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Wisconsin football: 2022 recruiting class outlook

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We take a look at what the Badgers’ 2022 recruiting class could look like.

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

Now that all of the hooplah and ballyhoo of National Signing Day has come and gone and we’re onto the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, let’s take a peek into the future to see what the 2022 recruiting class could look like for the Wisconsin Badgers.

In-State Talent

The state of Wisconsin has had a nice little run of producing talent and 2022 is no exception. While having lost the best player of the bunch, Braelon Allen, to the 2021 class, there are still five 4-star recruits in the 2022 class in-state and would you look at that? Four of them are line of scrimmage players: Whitefish Bay’s Joe Brunner, St. Croix Central’s (Hammond) Carson Hinzman, St. Mary’s Springs’ (Fond du Lac) Billy Schrauth, and Sun Prairie’s Isaac Hamm.

While the prior three are all offensive linemen, Hamm is a defensive lineman. The other 4-star recruit in state is Milwaukee King’s Jerry Cross, who is already committed to Penn State as a wide receiver/tight end hybrid athlete.

I fully expect Wisconsin to land these four remaining prospects. Brunner (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) is currently ranked No. 52 in the country per 247 and has been offered by LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon and a bevy of others. Hinzman (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) is currently ranked No. 112 in the country, and has been offered by Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee and others. Given the amount of offensive linemen Wisconsin has brought in over the past few seasons, I’d assume they’ll take these two as the only offensive linemen of the class.

Defensively, two other big dogs exist within state lines. Schrauth (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) is rated No. 152 in the country as an OT by 247 and has been offered by Michigan, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and a group of others. He projects very well into Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense, as does Isaac Hamm. Hamm, rated No. 237 in the country has been offered by Notre Dame and about every program in the Big Ten that matters outside of Michigan which,,,.

Outside of those big names, the name to keep an eye on is Myles Burkett. The 6-foot-1 and 185 pound signal caller out of Franklin High School is looking to become the first in-state scholarship QB for the Badgers since Tyler Donovan (Arrowhead) in 2003. Burkett is currently offered by Central Michigan and Northern Illinois, but could be the Badgers’ target at QB, as the only two players at the position they’ve offered have committed to other schools.

Positions of Need

This is a bit of an interesting topic to tackle, as is the case in recruiting, these topics can be fluid and depending on if any players come back after this “free” year of eligibility due to Covid, but at first glance, there are a few positions where the Badgers could use some extra bodies more than others:

Safety - After a few years without major additions, the Badgers could suddenly find themselves with only one returning player with a start at the position after losing Eric Burrell, Madison Cone, Collin Wilder (editor’s note: Wilder has mentioned that he’s planning on coming back next year, but nothing has been finalized), and depending on the future of Reggie Pearson. Hunter Wohler and Braelon Allen are coming in from the 2021 class, but I would expect another class with multiple safeties in order to keep numbers up at the position.

Defensive Line - Not as much the defensive end spots, as over the past few seasons names like Rodas Johnson, James Thompson Jr., Cade McDonald and Mike Jarvis have been brought in, but nose tackle is the more concerning spot in my opinion. There should be no doubts in the abilities of Keeanu Benton or Bryson Williams, but only having two true nose tackles in a 3-4 defense isn’t ideal, unless I’m an idiot, a legitimate possibility. Look for a nose or two to get brought in.

Wide Receiver - Tell me if you’ve heard this before, but Wisconsin could use some more contributors at the receiver position. There is a legitimate possibility that Wisconsin loses Kendric Pryor, Danny Davis III, Jack Dunn and Adam Krumholz after this season, while also having lost Emmet Perry, and moving forward with Cade Green, A.J. Abbott, and Taj Mustapha who have provided little reason to feel confident with the position moving into 2021. Wisconsin needs to continue adding bodies at the position until it’s fixed.

Imperative Pieces in this Class

A big time running back. Wisconsin has been fairly aggressive with offers thus far in this class, with multiple potential options that would provide some legitimate fanfare moving forward if they’re able to land one (or multiple??) of them.

Early contributor at wide receiver. In 2017, Wisconsin’s top four wide receivers were sophomores Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor, and freshmen Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis. I don’t think I need to spend much time on selling you on the concept of Wisconsin being able to replicate this scenario.

Difference maker nose tackle. I know, I know. It’s a passing league. In the Big Ten, as much as the libs want to turn football into glorified pass skeleton against air, the game always comes down to being able to stop the run and running the football. Wisconsin will always put itself in the right positions to be successful because of this, and strong run defense in the 3-4 is all about nasty nose tackles and freak show inside linebackers. Wisconsin has both, would be wise to keep it that way.