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Wisconsin football recruiting: Build-A-Badger ‘22

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Matt and Drew take a way-too-early stab at how the 2022 football class will look come the Early Signing Day nearly a full year away.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Kent State at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers have elevated their recruiting profile over the past three classes, culminating in a top-20 class in 2021, their highest team recruiting ranking in program history.

Last season, we at B5Q sat down monthly and hypothesized which players we thought would sign with the Badgers in an effort to give a status update on the overall outlook for the class with our Build-A-Badger series.

This year we plan to do it all again, with our Build-A-Badger ‘22. While 2022 prospects will not be able to sign their letter of intent for nearly a full year, it is never too early for us to talk recruiting.


Class Size

It is fairly tough to project the exact number of players that the Badgers will look to sign in the 2022 class given uncertainty around how COVID-19 waivers and scholarship allotment thresholds will shake out at the NCAA level.

As things stand, Wisconsin is slated to have 15 scholarship seniors that in a normal cycle would on track to exhaust their eligibility (this does not include seniors like Collin Wilder and Kendric Pryor who opted to return for a final season). Like previously mentioned though, the eligibility status of players is very much fluid based on the pandemic.

Over the past five recruiting classes the number of signees as been fairly consistent however:

2017: 18 signees

2018: 20 signees

2019: 19 signees

2020: 20 signees

2021: 21 signees

So with that in mind, a good range to start with for this exercise is somewhere between 18 and 20 prospects, with the caveat that the number could be much lower depending on how things shake out at the NCAA level and in the UW Athletic Department.

With the logistics out of the way, here is a position-by-position look at who Drew and Matt see as potential players to watch in the 2022 class at this time.


Quarterback (1)

Myles Burkett

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Quarterback 6-foot-2 205 pounds Franklin, Wisconsin Three-star; .8300; No. 43 QB

Matt’s Take: The Badgers were the perceived favorite for Devin Brown before he earned an offer from USC and jumped on the opportunity quickly. With no offers currently out to uncommitted quarterback prospects in the 2022 class it is anybody's guess where Jon Budmayr will turn to for his signal caller. Budmayr traditionally relies heavily on in-person evaluations before offering, something that the pandemic has made virtually impossible.

While there are some other players such as Donovan Leary that could earn an offer this spring, Myles Burkett is an in-state option that has steadily received interest from the staff. He has a trio of MAC offers right now, but he is a kid that would likely jump on a Wisconsin offer right away, giving Budmayr some flexibility to thoroughly evaluate some other options before extending a offer to Burkett. Regardless of which way this unfolds, Wisconsin will probably look to bring in at least one quarterback and will need to send out some more offers this spring.

Drew’s Take: It’s a real bummer that Brown chose Southern Cal over Wisconsin because it appeared that he was a strong Wisconsin lean for a while. Burkett, who I don’t want to classify as a backup option but..., probably won’t get an offer until Budmayr and Chryst get a look at any of the other top players on their list.

That being said, Burkett wouldn’t be some “consolation prize” and it would be nice to see the Badgers get a signal caller from in-state.


Running back (1)

Jordan McDonald

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Running back 6-foot 215 pounds Alpharetta, Georgia Three-star; .8689; No. 43 RB

Matt’s Take: The Badgers took three scholarship running backs in the 2021 cycle, so I think they will be a big more selective with offers going forward in 2022. John Settle sent out early offers to eight four-star prospects in the class, and I expect that he waits to see how things develop with those primary targets before looking elsewhere. Wisconsin could really use a high caliber back in this class though, but as things stand I don’t think the Badgers are in a great spot for any of the currently offered players. Because of that, I will go off the grid a bit and guess three-star Jordan McDonald out of Georgia. He’s a bigger back that is explosive and has an ever growing recruitment that consists of a lot of Big Ten academic schools. Settle has ties to the region, and McDonald would be a solid addition.

Drew’s Take: The Badgers will surely take a RB in this class and they are going after a lot of talented ones currently. However, I will discuss who I think Wisconsin eventually brings in down in the ATH section of this post. As Matt mentions, the Badgers aren’t in a great spot with any of the 4-star RBs they’ve offered so far, but that could change once on campus visits are allowed again.


