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Wisconsin football recruiting: UW misses on top two targets in 2023 class

It’s back to the drawing board again for Wisconsin.

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!

Top targets are heading elsewhere

  • One of the top players in the whole country, 4-star LB Tackett Curtis (Many, La.) announced that he’ll be heading west to play for future Big Ten school Southern Cal. The Badgers and Ohio State were his other two finalists.

What it all means

These two misses hurt. At one point or another the Badgers were considered heavy favorites for Crocker and assistant coach Bobby April recruited Curtis harder than anyone in the country to put Wisconsin in legitimate contention for a top-100 prospect out of a state they never recruit in. These two players would have been the top player, by far, in Wisconsin’s 2023 class (Curtis, 0.9583 score for 247 Composite) and the third highest ranked player (Crocker, 0.8833 score for 247 Composite) as well. Crocker was .0007 points away from being the second best player in the class too.

Wisconsin now doesn’t have a viable option left on their board at offensive tackle or linebacker. While they secured an early commitment from 3-star LB Tyler Jansey (Batavia, Ill.) who looks like a solid, under-the-radar prospect, he is no Curtis. The Badgers also have two offensive line commitments in James Durand (most likely an interior option) and Christopher Terek, who could be a tackle, but it’s unclear where Wisconsin projects him.

Losing out on both of these prospects isn’t something that will cripple the program, but it does speak to Wisconsin’s ceiling and what prospects might think about them. These are two players, at positions Wisconsin regularly puts players into the NFL at, who chose to go to programs with worse recent records on the field and worse recent records of producing professional talent.

The Badgers shouldn’t be losing offensive linemen to Mississippi State, unless that lineman is from Starkville or related to a Bulldogs coach. Wisconsin will rarely, if ever, pull a blue-chip prospect out of Louisiana but if they were to do so...Curtis was the perfect storm of a player and they didn’t get it done.

In the grand scheme of things losing two players at positions of strength won’t make the Badgers start missing bowl games, but missing out on these higher end prospects will make a self-built ceiling even lower for Wisconsin. The Big Ten West will never be better than the Big Ten East, but for years there the Badgers were far and away the class of their division. That is no longer the case.

Every team in the West is improving their recruiting and Nebraska, who was already recruiting at the highest level in the division, is proving to be especially adept in the transfer portal as well. The Badgers are still among the best in the country at developing talent and turning players into all-conference performers but if they started with a higher floor of talent, imagine what they could do!

Anyways, hopefully the ‘23 class is a speed bump in the road and Mickey Turner will have the recruiting department humming along for the ‘24 class, where there are already some impressive prospects interested in UW.