dante Caputo

From Wexford, Pa. (North Allegheny), Caputo’s Hudl’s profile lists him as an outside linebacker and strong safety. Caputo told B5Q on Wednesday night that Wisconsin is looking at him as a strong safety, the same position his cousin played while wearing the cardinal and white.

Judging from his senior-season highlights, he certainly fits the mold. At the prep level, Caputo showed the ability to make some open-field tackles, rush the passer when needed, and cause disruption in the backfield.