Wide receiver (1-3)

Reggie Fleurima

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Wide receiver 6-foot-2 200 pounds Naperville, Illinois Four-star; .9204; No. 26 WR

Omar Cooper

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Wide receiver 6-foot-1 170 pounds Indianapolis, Indiana Four-star; .9167; No. 30 WR

Darrius Clemons

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Wide receiver 6-foot-3 195 pounds Portland, Ore. 4-star; .9463; No. 17 WR

Matt’s Take: Badgers could realistically take up to three wide receivers in the 2022 class, but I think the magic number is two. Alvis Whitted did a really good job to land Skyler Bell and Markus Allen in the last cycle, so it will be interesting to see what he can do with a full year to develop relationships. Like quarterback, I believe more offers will need to go out at wide receiver, but the Badgers are in on some high level talent.

Speaking of new offers, I think Reggie Fleurima is a player that the staff would be wise to offer in the coming months, and would be a great addition to the receiving room, so I will add him here. To round out the class I think that Omar Cooper is a four-star kid that Wisconsin is currently in a good spot for, but his offer list will also probably grow in the coming months as well.

If Whitted could manage to pull off this group the Badgers need to pay him whatever he wants, but he has definitely been impressive on the recruiting trail during his limited time at Wisconsin. Playing time will be potentially available to any wide receiver who comes in so I will go aggressive with this duo.

Drew’s Take: Clemons is an interesting prospect because he is extremely talented, from nowhere near Wisconsin’s normal recruiting footprint and already has a good relationship with S Braelon Allen, a member of the 2021 recruiting class.

There is a .0001% chance (maybe lower) that all three of these guys come to Wisconsin, but if Whitted and the Badgers can pull one 4-star WR out of their hat I would throw a danged parade. If I had to pick two, I’d go Clemons and Fleurima.


Tight end (1-2)

Micah Riley

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Tight end 6-foot-5 228 pounds Bellevue, Nebraska Three-star; .8900; No. 15 TE

Andrew Keller

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Tight end 6-foot-6 210 pounds Waunakee, Wisconsin Unranked

Matt’s Take: I think if the Badgers were to land Micah Riley, their top target at the position, they could potentially get away with only taking one tight end. After only taking one last season, two makes a ton of sense in 2022 though. Riley is a player that is great friends with Chucky Hepburn, and is high on the Badgers among other schools. He is going to be a tough get, but Wisconsin is in a good spot for him early.

For the second tight end I am going to take a guess and say Andrew Keller. After a big sophomore season, how he performs this spring and where he is at weight wise will probably determine if he earns an offer from the Badgers. He is also a good basketball player, and Wisconsin has recruited Waunakee kids a lot.

Drew’s Take: While I have no inside information on this, I think there is a chance that 4-star TE Jerry Cross (Milwaukee) flips his commitment from Penn State to Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions already have a higher rated TE commit in the ‘22 class and Cross might turn his eyes back towards home.

Riley would be a great fit for the Badgers and having one of his buddies on the basketball team already definitely doesn’t hurt. He might prove tough to get out of Nebraska as the Huskers are high on him too, but if Wisconsin can get him on campus things may sway UW’s way.


Offensive line (2-3)

Joe Brunner

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Offensive tackle 6-foot-5 265 pounds Milwaukee, Wisconsin Four-star; .9784; No. 5 OT

Carson Hinzman

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Offensive guard 6-foot-4 280 pounds Hammond, Wisconsin Four-star; .9526; No. 4 OG

Billy Schrauth

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Offensive tackle 6-foot-5 285 pounds Fond du Lac, Wisconsin Four-star; .9388; No. 19 OT

Matt’s Take: I think the Badgers have a good shot at bringing in all three in-state four-star offensive lineman. Groups like this don’t come around inside the state very often, so it would be absolutely huge if Joe Rudolph made a clean sweep.

