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Wisconsin football recruiting: Build-A-Badger ‘22, episode two

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After a busy month on the recruiting trail, Matt and Drew update what they think the 2022 class may end up looking like come signing day.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Michigan 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 running it back, with our Build-A-Badger ‘22. While 2022 prospects will not be able to sign their letter of intent for many months, it is never too early for us to talk recruiting. You can check out the first edition of this recurring series below.

With the addition of a commitment, and a bevy of new prospects hearing from Wisconsin since our last write-up, there are plenty of shakeups.

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; .8668; No. 29 QB

Matt’s Take: After missing out on Devin Brown back in the winter, the Badgers handed out an offer to in-state standout Myles Burkett back in late January. The three-star signal caller wasted little time, committing to Paul Chryst on January 30 and locking down the lone expected spot in the class at the position.

Burkett is currently the only commit in the 2022 class, but in our first edition of the Build-A-Badger ‘22 series we are 100% right so far after projecting him back in early January. Burkett has risen in the rankings since his commitment, and has become an active recruiter for the staff. At this point the quarterback position should be all taken care of unless a walk-on emerges this summer or next fall.

Drew’s Take: I like Burkett as a high-upside developmental QB that can redshirt a year to learn the offense. With Graham Mertz locked in as the starter for at least the next two years there is no need to hurry Burkett along. It would also be super cool if an in-state QB was able to succeed again for the Badgers.


Running back (0-1)

Xavier Brown

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Running back 5-foot-11 180 pounds Lexington, Kentucky Three-star; .8525; No. 59 RB

Nicholas Singleton

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Running back 6-foot-0 210 pounds Reading, Pa. Four-star; .9583; No. 5 RB

Matt’s Take: It appears as though the Badgers are going to be extremely picky at running back for this class after bringing in three tailbacks in 2021.

John Settle has sprinkled out nine offers to running backs across the country, but has not been in regular contact with some of the targets. At this point I expect more offers to come out, as Settle continues to scour the nation for the back of his choice. There is still a chance that the Badgers will skip bringing in a running back in the 2022 class, but I think in an offense predicated on the run that would be ill advised.

It’s hard to pinpoint which player Wisconsin is in the best standing for, but for now I will guess Xavier Brown. He is a shifty athlete that could play wide receiver or running back for the Badgers, and he would bring further diversity to the running back room in respect to his playing style. After taking three last year, Brown’s versatility would make a ton of sense with a tight number of scholarships to work with.

Nicholas Singleton still appears to be the primary target, and the Badgers are expected to get an official visit from the four-star ball carrier, but his offer list is expansive and Wisconsin will have their work cut out to land the talented back from Pennsylvania.

Drew’s Take: I don’t think the Badgers need to take a running back in this class after getting three (or two depending on position switching) in the 2021 class and Jalen Berger being a redshirt freshman. That being said, if you ARE going to still be looking at taking a ball carrier in 2022 why not shoot for the stars?

Singleton is an impressive talent that could be a potential game-changer were he to sign with Wisconsin. He has already locked in an official visit to Madison and the Badgers have recent history of going into central Pennsylvania and plucking out blue-chip talent, so why not try again?


Wide receiver (1-3)

Matthew Golden

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Wide receiver 6-foot-1 190 pounds Houston, Texas Three-star; .8859; No. 60 WR

Vinny Anthony

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Wide receiver 6-foot-1 170 pounds Louisville, Kentucky Three-star; .8577; No. 95 WR

Matt’s Take: It’s not hard to envision three wide receivers in this class with so many upperclassmen either on their way out after 2021, or potentially bypassed on the depth chart. For the sake of this exercise I will guess two wide receivers though, with an extra split-type tight end projected instead.

The wide receiver spot has the second highest number of current offers out there with 13, and I think the Badgers will have their shot at a couple of dynamic four-star or high three-star prospects if they play their cards right. As of right now though, I will hypothesize that Matthew Golden and Vinny Anthony wind up as the receivers in this class. While the duo are the two lowest ranked targets according to the 247Sports composite, I think Wisconsin is sitting in a favorable position when looking at their offer lists.

