Imagine what the official visitors will think this weekend with a night game against the No.1 team in the country.
Both the coaching staffs for Wisconsin football and men's basketball team are taking advantage of what is expected to be an electric atmosphere in Madison Saturday. Kicking off the day with College Gameday, Wisconsin basketball will kickoff its season with a team scrimmage at the UW Fieldhouse, setting the stage for No.18 Wisconsin to take on the top-ranked Buckeyes in front of a national audience.
Through many phone calls and talking to many sources, Badger Nation has compiled a list of those coming to Madison this weekend.
Three-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett (6-4, 225 pounds, Dwyer High School, Palm Beach Florida)
It's been no secret that the Wisconsin coaching want one quarterback in the 2011 recruiting class and the recruit they want is Brissett. Leading Dwyer to the Florida Class 4A State Championship, Brissett passed for 1,463 yards with 19 TDs and 5 interceptions while adding 296 rushing yards, earning second-team all state honors.
Brissett earned his first scholarship offer when he was 14 years old and the offers have kept on coming from both a football and a basketball standpoint. Brissett has said before that he would like to try and play both sports in college, a main reason UW Coach Bret Bielema reportedly took him over to the Kohl Center to have a sit-down meeting with UW Coach Bo Ryan.
Brissett has trimmed his list down to Florida State, LSU, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Florida and Wisconsin. The Badgers have probably spent more collective time recruiting Brissett than any other player. Not only has Defensive Coordinator Dave Doeren – who is good friends with Brissett's head coach – come to watch him, Head Coach Bret Bielema and Wide Receivers Coach DelVaughn Alexander has come to his school.
"They talked to me like I was already a part of the program," Brissett told Badger Nation. "It's a good school. For a head coach to come down and say, ‘(Dang), I've never seen a quarterback make that throw before.' He told me that I have to be doing something good, and that meant a lot."
Brissett reportedly took an official visit to North Carolina last weekend and will head to LSU when they play Alabama on Nov. 6. He is also in the process of planning a visit to South Carolina and will look to set something official up at Florida State as well. As for when he will pull the trigger and make a decision, Brissett says he will take it slow and wait until after his official visits, as he will be busy with basketball season.
Chances of him committing to Wisconsin: 50-50
Five-star tight end Nick O'Leary (6-4, 240, Dwyer High School, Palm Beach, Florida)
Named first-team all-state after grabbing 43 catches for 679 yards and seven touchdowns, the recruitment of Scout's No.2 tight end is a little bit of a mystery. It was thought that Georgia would be the school to beat with his father played football there and his mother played volleyball there. It also was thought that Ohio State would be on the list, seeing as O'Leary is the grandson of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.
O'Leary told Scout's Chad Simmons two weeks ago that his top six schools are Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Miami and North Carolina, and it appears Alabama, Florida State and Miami are the top three schools. Even so, Wisconsin is one of only two schools (LSU) to offer O'Leary, Brissett and Maggitt, which might make the Badgers an option if the trio wants to play together.
When O'Leary came to Madison during the summer, the two were an unstoppable force in drills against other Wisconsin high school players. His routes were impeccable, their timing was flawless and the size of both of them means they can step in right away and contribute.
O'Leary was in Alabama two weeks ago for the Crimson Tide's victory over Florida and will go to LSU on November 6 when the play Alabama. O'Leary still plans to take his final two official visits before making his decision, which gives the Badgers a chance to make up a lot of ground in the race. Even though UW has two tight end commits, they certainly wouldn't turn away O'Leary.
Chances of him committing to Wisconsin: unlikely
Four-star outside linebacker Curt Maggitt (6-3, 210, Dwyer High School, Palm Beach, Florida)
The third member of the Dwyer all-state trio, Maggitt is recorded 11 sacks in regular season last season from the defensive line. When he was in Madison with his teammates, Maggitt's size, speed and athleticism showed why the Badgers offered so early during his junior year.
Like his teammates, Maggitt traveled to Tuscaloosa to watch ‘Bama throttle the Gators, saying how fun it was to watch the two schools (both of whom have offered) battle it out and cool seeing both of their defenses on the same field at different times. Maggitt was also equally excited about his official visit to Wisconsin.
"I'm so excited for (Wisconsin)," Maggitt told Badger Nation. "Me and my teammates O'Leary and Brissett are going up there so it will be really awesome. The coaches there seem really cool and they know my coach well. All three of us went to camp there and we really liked it so we're pumped to get back."