Hinzman and Brunner are probably more likely and this juncture, but Billy Schrauth is another kid that the staff has invested a ton of time on. Schrauth is set to visit all of his finalists this spring before making a decision, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his recruitment follows a similar path to Tyler Beach. Right now Notre Dame has a lot of buzz, but Schrauth is a no nonsense kid that could easily choose to stay home after visiting.

All three players are a ways away from making a decision, but right now I’ll guess that all three stay within the state. If Schrauth or one of the other in-state guys goes elsewhere, I think that staff could probably stick with only taking two offensive lineman, and still be ecstatic.

Drew’s Take: This is a historic in-state recruiting class for offensive linemen, even by Wisconsin’s lofty standards. If all three of these guys picked Wisconsin I’d be elated. Hell, if only two of them pick UW it should still be counted as a huge win. The Badgers will certainly be shooting for the hat trick here as they haven’t even offered another o-lineman in the class.


Defensive line (2-4)

Isaac Hamm

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Strong-side defensive end 6-foot-5 260 pounds Sun Prairie, Wisconsin Four-star; .9143; No. 13 SDE

Barrett Nelson

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Offensive tackle 6-foot-6 260 pounds Stoughton, Wisconsin Three-star; .8405; No. 109 OT

Hunter Deyo

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Defensive tackle 6-foot-3 270 pounds Council Bluffs, Iowa 4-star; .9073; No. 23 DT

Matt’s Take: If the Badgers land Billy Schrauth he could potentially play along the defensive line as well, and frankly might have a higher ceiling there.

Another in-state stud, Isaac Hamm might be the most important player for the Badgers to land from the state though. A freak athlete with plus size, he is the top target for the Badgers along the defensive line. Wisconsin is in a really good spot for him, and it may just be a matter of time before he is able to visit and pick the Badgers.

While Hamm is the top priority recruit, bringing in a true nose tackle would be pretty nice. With Keeanu Benton and Bryson Williams currently on the roster there is plenty of talent, but having a young player to groom for that all important position in the 3-4 would be great for depth. I think that there will need to be more offers out before Wisconsin gets one unless Schrauth commits and winds up playing nose, or the Badgers can steal Hunter Deyo out of Iowa. Deyo is the most likely nose prospect that currently holds an offer, so let's roll the dice and say he spurns the Hawkeyes.

For the sake of making an educated guess, I will go with in-state lineman Barrett Nelson to earn an offer and come in along the defensive line with Hamm. I think with it being so much harder to make player evaluations across the country, a team like Wisconsin could rely heavily on their local connections for defensive lineman with Barrett Nelson in their own backyard. Nelson is the younger brother of Jack Nelson, and has a really nice frame to help the Badgers out on either side of the line.

Drew’s Take: He has an excellent last name and is an excellent player as well, so I hope that Hamm stays close to home and picks the Badgers.

As Belz mentioned above, getting a true NT in this class is paramount. Deyo is another top prospect out of Iowa that hopefully the Badgers can sneak in and steal out of the state. He’s got the right frame to add weight and the ability to take on multiple blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays. I’m hoping that the Badgers shoot for the stars and get both Deyo and Hamm, although Nelson isn’t a terrible consolation prize if one of the top two prospects heads elsewhere.


Outside linebacker (1-2)

Sebastian Cheeks

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Outside linebacker 6-foot-2 210 pounds Evanston, Illinois Four-star; .9401; No. 14 OLB

Jared Badie

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Outside linebacker 6-foot-5 212 pounds Oswego, Illinois Three-star; .8427; No. 45 OLB

Matt’s Take: Wisconsin is one of the top contenders for Sebastian Cheeks, and if the Badgers are able to lock him up that might do it at outside linebacker after stockpiling guys the past two classes. Cheeks is a really athletic ‘backer who could possibly play inside or on the edge, but right now he is being recruited as an outside linebacker. His offer list will probably continue to improve, but Wisconsin is one his favorites early.

Popeye Williams is another high profile recruit to keep an eye on, but I think that the Badgers are in a better spot for Cheeks right now. I think an offer could eventually go out to Jared Badie after Illinois football kicks back up this spring, and Wisconsin would probably be in the thick of things for him as well. I’ll guess Cheeks and Badie for now.