Drew’s Take: The Badgers need to continue bringing bodies in at wide receiver. There have been too many misses at this position whether it be via injury, misevaluation or whatever where they can afford to bring in fewer than two new players at this position.

Vinny Anthony is a reasonable pick and after Matt wrote his section it came out that Anthony will be taking an official visit to Madison ($) in the first week of June. That bodes well for UW as they historically do well in closing out-of-state prospects during the beautiful summer months along Lake Mendota.

Looking over the offer list for the 2022 class and UW seems to be offering tall wideouts almost exclusively. Of the 13 offers, only two are shorter than 6-foot-1 (and they are 6-foot and 5-foot-11 respectively). I’d love for the Badgers to find some 6-foot-4 red zone monster to come in with Anthony but as of now they haven’t offered one. I’m pretty positive that Wisconsin takes two WRs in this class but I don’t think the second one has been offered yet.


Tight end (1-2)

Micah Riley

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Tight end 6-foot-6 235 pounds Bellevue, Nebraska Three-star; .8950; No. 16 TE

Kaden Helms

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Tight end 6-foot-5 220 pounds Bellevue, Nebraska Three-star; .8889; No. 17 TE

Matt’s Take: It will be interesting to see if the Badgers bring in two tight ends in this class after only taking one in 2021. As things stand Micah Riley-Drucker appears to be at the top of the board for Mickey Turner, and his strong ties with Chucky Hepburn, Myles Burkett and some of the 2021 commits make him a very realistic get. He visited over the weekend of March 7, and it sounds as though Wisconsin is one of his top contenders alongside Iowa and others. I think if Riley-Drucker indeed commits he may wind up being the only tight end in the class, but there are plenty of other intriguing options available, including his high school teammate Kaden Helms who projects as either a wide receiver or tight end if Wisconsin opts to bring in another.

Current Boston College commit Jeremiah Franklin is another prospect to keep an eye on as well, but for now I will roll the dice and say that teammates Riley-Drucker and Helms wind up Badgers. Helms is going to be a much tougher pull, but Riley-Drucker and Hepburn could swing things Wisconsin’s way.

In-state tight end Andrew Keller is another intriguing option that could maneuver his way into this class as well if he puts together a great camp with the Badgers this summer (if that is even a possibility due to COVID-19).

Drew’s Take: Not only are Riley-Drucker and Helms two talented tight ends in their own right, they are also teammates who have a classmate (one year older) going to UW to play basketball. This is a dream scenario for them and Wisconsin too. Based on how his visit went and all the other scuttlebutt around the internet, it seems like Riley-Drucker has a strong chance of committing to Wisconsin soonish.

If he does, that might put some pressure on Helms to do the same and then the Badgers would have this position all sewn up with a lethal duo. Hopefully it is that easy but, you know, historically recruiting isn’t that cut and dry.


Offensive line (1-3)

Joe Brunner

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Offensive tackle 6-foot-6 300 pounds Milwaukee, Wisconsin Four-star; .9769; No. 7 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; .9469; No. 5 OG

Matt’s Take: Optimism, at least on my end, has gone down slightly for me regards to the chances that Wisconsin closes on all three top in-state offensive line targets. I think the Badgers will land two of the three, with a third still plausible if they can get the players on campus soon. Of the three (Brunner, Hinzman, and Billy Schrauth), I think Schrauth is going to be tough to keep inside the state at this time, so I will postulate that Hinzman and Brunner stay in-state.

All three players are huge priorities and the Badgers are doing everything they can in their respective recruitments. The strong offensive line recruiting over the past few cycles will make spots tight in this class, but if Wisconsin can last two or three of these players look out. Joe Rudolph would be a very happy man.

Drew’s Take: I think Brunner is pretty close to a lock for UW and I think Schrauth and Hinzman are both wild cards at this point. The only downside to people paying more attention to high school football in Wisconsin is that, well, people are paying more attention to high school football in Wisconsin and thus it becomes more challenging to keep all of the top talent in state.