Maggitt, who hasn't announced a list of favorites, also mentioned in the interview that the three players ‘definitely talk' about playing together and that he thinks the best place all three of them could play with be at LSU, which they will officially visit next month. Bet your last dollar that the Wisconsin coaching staff will try and prove otherwise this weekend.
Chances of him committing to Wisconsin: unlikely
Three-star offensive tackle Ray Ball (6-7, 325, Westerville-South High, Westerville, Ohio)
If anyone was questioning Ball and his technique, the Kirk Herbstreit classic silenced those questions. Helping his Westerville-South offense rush for over 300 yards, Ball was physically dominant on the line of scrimmage, opening massive holes for tailback Jayshon Jackson to practically walk through. It's games like that one that make Ball the top offensive line target for UW's 2011 class.
Holding nine offers, Ball said Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan Indiana are his primary favorites because he has visited them, but also mentions his intentions to take a closer look at UCLA. Having already taken two unofficial visits to the Wisconsin campus, Ball has gotten a chance to mingle with other members of the coaching staff and members of UW's offensive line. Ball was also a recipient of a personal visit from Recruiting Coach Joe Rudolph and Offensive Line Coach Bob Bostad in Westerville.
"The first time I went (to Madison), I was really nervous," Ball told Badger Nation. "The coaches were really happy to see me then and you know, that's one thing that hasn't changed. The coaches were welcoming and nice but I know once that football time comes, they aren't going to be so nice. They are real cool and I've become real comfortable with them. Wisconsin is a real big school for me.
"That offensive line is huge to me. With Joe Rudolph having played (at UW) and now recruiting my area, it gives me a good feel. He's told me so many facts about Wisconsin and the reasons I should go there. Every question I asked him, I got a very positive answer from him."
Ball plans on taking more visits, but Wisconsin appears to be the front runner.
Chances of him committing to Wisconsin: Likely
When Badger Nation reported in June that Durham had named Wisconsin as his top school, there were reasons to be excited. After all, Durham rushed for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns his junior season, and grabbed scholarship offers all over the country. Wisconsin stayed proactive in recruiting Durham with both Rudolph and Settle visiting him in Cincinnati to pitch what he can do in Wisconsin's running game and how it prepares players to compete in the NFL.
Over the last two months, Durham told Badger Nation that next to Wisconsin, the hometown Bearcats have been recruiting him the hardest. Still, the UW running game guarantees that Durham will get carries, which is why he's excited to see it live and up close.
"I am excited to see Wisconsin play a game and talk to the coaching staff, find out how much they want me to be there and how much they really like me," Durham told Badger Nation. "It's going to be fun to see that running game."
With Durham being UW's top running back target, expect him to be the first out of the group to commit.
Chances of him committing to Wisconsin: Very Likely
Three-star cornerback Makinton Dorleant (5-11, 170, Lely High, Naples, Florida)
With all the excitement surrounding the Dwyer three and the two highly-touted Ohio kids, Dorleant's visit gets lost. Still, it's a big weekend for the Wisconsin commit, as he will be viewing the Badgers' campus for the very first time.
Wanting to make his decision before football season, Dorleant broke the news to Badger Nation in late July that he was picking UW over his other favorite, West Virginia, after the Mountaineers wouldn't let him visit until the end of the season. Dorleant also was offered by Florida International, Florida State, Iowa State, Maryland, Middle Tennessee and Texas Tech.
Wisconsin usually wants to get prospects on campus first before accepting a verbal commit, but Dorleant's skills and UW's need a secondary were too good to pass up. Running a 4.37 40-yard dash, Dorleant earned the reputation as one of the best special teams player in southwest Florida, blocking three punts and two field goals to go along with his 48 tackles.
"There was no anxiousness at all (in committing but not having visited UW)," Dorleant told Badger Nation in an exclusive. "The guys that I know from around this area love Wisconsin. I have no doubt that when I go up to Wisconsin that I won't change my mind. The atmosphere about Wisconsin is unbelievable from what I hear. I have no doubt that Wisconsin is the place for me."
Four-star shooting forward J.P. Tokoto (6-5, 180, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin)
Tokoto's ranking took a hit after he struggled at NBA Camp in the summer but make no mistake about it, he is still the best player in the Wisconsin, if not the Midwest. Tokoto has a way about him for sure, using his size and length to cut through the smaller traffic and finish around the rim. Tokoto did show his abilities to play from the perimeter at the Wisconsin Exposure Classic in the Dells at the end of July, and was aggressive on drives to the basket.