Drew’s Take: Cheeks seems like he may be down to Wisconsin and Notre Dame as a final choice and I hope the Badgers can win this battle because he is the exact type of player who can rush the passer from either linebacker position.

Along with the ILB spot, the Badgers can be pretty choosy here as they’ve stockpiled some young talent at this position. I really like Williams’ tape and I hope the Badgers are able to stay in the race for him, but Matt is right that Cheeks is the more likely option.


Inside linebacker (0-2)

????????

Matt’s Take: Realistically, I think the Badgers will once again bring in another inside linebacker in this class despite loading up the past two cycles. Right now though there is only one confirmed offer out there, and Dishawn Misa seems destined to stay out west. For that reason, I think it is more likely that the staff brings in two outside linebackers like Cheeks (who could play inside as well potentially) and Badie who has a frame that could support defensive end or outside linebacker. Wisconsin has a lot of young bodies at inside linebacker, and would be far better off allocating extra scholarships to say wide receiver, the secondary, and the defensive line in my opinion.

Drew’s Take: Jayden Montgomery?!?!? I don’t even know, man.

Right now with the log jam of young players at ILB, and both Leo Chenal and Jack Sanborn returning in 2021, this may be the year the Badgers don’t take anyone at ILB. We’ll see how things shake out here, but UW might be better served using the scholarship elsewhere.


Cornerback (1-2)

Avery Powell

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Cornerback 5-foot-10 170 pounds Jersey City, NJ Three-star; .8697; No. 60 CB

James Monds III

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Cornerback 5-foot-10 170 pounds Fort Pierce, Fla. 3-star; .8527; No. 58 CB

Matt’s Take: I think Wisconsin is good shape for Avery Powell. Jim Leonhard has been after him hard, and Saeed Khalif’s connections in Jersey could once again pay dividends in this recruitment. I think Wisconsin could get away with taking one scholarship cornerback in this class if it is either Powell or James Monds. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Badgers try to squeeze in Deven Magli out of Deforest with a grayshirt offer in order to bring him in, but not hurt their scholarship numbers in what I’m assuming will be a tight crunch in 2022. Magli is a talented in-state option that recorded 10 interceptions as a sophomore, has solid speed, and would probably jump at a grayshirt opportunity.

Drew’s Take: It should be noted that our very own J.J. Post went to the same high school as Powell so I think that gives the Badgers an inside edge in his recruitment. I’d also like the Badgers to continue recruiting 4-star Keenan Nelson, Jr. (Philadelphia, Pa.) who is the total package at corner. Teams like Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Penn State and Notre Dame are also high on Nelson so he won’t be an easy pull for Jim Leonhard, but if Wisconsin is already going to be in the area recruiting Powell...I’m just saying.


Safety (1-2)

Jaydon Hodge

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Safety 6-foot 170 pounds Ocala, FL Three-star; .8477; No. 35 S

Xavier Nwankpa

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Safety 6-foot-2 190 pounds Des Moines, Iowa 4-star; .9680; No. 7 S

Matt’s Take: I know Drew is going to shoot for the starts with Xavier Nwankpa, but I think that is an extreme long shot. I will play it a little safer and go with Jaydon Hodge. Wisconsin has yet to offer Hodge, but he is one of Jim Leonhard’s top targets at the position and I think the Badgers will have a good shot if an offer does occur this spring. Christian Driver has always said all the right things about the potential to come back to Wisconsin, but once again that is going to be a really tough pull given his offer list. I think UW needs to bring at least one safety in this class, and for now I will guess Hodge.

Drew’s Take: WHAT’S THE POINT OF NOT SHOOTING FOR THE STARS?!?! Nwankpa is such an intriguing talent and I’m hoping that having Hunter Wohler and Braelon Allen on the team is going to be one of those “talent wants to join talent” situations.

But, uh, yeah, it’ll be difficult to pull Nwankpa as both Iowa schools are in heavy on him and then basically all the national brands are too. LSU, Clemson, Ohio State are all involved and this would be a HUGE win for Leonhard and the Badgers. Fingers crossed, baby!


