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Wisconsin football recruiting: a pair of UW commits earn Mr. Football awards

Jake Ratzlaff (Minnesota) and Nolan Rucci (Pennsylvania) were named the top players in their respective states for 2021.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting is the lifeblood of any major college athletics team, but following it closely as a fan can sometimes be difficult and can often be time consuming. We’ll try and condense all the recruiting news you can use into this bi-weekly (sometimes more) post. It’ll include updates on current commits, including stats from their high school games, as well as news on players the Badgers are still pursuing. Let’s get down to business!

Yay! Awards!

  • 2021 commits 3-star OLB Jake Ratzlaff (Rosemount, Minn.) and 5-star OT Nolan Rucci (Lititz, Pa.) were named Mr. Football for their respective states over the past week.

Per the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s High School Football Hub, Ratzlaff had 70 tackles, 5½ tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries this past season while helping the Irish to an undefeated 6-0 record. He also blocked three punts and scored three touchdowns on offense as a tight end.

Ratzlaff was also named the 2020 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year and Associated Press Player of the Year. Originally committed to Minnesota for hockey, the pull of football, which Ratzlaff has repeatedly said was his first love, was too strong and once he went undrafted in the NHL Draft it solidified his choice of pursuing football.

“I have never seen one player impact a game in so many different ways,” Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann said in a news release from the MFCA (Minnesota Football Coaches Association). “He could start for us at any position offensively or defensively. He could have been our starting QB, offensive tackle or even nose guard because of his athleticism, aggressiveness, and style of play.”

The crown jewel of Wisconsin’s 2021 class, Rucci was named Mr. PA Football Lineman of the Year award for Class 4-6A on Monday. He was the winner among a talented group of finalists that included commits to Penn State, Rutgers and Charlotte.

Rucci, who was the No. 5 OT in the 2021 class and the No. 15 player in the nation, is one of the most talented recruits to ever choose Wisconsin. He joins his brother, tight end Hayden, in Madison and could push for a spot on the two-deep as a true freshman.