This year, the recruiting process is about done. The Badgers seem safe on their commits, and they'll have a chance to finish strongly in the final month or so. So today's post asks the question, who's joining Austin Kafentzis in 2015? Or more appropriately, who's currently realistic for the Badgers to have a chance at going into 2015?
Right now, I'm going to give you 14 names to start dreaming about for 2015. These are players who seem, according to 247sports, to have the Badgers in their top five or listed as "Warm." And while we're likely not going to even get half of them, if someone told you that there was a real possibility that we were going to get all sorts of talent alongside those in-state linemen in August, you'd think them mad.
So let's see what the Badgers are looking toward in their future.
1. DE Jashon Cornell
6'4, 260 lbs.
Saint Paul, MN
One of the places the Badgers are going to attempt to win at next year is Cretin Durham Hall in Saint Paul. It's a traditional athletic power and a place where the cream of college football always seems to make a point of visiting. As for Cornell, he already has offers from 27 schools including Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas and USC. And as for the athletic potential, just watch the first play of this highlight film.
Yeah. The team he commits to is going to get someone with all of the upside.
2. OG Steven Gonzalez
6'5, 300 lbs.
Union City, NJ
As offensive linemen go, this guy is a road grader. Coming out of Union City, N.J., Gonzalez recently named the Badgers in his top four. They have to go up against Ohio State, South Carolina and home-state Rutgers. But he's someone Thomas Hammock's coming after. He knows how to recruit a little.
3. OT Jon Dietzen
6-5, 330 lbs.
A good rule of thumb in evaluating the upside of a Wisconsin recruiting class is the quality of its in-state offensive linemen. And with Jon Dietzen, the Badgers have a potential tailor-made right tackle from Seymour. Right now, it's between us and Nebraska in terms of offers, but that's a list that could well grow.
4. DT Kahlil McKenzie
6'4, 305 lbs.
Green Bay, WI
When is an in-state prospect not an in-state prospect? When he's playing high school ball in California. The four-star talent left Green Bay and went west to claim his football fortunes at De La Salle in California. He's got the upside to be another big hoss in the trenches. The prospect has interest from the expected national powers (Alabama, Florida State, etc.) with current offers from Miami, Washington and Wisconsin.
5. WR Alex Ofodile
6'3, 185 lbs.
But the Badgers have four (and possibly five) wide receivers coming, you're going to tell me. And here's the thing: you get deep into a position in a class, you can take a year and go after a blue-chipper. Ofodile is definitely someone who can make a strong one-man positional recruiting class. But you're going after someone from Columbia, Mo., after the year Missouri just had. It's a long way from now, but the Badgers aren't first-tier quite yet.
6. RB Michael Weber
5'10, 190 lbs.
Going into Michigan and challenging for a recruit whose top two is Sparty and the Wolverines might seem like a waste of time, but with Weber, the talent is worth the effort. The Detroit native definitely has that sort of get-to-top-speed quickness that makes him a recruit that teams would work hard for. And of course the Badgers have been doing very well in turning high schoolers into professional-ready talents. But he seems like the longer shot.
7. ATH Osa Masina
6'4, 218 lbs.
Salt Lake City, UT
Once more into Utah with this talent. Because if Austin Kafentzis is the best player in Utah, Masina is 1A. For the Badgers, he's got the athleticism to be a very scary proposition as an outside linebacker. Masina's already elicited offers from Michigan, Oklahoma, Stanford and UCLA, as well as BYU and the hometown Utah Utes. With interest from Notre Dame and USC as well, Masina is going to be a hotly contested recruit.
8. OT/DE Joshua Alabi
6'5, 270 lbs.
Like Weber, Alabi comes from Cass Technical out of Detroit. And he definitely would slot in well on either side of the ball. He's got the frame to add some weight and keep his quickness as an offensive lineman. But if his inclination is to play defense, he fits in perfectly. Like Weber, the Badgers are going up against both in-state schools, Ohio State and Tennessee for their services.
9. ILB Cameron Smith
6'3, 240 lbs.
Granite Bay, CA
This Granite Bay, Calif., product could lazily be described as Chris Borland with the height. If you look at his Hudl profile, you might be surprised by the fact the Badgers are one of the first four teams to make an offer for Smith (San Diego State, UCLA and Washington State are the others). But then you see that he broke a tackle and didn't get caught from behind on the first interception return, and you see he's got athleticism. Then you keep watching and he's got the sideline-to-sideline play that makes the Borland comparison a little less lazy.
10. OT Gabe Megginson
6'5, 295 lbs.
Another place where the Badgers seek to make inroads to is Illinois. This year brought them the sleeper two-star talent in T.J. Edwards; next year, they're going to take a shot some major Illinois talents. Like Dietzen, the major recruiting battle for Megginson currently falls between the Badgers and Nebraska. The Jacksonville, Ill., would be the left tackle to Dietzen's right tackle in potential future iterations of the Badgers.
11. RB Nasir Bonner
5'10, 180 lbs.
Last year, Thomas Hammock went to New Jersey and got himself a future star running back in Corey Clement. Next year, we may see the Badgers going into the city of Brotherly Love. Bonner's from the Philadelphia Imhotep Institute and as his Hudl profile shows, he's got some shiftiness to his game that will make you believe in his skills. As an added bonus, Bonner has seen time as a slot wide receiver, which may afford him third-down back status surprisingly quickly.
12. TE David Edwards
6'6, 225 lbs.
Downers Grove, IL
A part of the reason why the Badgers aren't too worried about missing a year at tight end, beyond the fact they're reasonably impressed with the development of Sam Arneson and Derek Watt, is David Edwards. Edwards is another quarterback the Badgers have recruited who would make the transition to a new position in college. The Downers Grove, Ill., product has garnered interest from Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford.
13. WR/S Austin Brown
6'4, 190 lbs.
When you go after a player and give him his first offer, there's definite love there. And when you consider where exactly Tanner McEvoy ended up, the size and athleticism of Austin Brown would be something that the Badgers would love to fit in at safety. If he commits, he could play quickly.
14. CB Maurice Smitherman
5'11, 178 lbs.
Last year, it seemed crazy that the Badgers were going into Georgia. This year, the Badgers are going to take a swing at an Alabama cornerback prospect. Are they mad? Not exactly. For one, the Adamsville prospect doesn't have the precluding of an offer from Alabama or Auburn. For two, the misses in recruiting this season seem to promise early playing time for whoever would join at cornerback, be they a D'Cota Dixon for 2014 or a Smitherman for 2015.
There you have it. 1,300 words on an entirely-too-early look at 2015. It may not have the out-and-out excitement of this year's class, but there's a lot of depth here and there's definitely going to be a piece or three that strikes quickly.
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