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Wisconsin football recruiting: the top targets remaining for 2021 class

With the bulk of the 2021 recruiting class already committed, here is a quick synopsis of who the Badgers could still land.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The vast majority of the 2021 recruiting class has been committed to the Wisconsin Badgers for some time now.

Wisconsin did a great job of identifying and closing on many of their top targets early on in the process, and currently sit in the top-20 of the recruiting rankings according to both 247Sports and Rivals with 19 commits.

While there is not a lot of room for further growth given roster constraints, that hasn’t stopped Paul Chryst and his staff from continuing to pursue some best available talent that is still undecided.

Here is a look at some of the top prospects still hearing from the Badgers that could help finish off the 2021 recruiting class, and the chances they wind up at Wisconsin.

Jake Ratzlaff, Rosemount, Minn., 3-star OLB

A really talented athlete, Jake Ratzlaff has a decision to make. Play hockey at the University of Minnesota, or play football. His decision became a lot more difficult recently after he went undrafted in the NHL Draft, but if he opts to play football he supposedly is favoring the Badgers and Gophers. Wisconsin is considered the more likely landing spot if he chooses the gridiron, but as a Minnesota native the draw to stay home is still present.

Ratzlaff is a really good linebacker that could play outside or inside in Jim Leonhard’s defense, making him a nice potential addition to a really strong group of linebacker commits.

Likelihood: 40%

I still believe that Ratzlaff is the most likely player, that the staff is still recruiting hard, to end up a Badger. There is still a 50-50 shot he chooses to pursue hockey, and around a 10% chance he picks the Gophers for football, but for now I will run with a 40% chance he comes to Wisconsin.

Markus Allen, Clayton, Ohio, 3-star WR

The Badgers have been heavily involved with Markus Allen ever since he decommitted from Michigan back in early September. The high three-star wide receiver would be a big get if the staff is able to bring him in, and he would pair really nicely with WR commit Skyler Bell given his 6-2 frame and jump ball capabilities. The Wisconsin commits have been working diligently on Allen for some time now, and have the Badgers in the thick of things.

Allen was hasty in making his decision the first go round, and he is being very methodical this time. The Ohio native is giving a good hard look at a few schools, but Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Ohio State appear to be the most likely landing spots.

Likelihood: 25%

Markus Allen seems to be holding out for a scholarship offer from Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a very deep and talented class, including two four-star wide receivers, but the potential of a dream offer still looms large. Cincinnati is off to a hot start this year and also has the hometown angle working in their favor if OSU doesn’t come calling, but one would have to wonder how long head coach Luke Fickell will be there.

I think the likelihood of Wisconsin winning out in this recruitment greatly increases if Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline passes on Allen, but his senior film is really good, and we have seen this type of recruitment play out before with players like Malik Harrison and Kyle Dodson in the past.

I think Allen is going to wait until the eleventh hour to choose, and until OSU confirms they are out, I am going to keep the chances fairly low. Allen is the type of player that the Badgers could really use though, and I think he would be the biggest possible get left on the board.

Yanni Karlaftis, West Lafayette, Ind., 4-star OLB

One other player that the coaching staff has continued to stay in regular contact with is Yanni Karlaftis. The younger brother of Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis, Yanni is another talented linebacker prospect that the staff has been on for some time.

He is open to blazing his own path, with Wisconsin, Cal and Oregon rounding out his top-4 alongside Purdue, but the draw to stay home is going to be tough to beat. Karlaftis has taking a wait and see approach since backing up his commitment date, but the good start by Purdue makes this feel more and more like he is Purdues to lose.

Likelihood: 15%

Drew has been on the Yanni Karlaftis train to UW for some time now, but I haven’t shared the same amount of optimism. Purdue has always made the most sense in this recruitment, despite his strong interest in Wisconsin. I think that Ratzlaff and Allen are more of a priority for the staff at this time, making the odds of Karlaftis joining the class lower in my opinion.

Make no mistake though if Karlaftis were to call today to make a commitment, the Badgers would probably accept it with how talented he is. The staff seems to be in best available mode, making him still a realistic possibility.