The early signing period has come and pretty much wrapped up for the Badgers as Wisconsin signed all 21 of their commits in this early period. The 2021 class again breaks a record for Wisconsin football as they currently rank No. 16 which is the highest rank in school history. Last year's class broke a record at No. 26, so jumping ten spots to break that record is pretty damn impressive.
Headlining this class is the bread and butter of Wisconsin football, the offensive line. The top of that group is 5-star offensive lineman Nolan Rucci of Warwick, PA. Rucci ranks No. 15 in the county among players and was highly recruited by the likes of Penn State and Clemson. Along with Rucci, the Badgers also nabbed two more four stars, in-state JP Benzschawel and “in-state” Riley Mahlman from Minnesota.
Both possess impressive frames at 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds. This group pairing up with the likes of Trey Wedig and Jack Nelson from the 2020 class and Logan Brown from 2019 will make a competitive line group for years to come.
Proud to welcome the future star of OLU:— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) December 16, 2020
Our man, @NolanRucci!
Epitome of smart, tough, dependable
Why Wisconsin for Nolan?
“To build something great and bring a natty to Madtown.”
#NSD21 » #OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/49Qy8OBuNY
Speaking of bread and butter Wisconsin also went hard at their other key position, running back, taking three players in this class. Two of these players were in-state guys in Loyal Crawford and Jackson Acker. Crawford comes to Wisconsin as a traditional three-down back that can really play in space with his speed. Acker comes in as a running back but could certainly transition to other positions given his brute size and strength. Antwan Roberts is the third player of the group out of Hendersonville, Tenn. A 3-star player, Roberts is another big back that should be a real bruiser for the Badgers down the road.
One position that Wisconsin has improved at over the last few years has been wide receiver and tight end. Last year they landed Chimere Dike who is having a strong year for the Badgers and now they land two more of their highest recruits ever at the position. Markus Allen, a former Michigan commit, found a new home in Madison and should be the stretch the field wideout the Badgers need. Skylar Bell out of the Bronx, N.Y. also brings a strong set of hands and good speed to compliment an uber-talented group of wideouts. At tight end they also brought in a strong player in Jack Pugh out of Hillard, Ohio. His size and strength should give the Badgers a strong in-line blocking option.
The offensive side of the ball has some strong additions, but the group wouldn’t be complete without its signal-caller. 4-star Deacon P’ea Hill also signed his letter of intent today. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds Hill is a great size for a QB and has massive arm strength for a high schooler. As his accuracy continues to improve he could be a really strong asset to the Badgers at the position. As you can see below he’s pretty excited to be a Badger.
It wasn’t all offense for Wisconsin as the Badgers also brought in 11 players on the defensive side of the football. The bulk of the haul was at linebacker where Wisconsin stocked up five very talented players. Jake Ratzlaff of Rosemount, Minn. was the latest player to commit to the group. His athleticism should allow him to be a solid pass rusher with Wisconsin. Daryl Peterson out of Akron, Ohio should bring a similar set of skills to the outside.
Inside the Badgers also stacked up on some players led by in-state talent Braelon Allen. Allen is a 4-star player out of Fond Du Lac who reclassified from the 2022 class to the 2021 class. Allen brings freak strength to the class at such a young age and could play a whole host of positions for Wisconsin. Also inside is Bryan Sanborn who will complete another set of brothers to the UW program. The Watts, Chenals, Benzschawels and Ruccis have all had recent success so I would expect the Sanborn brothers to be no different.
Wrapping up the inside if Jake Chaney out of Lehigh Acres, Fla. Chaney is the next player up in a long line of players to come out of the Wisconsin/Florida pipeline. Chaney has some serious strength as well and is not afraid to lay the wood to opposing ball carriers.
The defensive line also got a nice boost for Wisconsin led by 4-star defensive end T.J. Bollers. Bollers, out of Tiffin, Iowa, stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 250 pounds and could line up with his hand in the dirt at defensive end or at outside linebacker. Ayo Adebogun is another player that could play up or down in the system. Adebogun has a long frame and should only improve after being somewhat raw to the game of football, picking it up the game in high school. Many have compared him to Zack Baun, which would be a welcome comparison.
The last of the three is a more traditional down lineman in Mike Jarvis. Once again the New Jersey to Wisconsin pipeline works out well as Jarvis brings in the size they need at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. With more weight onto him, Jarvis should be a really strong addition to the class.
The class wouldn’t be complete without some defensive backs in the group. Last year the Badgers only brought in one player in Max Lofy, and this year the attention was certainly made. Headlining the group is 4-star safety Hunter Wohler out of Muskego. Wohler is a freak athlete that should be a dynamic safety for Wisconsin. Scouts have raved about his talents for years and thankfully that talent will stay right here in Wisconsin.
The Badgers also picked up two corners to the group. Ricardo Hallman is another player to come from the Florida area. A defensive back from South Florida to Wisconsin? We’ve heard that before. Thankfully for Hallman, it has worked out well in the past and should work out here too. I believe Hallman is one of the very underrated pieces in this class.
Al Ashford III rounds out the group coming to UW from Englewood, Colo. Ashford is a taller corner at 6-foot-1 but he also possesses the speed combo that makes corners so special. These two corners will be something to watch as they develop in Jim Leonhard’s system.
That wraps up a brief breakdown of all 21 players that have signed their letter for this 2021 class. Overall the Badgers landed a strong class with a very good mix. With 11 on defense and 10 on offense Wisconsin found a good balance and hit on every single position. Those are the classes you need to build a program, and it helps that they also rank very highly compared to past classes. It’s an exciting day for the players, coaches, and the program.
Make sure to continue to check out Bucky’s 5th Quarter for more in-depth recruiting news.