Averaging 18.6 points per game during his sophomore year for the Indians, Tokoto is priority one on Ryan's agenda, which can be seen by the amount of time the UW coach and his staff have come and sat courtside for AAU and high school games. Tokoto often comes on unofficial visits to Wisconsin, including two last year and one already this year.
"Our relationship is really good," Tokoto told Badger Nation about his dealing with Ryan and Gard. "It's a home school, so you know they will always be around wherever I go. I really like them spending their time to come out and see me. I really enjoy seeing them, they are really cool to talk to and they are really supportive of me and my family."
Tokoto has also been getting heavy interest from North Carolina Coach Roy Williams, who has also flown up to Wisconsin multiple times to watch him workout. Duke and Kansas are also in the equation. Tokoto plans to wait until next summer to narrow down his list and bring his recruitment into focus. Even with 15 offers and dozens of college coaches phoning it, Tokoto claims he has no favorites.
Despite reports by other outlets, sources have told Badger Nation that Tokoto is the only 2012 offer the UW staff has extended. While the Badgers will continue to recruit and have a backup plan, the staff is letting Tokoto know that he is the guy.
Three-star forward Sam Dekker (6-6, 185, Sheboygan Lutheran, Sheboygan)
Wisconsin first verbal commit for 2012, Dekker is a solid athlete that Wisconsin fans can easily get behind. He's roughly the same height as Tokoto after growing five inches in the last calendar year and can do many of the same athletic moves. He's a very good in-your-face defender with solid range and has a very good inside-outside game, impressive for a player that is still learning how to play in the post.
"(Coach Ryan) said that I could play the one, two or three for him, that I could handle the ball and still go inside or shoot from the outside," Dekker told Badger Nation. "He said I would be great for them. He said that guys like me – 6-foot-7, long and can play the point guard if needed to – don't come around too often. He said that he couldn't ever pass something up like that. He said that he loved I could see the court from the point guard path and that I play the game the smart way."
Dekker has good range from the perimeter and is learning to be aggressive and productive in the post. After he puts on some weight, Dekker could be a four-star player, as his upside and potential are off the charts. Most importantly, Dekker is good friends with Tokoto and Koenig, and don't be shocked if he pushed playing close to home on them until they commit.
Bronson Koenig (6-1, 160 pounds, Aquinas, La Crosse)
If Tokoto is priority number one, Koenig is number two, and the race for the shifty point guard's services is just starting to heat up.
Ryan was the first school to extend an offer, doing so after the Badgers' elite camp, but Marquette followed suit at the end of July and Roy Williams, who saw Koenig over the summer because he, Tokoto and Dekker all play on the AAU Playground Warriors together, flew up La Crosse to watch Koenig in an open gym workout.
Koenig has all the makings of a top Division 1 point guard. He's a pass-first player with good touch and some power on his passes, good vision dribble up the court and has a smooth shot from the perimeter. Koenig is quick defensively, with quick feet and active hands. More times than not, Koenig forced the opposing point guard to go towards the sideline instead of driving into the middle of the floor or poke the ball free and let his defense set up. It's the little things that like that make him the prospect that he is.
Like Tokoto and Dekker, Koenig has been multiple unofficial visits to Madison. Like Tokoto, there is still a long way to go in his recruitment.
Publisher's Notes: All four high school seniors who have made verbal commitments to play for the Badgers next season are expected to make their visits this weekend: 6-2 guard Traevon Jackson (from the same high school and good friends with Ball), 6-10 forward Frank Kaminsky (Benet Academy, Lisle, Illnois), 6-foot guard George Marshall (Brooks Academy, Chicago) and 6-8 forward Jarrod Uthoff (Jefferson High, Cedar Rapids). Early Signing day for basketball is November 10.
Wisconsin basketball also expects Milwaukee Hamilton freshman forward David Burrell, Prior Lake (MN) sophomore center Carson Shanks and Apple Valley freshman point guard Tyrus Jones. Wisconsin football expects plenty of unofficial visitors, as well, including Barrington (Ill) offensive guard Dan Voltz (who informed Scout that he will try and make his decision after his junior season) and four-star tackle Jordan Diamond (Chicago).
Three-star offensive lineman Josue Matias (Union (N.J.) Senior High) is not expected to be on campus this weekend. Matias suffered a senior-ending knee injury, so the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder would like to give his knee a couple more weeks or rest before making the trip.