Specialists/Athletes (1)

Dillon Tatum

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Athlete 5-foot-11 190 pounds West Bloomfield, Mich. 4-star; .9101; No. 12 ATH

Matt’s Take: Wisconsin tends to be fairly reluctant to use scholarships for specialists. If the Badgers are able to land Teagen Lenderink at kicker in the 2021 class using a preferred walk-on spot, I think that the Badgers might solely look to bring in a long snapper and punter as walk-ons as well. If Lenderink does not come, Wisconsin could get aggressive and float a scholarship offer for a kicker with Collin Larsh getting closer to exhausting his eligibility.

Drew’s Take: Wisconsin will probably try and add a long snapper as a preferred walk-on for 2022, but otherwise I have no idea how UW does special teams recruiting.

If you’ve ever played NCAA 14 with me, you know that I’m easily enamored with players listed as “ATH” and the same goes for my in real life recruiting strategies. I think Tatum is an extremely intriguing piece that could bring a lot to the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers recently made his cutdown top-ten list so there is clearly mutual interest here. Wisconsin also has recruited his high school well recently.

Tatum can play running back but he’s also able to catch the ball out of the backfield, so splitting him out wide wouldn’t be a crazy idea either. While he isn’t very tall, he could play in the slot and also be used on jet sweeps and things of that nature.


Overall Class

Overall 2022 Class Vol. 1

Matt's Class Drew's Class
Matt's Class Drew's Class
QB (1): Myles Burkett QB (1): Myles Burkett
RB (1): Jordan McDonald RB (0):
WR (2): Omar Cooper, Reggie Fleurima WR (2): Reggie Fleurima, Darrius Clemons
TE (2): Micah Riley, Andrew Keller TE (1): Micah Riley
OL (3): Carson Hinzman, Billy Schrauth, Joe Brunner OL (3): Carson Hinzman, Billy Schrauth, Joe Brunner
DL (2): Isaac Hamm, Barrett Nelson DL (2): Isaac Hamm, Hunter Deyo
OLB (2): Sebastian Cheeks, Jared Badie OLB (2): Sebastian Cheeks, Popeye Williams
ILB (0): ILB (0):
CB (2): Avery Powell, James Monds III CB (2): Avery Powell, Monds or Keenan Nelson, Jr.
S (1): Jaylon Hodge S (1): Xavier Nwankpa
ATH (0): ATH (1): Dillon Tatum
16 total commits 16 total commits

Matt’s Take: Given how early it is in the 2022 recruiting calendar, fans should not get too caught up with current rankings. There has never been a recruiting class like 2022 before in that some students completely lost their junior film, or are kicking off this spring. Without gameday visits, camps, in-person evaluations, this class will probably be very different than previous groups, and therefore teams like Wisconsin have been much more conservative with their offers so far.

Wisconsin does not have a commit yet after Braelon Allen reclassified, but this is a rough guess what the class could look like.

Personally, I went with a bit smaller class (16) than the Badgers have traditionally signed under Paul Chryst given the uncertainty around how scholarship allotments and eligibility will look over the next few seasons. Deven Magli coming in as a gray shirt would push my projection up to 17 with room to add a player or two more if the opportunity presents itself, but I expect Wisconsin will also be active in the transfer portal this off-season too. I still think that the class could hit that 18-20 mark, but when you look at how few offers are currently out, it is hard to envision what the board will even look like come this spring.

Drew’s Take: When Matt and I started this series of posts for the 2021 class there were already a handful of commits and a number of other players that were strongly considering UW, which made it a lot easier. For the 2022 class we are pretty much flying blind and it took us a LONG time to put this list together.

While Wisconsin doesn’t have a commit yet for the class there is no need to panic yet. While Ohio State and Penn State are out to a hot start, only nine of 14 Big Ten teams have a commit and Iowa and Minnesota only have one. Hopefully this spring/summer on-campus visits will be allowed because that is where UW has often had a lot of success sealing the deal.

We will update this post in a month or so and maybe we’ll have some more concrete news on who the Badgers are targeting!