To tap in to some of that knowledge, Badger Nation's new subscriber series will go around the country to ask the questions that impact Wisconsin recruiting. This week, we go into Ohio and parts of Indiana with Ohio recruiting analyst Bill Greene.
BN: Before jumping into your true area of expertise, I want to ask you about four-star linebacker Tim Kimbrough from Indianapolis. He was offered by UW during the school's junior day and you've seen him quite a bit. What are your general impressions of him?
Greene: Well he's not a combine kid. First and foremost when you see him in shorts and t-shirts, he doesn't blow you away like some kids do. He's a pure football player. He is probably in the 6-1 range between 220 and 225 pounds now. He's a thick kid. He's a nice looking kid, and Tim is just a football player. That system that he plays in (at) Warren Central is a great program, and plays at a high level, makes him physically tough. He has good physical skills and he can really hit. He doesn't miss tackles. He's so fundamentally solid – where some guys will go for that big highlight hit and miss four or five attempts – that he is consistent and dependable. You can see why everybody has offered him. He's really smart, and there's a lot to like about him. He'll get into a college weight program and get a lot stronger. He's good in coverage, good tackler against the run, can move sideline to sideline … there ‘s nothing not to like about him.
BN: What schools do you think have the best chance to get his verbal commitment? A lot of UW fans think he is a long shot to come here?
Greene: I think he's a Big Ten kid. Just from talking with him, he doesn't seem like a kid that is going to go 2,000 miles from home. He's going to get offered by those schools. The SEC schools are going to offer him, but I think he's a Big Ten kid. Maybe a Michigan State-type kid if I had to throw a school out there. They might be a leader for him, but I think Wisconsin has a shot. I really don't see him staying in-state to play for Purdue or Indiana. I see him shooting a little higher than that. He likes Michigan State and they are a good fit for him, but it's early for him.
BN: Getting into Ohio, that's been Joe Rudolph's territory for a long time and they are now in a transition phase to wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni. They've offered a couple kids out there and one of them is Archbishop Alter QB Malik Zaire. Can UW land this kid?
Greene: See, I had Malik having Wisconsin as a heavy favorite before the coaching change. When the coaching deal happened, that torched everything up. Awhile ago, I thought they were also in good shape with Shelton Gibson (OG from Cleveland) until the Kyle Dodson thing fell apart, but the coaching change put UW behind on both kids.
Greene: No, not at all. He's kind of a wild card in terms of recruiting. He visited Wisconsin with Dodson, I believe, awhile ago and he loved it. Then he visited Auburn in the winter time and absolutely fell in love with Auburn. He was actually planning on committing to Auburn. He went to the Alabama game, came home and he told me he was going to be committing there within the next week. It was going to be over and done with. That coincided with the time that Urban Meyer got hired at Ohio State and Meyer offered him. A lot of people thought he offered Gibson to get Dodson. Urban has turned Gibson's head for sure, but I don't think he's a lock for Ohio State. He's a kid that everywhere he visits, he falls in love with that place. You never know with him.
BN: What's your impression of Walnut Ridge wide receiver Rob Wheelwright, who got his first offer from Wisconsin back in June and has picked up seven BCS offers since?
Greene: When we do our Ohio rankings, which is a three-man collaborative combination, Wheelwright was a kid we ranked in the top eight in Ohio. No doubt about it. Wheelwright is not a blazer – he's not that type of kid – but he's fundamentally sound, runs great routes, is going to get bigger than 170 pounds, is going to be a physical wide receiver and he fits with the receivers Wisconsin puts out there.
I like him a lot. It's a strong year for Ohio. If you are top 20 guy in Ohio right now, especially a top 10 guy, you're someone we think highly of. I don't think he'll be deciding soon. I think he'll get a lot more offers and will be out there for the taking. I just think Wisconsin fits his style of play. He's not a slot guy at all, so I can see him fitting into a pro-style offense. They could definitely land him, as I don't think there is one school way ahead for him.
BN: What do you know about Centerville defensive tackle Brant Gressel, who is starting to heat up the recruiting trail a little bit?
Greene: He's just blowing up now like crazy. I haven't seen him in person, but his film is really impressive. He's a real sleeper process. He came up in our ranking meetings and none of us had seen him in person. He's adding offers like crazy and he's a guy that hasn't been touched by this recruiting process and much as some other kids. He's a new guy on the scene and he's an impressive kid.
BN: Who are some other kids that UW might go after?
Greene: I tell you I thought they had a great shot at Ross Douglas (cornerback from Avon, OH) who committed to Penn State. He was going to visit Wisconsin this week and they had a shot at him. I was kind of surprised he made a commitment so soon. UW has been talking to Kofi Hill (QB from Lewis Center, OH), Elijah Bell (WR from Akron, OH) and Alex Gall (OL from Cincinnati), but I don't think they'll offer any of those guys right away. I think Urban is done with offensive linemen and won't take anybody else from Ohio, so there are 10 other tackles and guards in Ohio like Gall who are good players that will end up in the Big Ten somewhere.
BN: What's the big shift Wisconsin is going to have to do have getting high-ranked kids like Austin Traylor, A.J. Jordan, etc. under the old coaching staff to Azzanni, who has some ties to Meyer and to the state of Ohio?
Greene: That's a good question because Rudolph did do a great job. The one thing about Wisconsin's recruiting is, and I think Azzanni will do the same thing as Rudolph did, is take the three-star kids they evaluate so well and turn them into an All-American. They remind me of Michigan State and Mark Dantonio. Jerel Wothly, Brandon Rush, Chris Borland – these are kids that get overlooked. Rudolph was really good at identify kids that other schools maybe didn't see and they would turn out to be really good football players. That's what I always like about both programs and we'll have to see if Azzanni can target that under-the-radar kid that becomes a three year starter and plays in the NFL.