There have been a dizzying number of players who have transferred in and a correspondingly large pool of Badgers who have left the program this off-season.
So, in the first of this two-part series, I examined the most impactful players who have transferred away from Madison recently, and now I’m turning to the 5 guys (so far) who I believe will be the best for the Wisconsin Badgers going forward.
Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke
While any one-year player’s long-term value to the Badgers will likely fall short of the younger players on this list, the quarterback position in the 2024 Wisconsin offense will be, by far, the most important.
He has shown flashes of being a big-time Power 5 quarterback, with his best season coming in 2021 when he had a fantastic 25 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions, with a bevy of big plays.
He even garnered interest from Alabama after an up-and-down 2022 year, but a marginal 2023 season playing for his third offensive in three seasons hurt Van Dyke’s stock.
So, he comes to Madison dripping with upside but with a lot to prove. The Badgers’ 2024 fortunes are firmly harnessed to Van Dyke.
USC LB Tackett Curtis
It’s no secret that Mike Tressel’s 2023 unit lacked impact players/disruptors/sure tacklers at linebacker, so landing Curtis, a consensus high four-star recruit last cycle (who had Wisconsin in play until the end), was a massive win for Fickell, who beat out Ohio State and LSU for Curtis in the portal.
While 2023 wasn’t what the young linebacker was hoping for at USC, the fact that he started as a true freshman hints at his huge upside.
Arkansas LB Jaheim Thomas
A four-star transfer who comes to the Badgers from Arkansas, Thomas has a very good chance to be an impact player at linebacker for Wisconsin from Day 1 and immediately upgrades the athleticism of the room.
An Ohio native, Thomas initially went to Cincinnati, where he played under head coach Luke Fickell, before moving to Arkansas last season.
In a winter of big linebacker portal pickups for the Badgers, Thomas is right there with Curtis as far as upside. This was a huge win for Fickell and his staff.
LSU TE Jackson McGohan
A large, fast LSU transfer tight end with a high ceiling (and bevy of high-end offers out of high school like Auburn and Oklahoma), McGohan should immediately step in and challenge for starter snaps on the 2024 Badgers, giving Van Dyke another option outside of the running back and wide receiver rooms.
247Sports said this of McGohan as a senior: “Has top-notch ball skills with the ability to win 50-50 balls and make acrobatic, tough grabs with regularity. Catches the ball away from his body naturally. Smooth route runner. Runs hard after the catch and will break tackles.”
There are never any guarantees, especially at tight end, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t emerge as a nice player for the Badgers.
William & Mary OLB John Pius
An On3 four-star transfer, Pius, a senior, comes to Wisconsin as a high-upside outside linebacker/edge rusher from FCS William & Mary.
There’s a good chance he immediately provides a boost to a Badger pass rush room that mostly underachieved in 2023, giving Tressel another versatile weapon for his somewhat complex scheme.
A good showing by Pius this fall for the Badgers should put him firmly in play as a prospect to watch for the 2025 NFL Draft.