The Chart: 2013 Defensive Line

After missing out on one premier defensive end 30 minutes from campus, Wisconsin reels in one premier defensive end from one of its in-state pipelines. With a couple playmakers still on the board, Wisconsin seems anxious to add another disruptor to the mix. Badger Nation looks at the position.

MADISON - Even on a crummy day weather wise, Chikwe Obasih still wanted to be at Wisconsin. That according to him was the signal that it was time to end his recruitment.

Getting the full court press by the staff during the spring game, the 6-4, 230-pound Obasih chose the Badgers at the end of April because of their program, their academics and how his Brookfield Central school has a rich tradition of sending players west on I-94 to the state's only Division 1 school.

"I come from a school that's produced a lot of Badgers, so a lot of people think I should be there," Obasih told us. "The past couple weeks, I had to decide if I wanted to be there or if I was brought up to be there and I realized that I want to be there."

Smart enough academically to earn scholarships from Vanderbilt and Yale, Obasih finished his junior season with 67 tackles (32 solos), 13 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two sacks and couldn't find a place that equaled Wisconsin on his trips to various colleges like Illinois and Michigan State.

With the Badgers adding a pass rusher that will be a solid contributor down the road, Wisconsin appears to be looking for a defensive tackle to help clog the middle. In our Badger Nation series, here is who we view as Badgers targets (interest listed implies to the prospect's interest in Wisconsin).

Top of the List

Four-star defensive tackle Darius Latham (North Central HS, Indianapolis)

Although he came to North Central as a basketball player, Latham was convinced by his head coach that he was a better college football prospect. Having grabbed over 16 scholarship offers throughout the process, Latham is now a believer, as he has turned into an inside-outside 285-pound player that brings a physical presence.

"He is a rare combination," head coach Keith Shelton said in February. "He's got the size at 6'5, 280-285-lbs, but he has great feet. He's on the basketball team down here that's won state and been to semi-state. He's started every game since his first day in basketball, as a freshman, as a center, and then he's just very very fluid, He's very athletic, but he's also strong. He carries his weight well. It fits his frame. Some of the guys, they're a little surprised to see him on film, because they see his dimensions and they wonder how he'll move and he just moves well. I think that's what excites them."

A leader on the field and a 3.0 student in the classroom, Latham's top five reflects schools of academic and talent - Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Florida and Wisconsin have visited the school to watch him workout and has visited the five schools on his final list.

"They have been bowl games consecutively the last 10 years," said Latham of Wisconsin. "That's a plus."

Latham says he wants to major in sports management and whether that school has that program or not will affect his decision. He plans to make his commitment before his senior season, and the Badgers have an outside shot at earning his verbal.

Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium interest

Defensive tackle Monty Nelson (Plantation HS, Plantation, Fla.)

Finishing his junior season with 45 tackles, 10 sacks and nine forced fumbles, scouts describe Nelson as a space eater. With his 320-pound size clogging interiors, it's easy to see why, as it's not easy to move his mammoth body in one-on-one drills. He defines himself as naturally explosive, which comes from a combination of a lot of hours in the gym and on the school's wrestling team.

"The hard work has helped a lot," Nelson told us. "I've put a lot of hard work into it with my natural instincts. You mix those two things, you can be dangerous. In wrestling, you can't hide behind 10 other guys, so it makes you be aggressive."

Indiana, Wake Forest and West Virginia have all offers Nelson and he's developed a good relationship with defensive line coach Charlie Partridge since the Badgers started recruiting him a few months ago.

"From watching those guys on television, I love to watch them because they offensive and defensive line are massive at the line of scrimmage," Nelson told us about Wisconsin. "That's how they've won a lot of football game. They love to get down in the trenches and I like that."

Nelson said he'd prefer to play college football out of state in order to get a new, different experience. With how he views his current programs, it appears his decision currently will be between West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium to medium-high interest

Three-star defensive end Alec James (Brookfield East HS, Brookfield, Wis.)

In 33 years of coaching, Brookfield East head coach Tom Swittel knows exactly where he ranks 6-4, 225-pound James on his list of favorites.

"He's the best athlete I have ever coached," said Swittel.

It's the reason why so many Wisconsin recruiting fans currently rank James as the top prospect on their want list. While James plays primarily at defensive end for East (where he recorded 86 tackles and 12.5 sacks last season), Swittel says Wisconsin is looking at James at multiple positions, including tight end, because of his versatility.

"Coach Bielema said I was ready to play there," James told us after being offered following UW's junior day in February. "They said I fit in perfectly athletic wise, the way I carry myself and my personality all was a good fit for Wisconsin. It was a lot of surprise and excitement because I had never talked to Coach Bielema face to face. I have seen him and said bight before, but I never sat down and talked to him, got to know what he was liked and looked into his eyes before. I enjoyed talking to him. He seems like a knowledge coach that knows what he's doing."

The Wisconsin offered following Iowa State, Minnesota and Western Michigan but preceded offers from Clemson, Illinois Michigan State and Notre Dame. James says his top three, in no order, are the Badgers, the Irish and the Spartans and wants to make his decision sometime in the next two months. That may be a challenge, as James said he was looking to learn more about Clemson and maybe get some interest from the SEC. In a word, James is taking his recruitment day by day.

James knows the Badgers are currently holding a spot for him, allowing him to take his time, but many feel he's favoring UW and it's only a matter of time.

Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium to medium-high interest

Note: The Badgers have offered four-star New Jersey defensive tackle Greg Webb (Penn State commit), five-star Florida defensive end Joey Bosa (Ohio State commit) and four-star Milton (Wis.) defensive end A.J. Natter (Nebraska commit) but there is no longer any interest.

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