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Wisconsin football recruiting: 2021 Build-A-Badger recap

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Now that the Early Signing Period is complete, Matt and Drew take a look back at how they did in their Build-a-Badger series.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Last week the Wisconsin Badgers football team inked their best recruiting class in the rankings era. The group of 21 scholarship players from all across the country is held in high regard, landing the Badgers inside the top-20 class rankings of both Rivals and 247Sports recruiting services.

Back in February and March, we at B5Q started up our Build-A-Badger series where Drew and I made our best guesses on a monthly basis as to which prospects would end up signing with the Badgers. Now with the 2021 Early Signing Day completed, we thought it would be fun to look back and see how we did before unveiling our first attempt at the 2022 class in the next two weeks.

Here is a position-by-position look at how we did based on our guesses from last spring.

Quarterback

Correct Signees: Deacon Hill

Missed Signees: None

Other players projected: None

Hit Rate: 100%

With Deacon Hill already firmly committed at the time Drew and I both correctly guessed this one. A late offer by childhood favorite UCLA wasn’t enough to sway Hill away from the Badgers.

Running back

Correct Signees: Jackson Acker, Loyal Crawford

Missed Signees: Antwan Roberts

Other players projected: None

Hit Rate: 66%

With Jackson Acker and Loyal Crawford already committed at the time of our first episode of the series, we both assumed that the staff would be done at the running back position. Drew however did point out in March, a month before Roberts joined the class, that he was a possibility...

One would assume that the Badgers are done in the backfield since they got these two, early, in-state commitments, but Antwan Roberts (Hendersonville, Tenn.) is a player to watch.

Who knows how mutual the interest is there, but he’s a 3-star talent with a beatable offer list and if the Badgers have a spot open...why not?

Brownie points to Drew on that one.

Wide receiver

Correct Signees: Skyler Bell, Markus Allen

Missed Signees: None

Other players projected: Jaylin Noel (Iowa State), J. Michael Sturdivant (Cal), Kaden Dudley (Boise State)

Hit Rate: 100%, or 40% if you factor in the three other names.

After Alvis Whitted came on board in the spring, it was pretty hard to get a firm grasp of where the Badgers were going to get their wide receivers in the 2021 class. But Drew and I remarkably each managed to correctly project one of the pass catchers. In episode one, I randomly threw out Skyler Bell’s name, and Drew correctly guessed Markus Allen in March. Now, we did think that the Badgers would be taking three receivers in the class, and missed on three other players, but overall not too shabby.

Tight end

Correct Signees: Jack Pugh

Missed Signees: None

Other players projected: None

Hit Rate: 100%

Drew and I were in agreement on Jack Pugh, and the Badgers were able to land their top of the board tight end prospect a few months later.

Offensive line

Correct Signees: JP Benzschawel, Riley Mahlman, Nolan Rucci

Missed Signees: None

Other players projected: None

Hit Rate: 100%

With Benzschawel and Mahlman already committed at the time, they made things easy for us. Drew and I disagreed on the topic of Nolan Rucci for the first few episodes though. I had high confidence that Nolan Rucci would end up a Badger, while Drew had his reservations. In the end, Wisconsin won out of Penn State and others.

Defensive line

Correct Signees: None

Missed Signees: Mike Jarvis

Other players projected: Hayden Nelson (UCLA), Arden Walker (Missouri)

Hit Rate: 0%

Now to be fair here, we did project Darryl Peterson here in the first episode, who did sign with Wisconsin, but overall we missed out along the defensive line. Mike Jarvis was a guy that the staff was high on for a while, but we completely whiffed on him.

Outside linebacker

Correct Signees: Ayo Adebogun, Darryl Peterson, TJ Bollers

Missed Signees: None

Other players projected: Yanni Karlaftis (Purdue)

Hit Rate: 100%, or 75% if you factor in Yanni Karlaftis.

Drew and I were on the Darryl Peterson and TJ Bollers to UW train from the jump, and it paid off. All three outside linebackers were on our list, so in general we did great. Drew’s love affair with Yanni Karlaftis never materialized (Editor’s note: crying emoji), but part of that could have been the addition of Jake Ratzlaff instead.

Inside linebacker

Correct Signees: Bryan Sanborn

Missed Signees: Jake Chaney, Jake Ratzlaff

Other players projected: Kobe King (Penn State), Damon Ollison (Toledo)

Hit Rate: 33%, or 20% with King and Ollison also included.

Bryan Sanborn was already committed at the time of the first episode, so we don’t deserve any credit on that selection. Chaney was a surprise get before the second episode dropped in March, while Ratzlaff was the last player to join the class before signing day after flipping his commitment from Minnesota’s hockey program. Not our best effort, but I don’t think anyone expected Jake Chaney to commit when he did.

Cornerback

Correct Signees: None

Missed Signees: Ricardo Hallman, Al Ashford III

Other players projected: Robert Regan (ASU), Kalen King (Penn State), Tyson Russell (Vanderbilt)

Hit Rate: 0%

We completely whiffed at cornerback. Ricardo Hallman didn’t make an appearance on our list until later in the spring, and I don’t think anyone predicted Al Ashford in this class given the fact that he didn’t even share out his offer from the Badgers. Robert Regan was a player that all signs pointed towards UW until the end when he opted to play closer to home. Once again, we did not connect on any of the players.

Safety

Correct Signees: Hunter Wohler

Missed Signees: Braelon Allen

Other players projected: Armorion Smith (Cincinnati), Zaequan Gilliespy (uncommitted)

Hit Rate: 50%, or 25% if Smith and Gilliespy are also included.

Wohler was another player that was previously committed, and therefore his inclusion is nothing for us to be proud of. Braelon Allen was a player that reclassified into the 2021 class, so no one could have seen that coming as well. The tale of Zaequan Gilliespy is still unwritten, and we REALLY missed on that one. But then again, he was the only non-committed offer that the staff had out at the time.

Overall, we had 14 of the 21 commits listed in February/March, not too shabby. The Wisconsin staff did a really good job of landing some of their top targets, and making us look somewhat knowledgeable.

Keep an eye out for our first episode for the 2022 class in the coming weeks, as Drew and I will once again set out to guess how the class will fill out way too early in the calendar.