The Wisconsin Badgers have a big day tomorrow, even if it doesn’t include getting ready to beat the pants off of *checks*, Northwestern on Saturday.
Wisconsin, along with Clemson, Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame will await the decision of 5-star offensive tackle recruit, Nolan Rucci, on Tuesday night.
Aside from Wisconsin potentially nabbing another good offensive line recruit, this could have big time ramifications for the Badgers moving forward. Obviously, Rucci joining his brother in the cardinal and white is an appealing scenario, but there are other variables at play here.
Wisconsin’s recruiting reputation
Discounting the impact having his older brother on the roster has made throughout the five star’s recruiting process would be a fool’s errand, however there’s something to be said about Wisconsin’s ability to not lose that advantage.
Wisconsin, for a long time, has been viewed as an extremely safe option, in a lot of respects. Safe bet to win nine games a season. Safe bet to grab a good offensive lineman. Safe bet to have a really good running back. But now? They’re beginning to push the boundaries of “safe” and entering the realm of being “good”. The Badgers are starting to position themselves as legitimate threats to top recruits, when they choose to target them.
Riding the wave of a hot-streak of in-state recruiting options, Paul Chryst and staff have done a great job of positioning themselves with “gettable top targets” to supplement their normal mix of Wisconsin-like recruits. They’re always going to recruit well in-state, but they’re starting to get their guys from elsewhere. Part of that is Wisconsin being smart with who they target, but part of that as well is how Wisconsin is perceived nationally to non-familiar/non-fan recruits.
As a current college football coach, rest assured when I tell you that social media has changed the entire dynamic of recruiting I am speaking from experience. Not only is there an easier way for players and coaches to connect in the recruiting process, but the influence of recruits to other recruits has never been more prevalent or visible. Case in point: the “Super Six” 2022 in-state recruits had a group chat amongt themselves. While one of them has joined (4-star safety Braelon Allen) and one has gone elsewhere (4-star tight end Jerry Cross to Penn State), the other four are all at least as of this time expected to be Wisconsin leans. Who do you think is leading that campaign? Allen has already been visible recruiting on Twitter, which I only expect to see continue.
Kids across the country can now see where recruits are committing. ANOTHER five star tackle headed to Wisconsin? You think that doesn’t appeal to quarterbacks or running backs? Now, that’s not to say there’s going to be some drastic uptick in recruiting, but over time, the effect of these kids (Graham Mertz, Logan Brown, Nolan Rucci???) committing to the Badgers as high profile recruits makes an impact on other kids.
Who do you think are most influenced by their peer’s decision making? Peer pressure is undefeated.
A log jam at offensive tackle?
While the last thing that I want to do is speculate too far into the future (who has time for that?), it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that six (seven on Tuesday night?) 4-star or higher rated offensive tackles are now on the team/committed through 2021. 2019 had Logan Brown and Joe Tippmann, who has since been moved to center. 2020 had Jack Nelson and Trey Wedig, and 2021 currently has JP Benzschawel and Riley Mahlman, along with Rucci potentially.
The fact of the matter is this: someone’s gonna move. These kids wanna get on the field, and unfortunately, social norms have prevented playing five tackles at the same time (Editor’s note: SMH @ society). An educated guess could see Jack Nelson potentially moving inside, as I don’t think they’ll force 6-foot-8 and 320 pound Wedig inside. It could also be a tough task moving 6-foot-8 Mahlman or the 6-foot-8 Rucci inside. Just something to keep tabs on moving forward.
At the end of the day, this is just a teenager deciding where he wants to go to college. Please keep that in mind if this article ages poorly in about 25-27 hours.
Don’t tweet at recruits. Don’t get mad a teenager didn’t decide to go to the college whose football team you cheer for.
Thank you for attending my TED talk.