The Badgers are well ahead of the recruiting curve for what is shaping up to be a star studded 2012 recruiting class that only has a handful of targets remaining on board. The Badgers have eight verbal commitments in a class that sits with approximately five more spots currently.
In this series, Badgernation.com takes a look at the prospects on board, who is out there and who is already gone. The criteria are the prospect must hold a verbal offer from Wisconsin, must be actively recruited by the Badgers or have an interest in the program.
Four-star QB Bart Houston, 6-4, 201, De La Salle (Cal.) High
Badgernation.com's take: After going through the Jacoby Brissett fiasco last season, the Wisconsin coaches learned what could happen when they only offer one quarterback after August 1. Splashing the pot early and often, the decision from Houston was a huge grab early in the recruiting process for Wisconsin. Houston has won 26 straight games as a starter for one of the best high school programs in the country. As a junior, Houston completed over 66 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,922 yards and 20 touchdowns to just four interceptions, impressive numbers considering he usually played the first half and only played two complete games due to his team's strength. Throw in the fact he rushed for 11 touchdowns and it's easy to see why Houston is the state's top rated quarterback, and why so many are excited about his commitment.
Four-star RB Vonte Jackson, 6-0, 185, Kenosha Bradford (Wis.) High
Badgernation.com's take: With the wealth of talent and depth at running back, the Badgers were looking for one solid running back in the 2012 recruiting class. After getting a verbal commitment from Melvin Gordon, the Badgers lucked out with an early decision from Jackson in late March. Although he played second fiddle to Gordon, Jackson finished his junior season with 68 carries for 956 yards and 13 touchdowns and will be able to fit right into the fold.
Who is out there:
Two-star QB Gunnar Holcombe, 6-3, 190, University (Fla.) School
Badgernation.com's take: In a normal year, the Badgers might consider taking a second quarterback after last year's problems. Holcombe, who was a teammate with current UW freshman Devin Gaulden, is going to be a solid player somewhere, but UW cut off communication after the Houston verbal. After heading into last season as the team's starting quarterback, only to come down with an intestinal virus that made him bedridden and derailed his season, Holcombe has put the 20 pounds of weight he lost back on and heads into his senior season feeling the most complete he has in his high school career.
Three-star RB Dami Alooya, 5-10, 195, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High
Badgernation.com's take: As one of the leaders on the Raiders, Ayoola is a big recruiting name in Florida, especially after his junior season when he had 855 total yards. Stepping into the starting role after former Aquinas running back James White left to go to Wisconsin, Ayoola has been the big means of offense for a team that puts up a number of numbers. Ayoola doesn't know where Wisconsin views him, but he still views the Badgers as one of his favorites.
RB Leo Musso, 5-10, 190, Waunakee (Wis.) High
Badgernation.com's take: Musso shown throughout his junior season that size is not his big disadvantage. In helping Waunakee to another WIAA Division 2 Championship, Musso rushed for 2,005 yards, an average of 8.1 yards per carry, and 35 touchdowns last season. He also placed in the top five in the SPARQ combine in March, testing a 4.12 in the pro agility, 40 inches in the vertical jump, 39.5 feet in the power ball toss and 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Wisconsin has taken fliers on undersized kids before that play above their size (see Chris Borland) but it appears a route to UW would have to be as a preferred walk-on or grayshirt.
Who is already gone
Once the Badgers got their quarterback, Wisconsin was content and stopped recruiting Wes Lunt, a quarterback from Rochester (Ill) that OC Paul Chryst liked. Lunt liked UW as well but when the Badgers weren't an option, he found his spot at Oklahoma State. Wisconsin also dabbled with five-star quarterbacks Gunner Kiel (undecided) and Zeke Pike (Auburn), but interest was never there.
The Badgers were after plenty of talented running backs, but wanted all of them to play different positions. Wisconsin pursued Georgia's Nick Tompkins and Holcombe's teammate MacGarrett Kings and tried to get them both to look at the defensive side of the ball. They thought about it but both committed to Michigan State as running backs. There are in-state players Marcus Horne (Milwaukee), Joe Schobert (Waukesha) and Toneo Gulley (Kenosha) also on the market, but the Badgers' interest in the three of them in slim to none at this point.