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Wiscosnin football recruiting: the quarterback position

Upon the heat death of the universe we will still be discussing how UW just needs one QB to hit and they’ll be a Playoff team.

NCAA Football: Iowa 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!

Well...shit

  • 2023 3-star QB Lincoln Kienholz (Pierre, S.D.) has chosen the wrong UW. Kienholz announced on Wednesday afternoon that he’ll be attending Washington and not Wisconsin or North Dakota State, his other two finalists.

This has been the same story for Wisconsin going back years: they can’t effectively recruit quarterbacks. Even for the style of play that the Badgers use, quarterback is still the most important position on the field. Let’s take a look at their recruiting of this position since they signed 4-star Graham Mertz (No. 3 QB in class) in 2019.

2020 offers (3): 4-star Tyler Van Dyke (Miami (Fla.)), 4-star Max Johnson (LSU), 4-star Parker McQuarrie (UCLA)

2021 offers (8): 5-star J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), 4-star Ty Thompson (Oregon), 4-star Sawyer Robertson (Mississippi State), 4-star Behren Morton (Texas Tech), 4-star Jake Rubley (Kansas State), 4-star Sam Jackson (TCU), 3-star Deacon Hill (Wisconsin), 3-star Jordan Moore (Duke)

2022 offers (4): 4-star Devin Brown (Ohio State), 4-star Brady Allen (Purdue), 3-star Cameron Edge (Maryland), 3-star Myles Burkett (Wisconsin)

2023 offers (5): 5-star Dante Moore (Oregon lean), 4-star Avery Johnson (heavy Kansas State lean), 4-star JJ Kohl (Iowa State commit), 4-star Brayden Dorman (Arizona commit), 3-star Lincoln Kienholz (Washington commit)

2024 offers (5): 5-star CJ Carr (Notre Dame commit), 4-star Michael Van Buren, 4-star Walker White, 4-star Dante Reno (South Carolina lean), 4-star Mabrey Mettauer

2025 offers (2): Ryan Montgomery (very early Ohio State lean), Stone Saunders

I don’t want to sound alarmist or anything...but the QB recruiting at Wisconsin has been a disaster! The Badgers either didn’t take a scholarship QB (2020 and what’s looking like 2023) or took one of the two most lowest rated ones they offered in the class (2021 and 2022).

They have offered some talented ‘24 QBs but their top guy is already off the board and one of the other four is a lean to an SEC school. Can they get their ducks in a row and put the full-court press on one of those other 4-star guys? I sure as hell hope so!

Another aspect of the quarterback position is not finding one in the transfer portal this offseason that could compete with Mertz. Were they close to getting Caleb Williams over Southern Cal? Who can really say, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The Badgers have done well in the portal at other positions (rebuilding their defensive backfield with veteran CBs and a safety this offseason, for example) but, just like high school recruiting, quarterback is a different beast.

Could Hill or Burkett, neither of whom have taken a snap for Wisconsin yet, outperform their ranking and be another diamond in the rough that the Badgers staff discovered? Sure, I suppose so...but it sure as shit ain’t likely! Mertz has barely developed at all in Madison (you could make a solid argument that he has gotten worse) and he is the most talented QB on the roster by far. There is nothing that gives me confidence that the staff can turn Hill or Burkett into an all-conference signal caller.

The funny (?) thing about this is, Kienholz might not even be that good! His tape looks solid, but he plays his high school ball in South Dakota, not exactly a Power 5 prospect hotbed of talent. And even so, the Badgers couldn’t even beat out Washington, who are coming off of a 4-8 season, have a new head coach and have had one QB (Jacob Eason) drafted in the last decade.

This season is going to set the stage for Wisconsin’s future quarterback recruiting. If Mertz can’t produce at, a bare minimum, league average in new offensive coordinator’s Bobby Engram’s system, then UW won’t get a QB better than Hill or Burkett for the foreseeable future.