In his first season at Wisconsin, Hammock was able to ink St. Peter's Prep (N.J.) four-star safety D.J. Singleton, and made positive strides in recruiting New Jersey, Maryland and Philadelphia that give the Badgers real hope to land some more East Coast talent.
Having extended upwards of a dozen offers on the East Coast, Badger Nation checks in with East Coast recruiting analyst Brian Dohn to get insight on some of the region's top uncommitted prospects who UW is recruiting.
You broke the story that Anthony Averett picked up a Wisconsin offer, who was the Badgers latest offer to an East Coast kid. Tell me a little bit about him, what you like about him and about his recruitment?
Dohn: I think Anthony is a kid, who a lot like (Rutgers 2011 commit) Miles Shuler who ran really well during the indoor track season and his recruitment took off. I had talked to Anthony about that after he won the 55 meters. That's what programs want. They want speed. As far as a cornerback, he's not terribly refined. It's a little bit of a work in progress, but he's a legit 6-foot, 175 pounds. By the time he gets to college he'll be about 190. It'll take a little bit of time to develop as a football player, but programs want speed and length. That's what he has and why he's been getting a lot of offers lately.
Dohn: I don't know if any of them could play as a freshman, but I think Tre Bell is the most advanced. Tre plays a lot of corner at St. Peter's. He's long, he runs, he understands the game well and he's more of a pure corner right now. Averett is still learning the position, getting used to it and doesn't play against the best competition and Damon Mitchell is a kid that plays quarterback and has played running back. He is a kid that still wants to give quarterback a shot, but he's a kid that is going to have to learn the cornerback position. I think Averett is second on the list, but they all probably would have to redshirt.
Where do you think Mitchell is best suited at the college level?
Dohn: I think he's a safety. I think a safety who runs well enough that you can put him in the free safety spot and let him roam a little bit. He's got the size that he will hit you and the size to come up and play in the box. Wisconsin folks know D.J. Singleton as a safety. I think D.J. is more prepared to play physical and closer to the line of scrimmage. Damon is a kid who is going to play back a little bit further until he really learns that position well and understands it. Up until this point, what people have seen from Damon Mitchell is more on the offensive side and project for what he could be defensively.
You talked about Bell a little bit. What do you like about him and how much do you think is relationship with Singleton or any of his former teammates will have an impact on his recruitment?
Dohn: First off, I think the reason I think he is close to playing is because he has good length and he is a good competitor. He'll hit you in the line and run with you. His recruitment started off slow and with the way recruiting has advanced, slow means only a couple offers before February. The reason was he had a 40-yard dash time that wasn't very good – probably close to 5.0. I don't look at Tre Bell and say he's a ‘can't miss' kid yet. He has a lot to prove still, but he does have an immense about a talent.
When it comes to his relationships, I think the biggest factor is his relationship with Brandon Napoleon, the cornerback who went to West Virginia. I don't see D.J. Singleton being the kind of kid who is going to sit there and recruit Tre Bell hard to Wisconsin. He'll answer questions if Bell has them, but that's not his personality or his role at St. Peter's being a vocal guy. He was just a kid who played and played hard. Talking to Tre a lot, I don't get the sense he's going to be swayed by what other people say.
Outside linebacker Buddy Brown has expressed interest in Wisconsin and has a good relationship with Hammock. Talk about his recruitment a little bit and maybe a scouting report on what you like about him?
Dohn: Buddy is a kid who runs well and can come off the edge, especially on a blitz. He does have the length to cover. His strength is more headed toward the line of scrimmage. As far as Wisconsin, I don't know Buddy is at that level to play defensively yet. He's has to prove some things with his athleticism a little bit more. That's not a slight on Buddy but more of that's where Wisconsin is as a program. He has a bunch of good offers, but I also think Buddy is a kid that when push comes to shove he'll want to stay closer to home.
Quarterback is the big story around here with Danny O'Brien coming from Maryland and the Badgers will be hosting New Jersey QB Kevin Olsen. Is he the kind of guy that will give UW a really good consideration?
Dohn: I am kind of curious on the visit because I have Kevin Olson pegged for Miami in all honesty. The family has been through a couple of these recruiting processes and when they are visiting places, his dad is a very successful high school coach in North Jersey. They are only visiting places where they feel they fit that offense. It's got to be pro style, he's got to be under center and it has to be a cerebral type of offense to deal with it. In Wisconsin's offense, you just need to manage the game really well. Knowing that he's going out there, yeah I'd give Wisconsin a chance because the family has been adamant about taking a trip to Wisconsin. I don't think location matters. It doesn't like he doesn't mind playing in cold weather or anything like that. He likes the Big Ten and a lot of throws he makes with his high school team are short passes. He didn't throw the ball down the field much, but I've seen him enough where I know he has a very strong arm, he's a smart kid and he will develop more as a passer. What he does fits Wisconsin's offense.
Running back David Williams made headlines recently when he picked a new high school after his old one shut down. Talk about his running style, his game and how he could fit in to an offense like Wisconsin?
Dohn: He's a great kid and I've told David this, even though I don't think it's going to happen, he would be a remarkable cornerback. You look at his running style, he is a between the tackles type of kid. He's going to have to get thicker in his body. He's going to have to hit the weight room harder. I don't think he's a kid that can come into a program like Wisconsin and play right away. He's got a big frame and he's got very good acceleration, vision and feet. I've seen him play a few times and they didn't use him to run to the outside very much. He runs tough between the tackles and when I think of Wisconsin, that's what I think of. I know David is open to going a bunch of different places, but I can tell you Penn State is making an incredibly hard push. The new staff at Penn State is talking about a lot of Pennsylvania kids and telling them to stay home, get Penn State back to what it was and represent your state school. I can tell you David is feeling that strong push.
If Wisconsin can get him out there, there is something about Wisconsin that when kids come to visit, some of them just fall in love with it immediately, especially kids from the East Coast and the New Jersey area. There's just something they really like that is different than what they are used to and they really embrace it. David wants to wait awhile, so I think Wisconsin has a chance to get him on campus for an official visit. If you are a running back and have a big frame like David, you got to look at Wisconsin with what they do in the running game.
How much of an impact do you think Hammock has had with the high school coaches on the East Coast when recruiting for Wisconsin
Dohn: I think the impact he has is the coaches trust him. The kids don't know him well until they start dealing with him, but the coaches are really influential with telling the kids who they can trust. The coach at St. Peter's trusts Hammock, so he had no problem sending Singleton there. That's the big that as long as that trust factor exists between coaches, it filters down to the kids. If you are good at something and the longer you are in one place doing something, you are going to get better and better. From a familiarity standpoint, if a coach knows who is recruiting an area for Wisconsin, that's going to help.
Of all these kids, who do you think Wisconsin has a good chance of landing?
Dohn: That's a tough one because when I look at this, I don't think there is one kid locked in to Wisconsin. Just in talking to these kids and knowing them and knowing who they are looking at, I would say Damon Mitchell – although Rutgers has done an unbelievable job in recruiting him – loves Wisconsin. Kevin Olson without question has interest, but I don't really know beyond that. David Williams likes the running back situation, but I mentioned Penn State recruiting him. When I talk to Tre Bell about where he is visiting, we don't really talk about Wisconsin much.