The Wisconsin Badgers had been linked with multiple transfer candidates this off-season in an attempt to round out their 2021 roster. On Friday evening, the Badgers landed the transfer commitment of former Oregon Ducks DE Isaac Townsend.
Townsend is a 6-foot-5 defensive end from Ralston Valley High School in Colorado that spend his first two seasons of college at Oregon. A 2019 recruit, Townsend redshirted his first year on campus and then opted to enter transfer portal in January following the 2020 season. With the COVID-19 exception for the 2020 year in place, it is expected that Townsend should have four years of eligibility left in Madison.
A former high-three star recruit, Townsend was a fairly sought after recruit with Power-5 offers spanning the country from the likes of Boise State, Iowa State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Washington State prior to commitment with the Ducks out of high school.
At Oregon, Townsend was listed as a defensive end in their hybrid 3-4 scheme, but he did not record a tackle in 2020. With freak athlete Kayvon Thibodeaux the firm starter on the depth chart, and true freshman standout Brandyn Swinson also seeing time ahead of him in the rotation, his decision to transfer was not unsurprising.
Listed last season at 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds, he has consistently worked to add weight while in Eugene, and the expectation currently is that he will come to Madison to play along the defensive front. Townsend is a good athlete that has familiarity with a 3-4 front, which should speed up the learning curve for fitting in under Ross Kolodziej. Continuing to add weight will be a must, so it will be interesting to see how he is listed come fall camp. If he can get into the 270-280 range, that would definitely bolster his chances of making an immediate impact.
In terms of fit, Townsend is an intriguing player that as previously noted has multiple years of eligibility left. Under Jim Leonhard the Badgers have recently been bringing in hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end prospects that have position flexibility along the front seven to go along with more traditional defensive ends (for the 3-4) such as Isaiahh Loudermilk and Cade McDonald. I see Townsend more aligned to the former, with the ability to play with his hand in the ground or standing up as a LB. He is still a bit of an unknown, but the raw ability is there.
With both Loudermilk and Garrett Rand gone, and the injury status of Matt Henningsen still up in the air, bringing in Townsend’s skillset to the room makes a ton of sense. Henningsen and Isaiah Mullens are the most likely starters entering the spring, but Townsend is another player to monitor come fall now that he is aboard.