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Wisconsin football recruiting: Badgers hosting big visits for Northwestern game

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The weather might not cooperate, but there is plenty of recruiting interest for the Badgers coming into this weekend.

Lake Forest, Ill., defensive end Thomas Schaffer.
Lake Forest, Ill., defensive end Thomas Schaffer.
Student Sports

The rather nice fall in Wisconsin looks like it's going to get its first jolt of winter in the run up to Saturday's Northwestern game. Four to eight inches of snow are forecasted for Madison going into Saturday morning, and for Saturday afternoon, a high of 31 degrees is going to be exacerbated by winds out of the north from 15 to 25 miles per hour.

In short, as I write this, a visitors list has a slightly stronger chance of flux to it than the average weekend.

Still, the promise remains for Wisconsin's recruiting efforts. The Badgers are on better ground than one might expect with visitors -- I mean, for one thing, they're planning to visit after all.

Two notes, though, before we go on. As it stands right now, J.J. Givens, the three-star cornerback from Mechanicsville, Va., isn't on the expected visitors list. For whatever reason that went south, the Badgers do have three cornerbacks coming, and you might have heard four-star defensive tackle and Michigan State decommit Naquan Jones is planning on visiting Madison this weekend (but if you consider previous experience, the reports out of East Lansing provide all sorts of reasons ($) not to hold your breath toward gaining any sort of ground here).

Official visitors

With Carmel, Ind., linebacker commit Noah Burks and St. Charles, Ill., 2017 tight end Griffin Hammer -- quite possibly the greatest action-hero name of all time -- as the current unofficial visits of interest, the Badgers are set to have six prospects coming officially. Five are from positions of need, and the sixth is a man-sized defensive end.

RB C.J. Freeman: The Greensboro, N.C. , three-star prospect and South Carolina commit is still the most likely running back flip for Wisconsin, but he is currently scheduled to make one more visit to the Gamecocks before his planned early enrollment. Louisville also looms, but the odds are still that if there's a flip, it's from South Carolina to Wisconsin. Just probably not this weekend.

RB George Hill: Fun fact about the four-star back from Hubbard, Ohio: since the Badgers made him an offer, he's visited Michigan State twice -- and despite having all the momentum, the Spartans haven't closed the deal yet. The pitch of early playing time and being coached by someone who knows what it takes to make the NFL might not be enough for the Badgers to land a high-pedigree four-star, but it's definitely enough for Hill to listen.

DE Thomas Schaffer: Conventional wisdom on the Austrian-born three-star prospect from Lake Forest, Ill., is that Wisconsin trails Oregon and Stanford. But the Badgers get closing-ups with a visit from Schaffer this weekend, and he found himself enjoying his time on previous visits to Madison. Paul Chryst and company have won battles against unexpected rivals and in unexpected places, so they could land a commitment here.

CB A'Shon Riggins: In a narrative sense, the three-star cornerback from Hamilton, Ohio, has some similarities with 2015 commit Titus Booker. A good athlete with an offer months before an official visit, he comes to Madison currently committed to Indiana. That said, this might not be a situation where the Badgers can just waltz in and get Riggins's commitment on fiat alone -- he did choose Indiana over Nebraska and West Virginia. With Kevin Wilson in peril, the situation might have changed, but it's not time to call a flip.

CB Myles Wolfolk: The Badgers have absolutely made a move into Maryland in this year's recruiting class, landing safeties Patrick Johnson from Potomac and Eric Burrell from Owings Mills. Wolfolk, a three-star Virginia Tech commit from Upper Marlboro, has a chance to make it a literal power trio. Like Freeman, Wolfolk is an early entrant, and with Frank Beamer leaving at the end of the year, there is a situation in flux. If the situation in Blacksburg is too murky by the time Wolfolk has to decide, he's highly likely to become a Badger.

CB Patrice Rene: The Canadian-born, three-star Rutgers commit is a highly intriguing official visitor out of Alexandria, Va. For one thing, anytime you get a cornerback prospect that's 6'2 with both good ball and tackle skills interested in you, it's a good day. For a second thing, Rene was a four-star prospect until he lost a star in transit sometime after he became a Rutgers commit. For the third thing, since Kyle Flood came back the situation in Piscataway has been horrible. If Rutgers pulls the trigger on firing him, Wisconsin could grab a quality prospect on the rebound.

Long story short, this weekend presents a situation where the Badgers are likely to flip a prospect -- eventually. The upside of it all: they're in a position where no one looks like they're taking a free trip for a game with gravitas -- even before it looked like there was going to be the stereotypical winter day in Wisconsin.