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Wisconsin football recruiting: upward trajectory

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A bird’s eye view of the positive vibes present in Wisconsin football recruiting.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Central Michigan at Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the first handful of members from the 2020 class now on campus, and spring practices on the horizon, the coaching staff has swiftly turned their attention to the 2021 class.

With a major junior day slated for this upcoming weekend (March 1), B5Q will be breaking down all of the recruiting action on tap, as the Badgers look to continue a hot streak on the recruiting trail.

In this first of a series of articles looking at the 2021 recruiting class in anticipation of junior day, let’s first look back at the recruiting trends that have dominated the past eight recruiting cycles under both Gary Andersen and, more recently, Paul Chryst.

UW Recruiting Trends (2013-present)

Recruiting Year 247 Ranking Rivals Ranking # of Commits (247/Rivals) Raw Average Star Rating (combined average 247 + Rivals) 247 Average Rating Did not make it to second year on campus (grades, injuries, off the field, etc)
Recruiting Year 247 Ranking Rivals Ranking # of Commits (247/Rivals) Raw Average Star Rating (combined average 247 + Rivals) 247 Average Rating Did not make it to second year on campus (grades, injuries, off the field, etc)
2013 40 53 20/19 2.921* 0.8464 6 players
2014 32 33 26 2.865* 0.8478 6 players
2015 41 42 19 3* 0.855 2 players
2016 35 35 26/25 3.078* 0.8496 4 players
2017 39 35 18 3.083* 0.8582 0 players
2018 46 40 20 3.05* 0.8648 1 player
2019 29 27 19 3.211* 0.8786 2 players
2020 25 27 20 3.225* 0.8782 In progress

After a quick perusal of the past eight signed classes some trends have become apparent, and deserve discussion.

Firstly, Paul Chryst has done a nice job since taking over in 2015 at elevating the talent level of the team.

In the two seasons under Gary Andersen, Wisconsin was unable to eclipse an average star level of three or above. While Andersen and his staff funneled recruiting information through the various services in an effort to give off the optics of improved recruiting, the efforts were lackluster. In comparison, Paul Chryst has exceeded that threshold each season as head coach. In fact, Chryst has seen a fairly steady increase in average star rating, and 247Sports average rating over the course of his time at Wisconsin.

Program stability also stands out while looking at the numbers.

In addition to a lower average star rating, and average rating from 247Sports, there was an unusually high washout rate under Andersen. In his two recruiting cycles there were 12 players who either did not make it to campus, or were gone prior to their second year on campus due to extenuating circumstances. That represented 26% of the commits that Andersen garnered.

In comparison, over the five recruiting classes following Andersen’s departure, Paul Chryst has only had nine such examples of players leaving prior to their second season on the team. Two of the aforementioned nine early exits occurred by players that were holdovers in the 2015 class that had previously committed to Andersen, but did not fit the blueprint that Chryst was looking for (Austin Kafentzis and Andrew James). The nine individuals who did not stay, were approximately 8% of the commits signed by Chryst.

The disparity in the wash out rate not only hints toward program stability, but also the capacity of the staff to evaluate talent. Wisconsin recently has done a tremendous job of recognizing and evaluating talent early, and have shown the ability to then obtain early commitments.

While there are plenty of recruits that outperform their ratings, as well as higher ranked recruits who do not pan out, the ranking system overall is fairly accurate across the country. The more talent that is coming in, the greater the raw athleticism that a developmental school like Wisconsin can utilize. With Paul Chryst continuing to elevate the pedigree of talent, the Badgers are increasing their margin for error on the field, and also closing the recruiting gap between themselves and Penn State and Michigan.

The past two recruiting classes by Chryst are ranked as the top groups in program history in the modern internet recruiting era, pulling in consecutive five-star recruits in the 2019 and 2020 classes. Prior to Logan Brown’s commitment in 2019, the last five-star signed was all the way back in 2007 with Josh Oglesby.

Peering ahead to the 2021 recruiting class, and the Badgers have already received commitments from eight players, almost half of their anticipated class. At this juncture half of the commits are ranked by 247Sports as four-stars — three via the composite — Wisconsin finds themselves ranked among the top-10 classes by both major recruiting services. Nearly a full year remains until National Signing Day, so the Badgers have plenty of room to add additional talent as well.

Overall, Paul Chryst has the program recruiting at a higher clip than recent history, and the future is bright on the recruiting front. This weekend’s junior day is a big opportunity for the staff to continue that momentum.