The on-the-field product is certainly coming together, but that’s not the lone focus for the Badgers, who have been extremely busy on the recruiting front, bringing in a significant number of visitors for each of their two home games thus far.
Among the bunch was 2026 offensive lineman Mitchel Bilicki, who came down for the Badgers’ 38-17 win over Georgia Southern.
The gameday atmosphere was exactly as expected for Bilicki, who pointed out the energy of Camp Randall Stadium as something that clearly stood out.
“It was everything you would expect coming into Wisconsin,” Bilicki shared to Bucky’s 5th Quarter. “Very welcoming, high energy, and a great experience overall. Lots of questions answered very fast and lots of great feedback given throughout the visit.”
Bilicki, who was down for a camp/visit in June, was able to reconnect with a few of the coaches he met during his last trip to Madison in what was a great overall experience.
While Bilicki is still very young as a 2026 recruit, the coaching staff has taken an interest in the Arrowhead native, who coincidentally plays next to 2024 three-star commit Derek Jensen on the offensive line.
“[Conversations with the staff] have been good,” Bilicki said. “The conversations that we’ve had have been them telling me to continue to keep working and taking care of myself, and making sure to continue to keep in touch with them. They’ve also told me that they look forward to my development and love that I’m playing next to one of their commits (Derek Jensen).”
The hometown connection with a Badgers commit has been special for Bilicki, who acknowledged that the duo have talked about Jensen’s recruiting experience with Wisconsin.
“I have [spoken with Derek Jensen about Wisconsin],” Bilicki said. “It’s always a football player's dream coming out of Wisconsin to play for their home state. Wisconsin Football has always been a huge part of my and my family’s life so playing for them would be a dream come true.”
“But, talking with Derek about how he feels about the new coaching staff and the program in general has been nothing but positive. And I only see the program continue to rise as time goes on.”
While Bilicki hasn't had many conversations with offensive line coach Jack Bicknell yet, the two were able to quickly re-connect for a moment during his gameday visit, and the recruit had nothing but good words to say about the coach.
“I have [spoken with Coach Bicknell], but not a huge amount yet. I talked to him at the end of the camp I attended and then a small reconnect at the visit. Overall, I think he’s a great coach and person overall. Seems like a very smart man with high expectations.”
Unfortunately, there won’t be opportunities to watch the 2026 offensive lineman this season, as Bilicki suffered a season-ending injury that required him to shut down.
However, Bilicki viewed the setback as a blessing in disguise, and is looking forward to putting everything together next season.
“I believe it’s a blessing in disguise,” Bilicki said in regards to his injury. “The entire season, it’s always been on the back of my mind while trying to play through it. And to now finally have it fixed and have nothing to worry about besides performing at my very best is something I look forward to.”
“Recovery-wise, I am looking to start right away and getting fully recovered right away. My goals for next year will not change from this year. I will continue to keep my mind on the same goal of playing at the next level. This next season is going to be very important to not just me but the rest of my team. So getting this extra time to continue to work not only on my craft but on my mind is going to really help.”
Bilicki has experience at tackle, but is best seen as an interior option at the next level, which the Badgers are evaluating him for.
“They definitely see me playing interior as my current size which is what I played in my sophomore season, but in my freshman season, I played left tackle so I definitely have the capability of playing all 5 positions on the line, which is what I’ve been working on.”
“If I continue to grow, playing tackle is definitely an option but as of now, interior is looking like the main option.”
While it’s early in the process, Bilicki has seen interest from Minnesota, Iowa, Wyoming, North Dakota, Miami Ohio, and now Wisconsin.