The Badgers would do well to get two of these three players and right now I’m inclined to agree with Matt that Brunner and Hinzman end up being the guys. Wisconsin doesn’t NEED all three of these guys, I think it’s more of just a pride thing for the staff to keep 4-star OL in Wisconsin.


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; .8975; No. 18 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

Malachi Clark

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Defensive tackle 6-foot-2 280 pounds Roseville, Michigan Three-star; .8277; No. 77 DT

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: In-state defensive end Isaac Hamm is the priority for new defensive line coach Ross Kolodziej, but Wisconsin should also probably take a nose tackle in this class. While Hamm is one of the more likely players from within the state to stay home, Barrett Nelson is a kid that I still think the Badgers find a way to add him into the class. He has size and athleticism that should allow him to play on either side of the ball, and his offer list is just starting to pick up.

In terms of nose tackle, it’s a total crapshoot at this point. The Badgers have allotted 13 of their roughly 70 total scholarships offers to the position. Unfortunately, Wisconsin doesn’t appear to be the front-runner for any of them. I thought that the Badgers had a chance with Kwan Williams after he included Wisconsin in his top schools, but he recently committed to Boston College.

KJ Miles is probably the most realistic player with an offer that is a four-star or higher, but Wisconsin is still playing catch up to Texas A&M, Georgia, and others in his recruitment. In all honesty, I still think chances remain that Wisconsin lands Billy Schrauth and he winds up at NT as well.

Because I believe more offers will come out this spring or summer however, I will guess that Malachi Clark winds up as the tackle in this class. He is a stout player in Michigan that has received interest from Wisconsin, and his offer list is currently very beatable.

Drew’s Take: Nose tackle is an absolute must in this class. I’m still really high on 4-star Hunter Deyo out of Iowa. He only has seven offers so far and appears to be leaning to stay home and play for the Hawkeyes but if the Badgers put the full-court press on him he could change his mind.

Since the Badgers offered back in September, Minnesota, Arkansas and Oregon have also extended scholarship opportunities. The Ducks getting involved is a tad worrisome because they have been recruiting at a high level with Mario Cristobal in charge and I’d imagine they aren’t throwing out too many offers in Council Bluffs, Iowa unless they’re serious about the player.

As far as the rest of the d-line goes, Isaac Hamm should commit once UW is able to get him on campus. It is weird that he has never been even though he lives in Sun Prairie. I’d be happy with getting Deyo and Hamm, but just for depth’s sake there should probably be a third player in there too.


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

Luna Larson

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Outside linebacker 6-foot-2 200 pounds Baraboo, Wisconsin Unranked

Matt’s Take: I still don’t feel super confident in this pick, but Sebastian Cheeks is one of the only linebackers regularly hearing from the Badgers. Wisconsin has been very picky with offers at both inside and outside linebackers, and Cheeks is a really good athlete that could line up at either spot. Notre Dame is always going to be tough to beat for kids from the Chicago suburbs, but Wisconsin is one of his top choices.

Getting Cheeks on campus this spring/summer will be key for the Badgers. I have no intel on when his decision date will be, but summers in Madison can really swing recruitments. Add in the fact that Wisconsin and Notre Dame will go head to head in Soldier Field this fall, and that could prove to be another impactful part of his recruitment if Cheeks waits until the fall to make a decision.

If Joshua Burnham (who also holds an offer from the Badgers) commits to Notre Dame on his birthday — March 17 — that could also help Wisconsin out as well in their pursuit of Cheeks.

In-state linebacker Luna Larson is another possibility after having a huge fall this past year with Baraboo. For now I will add him into the mix, because I think he is the quintessential camp offer that turns into a playmaker for the Badgers down the road after being somewhat overlooked in the state.

Drew’s Take: It was a real bummer when 4-star OLB Tevarua Tafiti (Honolulu) announced his top-eight and didn’t include the Badgers, but he is another player that is high on Notre Dame and I doubt the Irish have room in their class for Tafiti, Burnham AND Cheeks. Hopefully Wisconsin can hold off Notre Dame for long enough and get Cheeks on campus because he would be a perfect fit in Jim Leonhard’s defense.

