Death, Taxes and Madison, Wisconsin being a nice place to spend a weekend in early June.
It’s what the Wisconsin Badgers have relied on for the past few years to help lure their top targets to play in Madison. With another month of June upon us, three more weekends are planned to bring the Badgers’ top rookies to their board in the nation’s top college town and add to their roster.
With the first scheduled to start on Friday, June 3, let’s take a look at how the Badgers targets would fit into the current/future roster:
LB, Tackett Curtis, Many HS (Many, La.)
While I have no doubt the talented Curtis could play any linebacker position very well for the Badgers, he projects himself as an outside linebacker for the time being.
With Nick Herbig poised to be a redshirt junior by the time Curtis arrives on campus, the opening at 3-4 designated outside linebacker could have an opening soon after.
Wisconsin’s defense has been good regardless, but when they have a difference factor there (think TJ Watt or Zack Baun), it takes the Badgers defense from good to special, and Curtis, rookie No. 56 overall in the country according to 247Sports, could provide that kind of spark.
The Big Fellas: OT, Joe Crocker, Franklin Road Academy (Nashville, Tenn.), OT Christoper Terek, Glenbard West HS (Glen Ellyn, Illinois) and IOL James Durand, Basha HS (Chandler, Arizona)
We’ll start with Durand, because he’s already committed to Wisconsin. The interior offensive linemen signed on in May at the start of a string of commitments for Cardinal and White. Although he is already hired, this puts him in an excellent position to help recruit Crocker and Terek to join the program.
Crocker is 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds and has a tender sheet almost as tall as he is. He was made an immediate priority by new offensive line coach Bob Bostad, and his length and tackle size are exactly what the Badgers are looking for.
Terek is a rising prospect who over the past month has had offers from Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and others. Another Illinois target, the Land of Lincoln has been a hot spot for the Badgers in this class with already three commitments from there (LB Tyler Jansey, DB Justin Taylor and DL Roderick Pierce). Terek also has the height, length and frame to become what Wisconsin is looking for in this position.
While Wisconsin has “recruited” the offensive tackle position very well over the past two seasons, both projected starting tackles this season will begin their first seasons at tackle (rSo Jack Nelson at LT and rJR Logan Brown at RT). Nolan Rucci and Riley Mahlman were also brought to OT last year, but you don’t stay strong in a position by not recruiting for the future.
The Other Side of the Ball Big Fellas: DL My’Keil Gardner, Liberty HS (Peoria, Arizona) and DL Ashton Sanders, Cathedral HS (Los Angeles)
Wisconsin already has a defensive line commitment from Chicago’s Roderick Pierce (Brother Rice HS), but I guess the Badgers are far from done adding big bodies along the defensive line.
The name of the game in this class seems to be versatility. While the Badgers feel Pierce could play tackle in their 3-4 base defense if needed, he’s athletic enough to play all the way down the defensive line. That’s also how they feel about Gardner and Sanders, who provide height (6-foot-2/275 pounds, 6-foot-3/295 pounds, respectively) and athleticism.
Wisconsin will lose stud nose tackle Keeanu Benton after the 2022 season to the NFL, and doesn’t have as much established depth behind him or anywhere along the defensive line, for that matter.
*side note – watch for Jamel Howard on the official tour next weekend, with pals Justin Taylor and Rod Pierce also on the tour. Points along the defensive line could quickly become scarce.
The DBs: CB Nate Johnson, Clearwater Central Catholic (Clearwater, Florida), ATH Khalil Tate, Kenwood Academy (Chicago)
Leave it to Jim Leonhard to load up the official visiting calendar with under-the-radar defensive backs with plenty of attractive traits.
Around the corner, Nate Johnson is an under-the-radar Florida kid the Badgers have had success with in the past (Natrell Jamerson, Faion Hicks), and while he’s not the greatest, Wisconsin n haven’t completely fallen victim to the trend of having all corners 6ft 2in and 6ft 3in. Perhaps it’s market inefficiency that the Badgers can capitalize on, and they’re doing their best.
Tate is another Chicagoland target the Badgers view as a safety to partner in the backend with fellow Illinois forward Justin Taylor. Please disregard what I said about Badgers not targeting big defensive backs as Tate’s height at 6ft 3in will help him safety, although he could still be fired defaults to cornerback. He may be the next child to watch for engagements.
The others: QB Lincoln Keinholz, TF Riggs HS (Pierre, SD), TE Zach Ortwerth, St. Louis University (St. Louis, MO), LB Tyler Jansey, Batavia HS (Batavia, Ill.)
Yes, even at the University of Wisconsin, the quarterback position is the most important on the football team. While some fans may have thought that the signing of Graham Mertz would mark the beginning of an era where Wisconsin is constantly in play for early quarterback recruits, I regret to inform them that it does not seem be the case, as Badgers personnel are on the hunt for rough diamonds.
Keinholz is an under-the-radar prospect, but after their recruiting board was chosen, he’s the best offer for the Badgers. They are the best offer among its first four (Wisconsin, Washington, Wyoming, State of North Dakota).
Somehow I get paid to write for this website so you’d think I’d have a good answer to this but I don’t know why Wisconsin isn’t able to appeal to top-rated tight recruits. That being said, Ortwerth is at the top of his target chart in this position. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound prospect projects as a traditional Y-line tight end for the Badgers.
Jansey is another committed prospect, in fact he was the first player to commit to Wisconsin in the Class of 2023. The Badgers were very early on Jansey, and he has a big opportunity to help recruit the crowd of Chicagoland prospect that Wisconsin is currently seeking (Tate, Howard, Joe Kingsbury, among others).
All in all, over the next few weeks, I expect Wisconsin to embark on a real string of commits. With Mickey Turner in charge, they seem to have put themselves in a better position for more targets at this point than they did last year, which isn’t necessarily any one particular person’s fault after Saeed Khalid left. and Jensen Gebhart, but it’s definitely a good sign for things to come.