I don’t know much about this Larson kid outside of what Matt said, but he could be one of those prime “under the radar in-state kids” that comes to Wisconsin and outperforms his star rating once he’s an upperclassman.


Inside linebacker (0-1)

Nobody????

Matt’s Take: Wisconsin only has one offer out to an inside-backer, and I highly doubt that the Badges all of sudden land a top player out of Sammamish, Washington.

Cheeks or Larson are both players that could slide inside as well, but after taking multiple inside ‘backers the past two classes, there just isn’t a need there. Unless a player absolutely blows them away this off-season or next fall, I just don’t see an inside linebacker in this class.

Drew’s Take: Sammamish, Washington doesn’t even sound like a real place. No way the Badgers can get a recruit from a fake town.


Cornerback (1-3)

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

A’Khoury Lyde

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; .8588; No. 67 CB

Caleb Coley

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Cornerback 6-foot-0 180 pounds Warner Robins, Ga. 3-star; .8527; No. 81 CB

Matt’s Take: With new cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat now in the fold, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Badgers get aggressive for cornerbacks given the way that offers have gone out recently. Out of the 12 offers out there, I think that Avery Powell and A’Khoury Lyde are strong possibilities and fit Poteat’s New Jersey footprint. Powell recently included the Badgers in his trimmed list of schools, and Lyde supposedly has a good relationship with Poteat stemming from his time at Toledo.

There are plenty of other possibilities, and I wouldn’t dismiss the chance of a third cornerback coming in this class as well. James Monds, Avyonne Jones (still think he stays closer to Texas), and Caleb Coley are all other realistic prospects to keep an eye on as well. In terms four-star prospects that could push Paul Chryst to bring in a third cornerback, Keenan Nelson Jr. and Ryan Turner would be huge gets that I doubt the staff turns down at any point in the process.

Drew’s Take: I like Powell to be a guy that the Badgers close on but I think that the second CB that the Badgers take is Caleb Coley out of Georgia. While Coley is currently unranked he has offers from Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Wake Forest among a couple of others. He has good size and a beatable offer list and if they can get him up to Madison I think there may be a connection.


Safety (1-2)

Austin Brown

Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Position Height Weight Hometown 247 Composite Ranking
Safety 6-foot-1 195 pounds Johnson City, Illinois Three-star; .8617; No. 43 S

Matt’s Take: The recent offer to Austin Brown added Wisconsin firmly into the mix for his services. At 6-foot-1 and nearly 200 pounds he has good size and speed either safety spot for the Badgers, and he is a high academic kid with other offers from Vanderbilt and Boston College to name a few. Iowa State and Cincinnati are two other teams to watch in his recruitment, but this seems like the type of safety that would fit really nicely in Jim Leonhard’s room. I expect Wisconsin to be heavily involved in his recruitment going forward.

The other primary name to monitor is Christian Driver, the son of Donald Driver. He is a top-250 player that has ties to the state because of his dad. Driver is another player that the Badgers will keep fighting for all cycle, but his offer list is robust. He could be an absolutely difference maker in the back end if he indeed chose Wisconsin.

Drew’s Take: 4-star Xavier Nwankpa out of Iowa has seemingly moved off of Wisconsin’s radar mostly due to the fact that every school in the country, pretty much, wants him. I hope that UW can get back in the mix but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Austin Brown seems way more Wisconsin’s speed right now, especially considering how well UW recruited the safety position in the 2021 class. The Badgers could do way worse than Brown and I hope they don’t.


Specialists/Athletes (0-1)

Matt’s Take: After taking another walk-on kicker in the 2021 class, it appears as though the Badgers will likely continue to resort to walk-ons to fill specialist spots. Per usual, it would make sense to bring in a specialist in this class at either kicker or punter.

Drew’s Take: I don’t want to get emotionally invested into any sort of specialist until they are actually on the team at which point I will get EXTREMELY emotionally invested.