After losing four offensive linemen to Notre Dame and two to Michigan, the Badgers suffered their biggest blow of the recruiting period when Lemont (Ill.) HS junior Ethan Pocic surprised many by committing to LSU at the end of May.
Since earning his UW offer at the team's camp last summer, Pocic had been one of the top targets by defensive coordinator Chris Ash and company, perhaps as high as number one because of how often the Wisconsin coaches got Pocic on to campus.
Even with the heavy loses Wisconsin has suffered on the offensive line at the hands of other schools, the Badgers coaches should still be excited by the verbal commitment of Barrington (Ill.) lineman Jack Keeler, who committed shortly after the UW spring game.
"There is really no better school for linemen," Keeler told us. "It's one of the best academic schools in the country. I love their tradition."
Keeler visited Wisconsin for the first time in February for the school's junior day, and he left feeling that Madison could be his final destination. Keeler was impressed with how the city had a hometown feel, how friendly the people were and how much academic help the university gives its student athletes.
Now that Keeler is in the mix, the Badgers are in ‘greed' mode and are looking for one more elite prospect to add to the offensive line position. 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
Three-star tackle Hayden Biegel (Wisconsin Rapids HS, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.)
"I got to the point where I didn't weight as much as I needed to weigh to be successful," Biegel said. "I take one in the morning, one at lunch, one after I workout and one before I go to bed. The big thing for me is to put on as much weight as I can to help me at my position while still keeping my speed."
The weight has already made him a more attractive option to college coaches. Picking up offers from North Dakota and Illinois, Biegel got a huge offer in mid March when Wisconsin offered him a grayshirt opportunity. With the Badgers low on scholarship numbers, UW wants Biegel to enroll in January 2014, allowing him an extra semester to build his body without losing a year of eligibility.
"I kind of like the grayshirt opportunity," Biegel told us. "It allows me to put some more weight on. I am definitely underweight and grayshirting would get me the opportunity to gain weight, which is what I really need to do."
The question is now whether the Badgers will need to ramp up their offer to a full scholarship. Since offering him a grayshirt, Biegel has exploded on the recruiting front and has picked up offers from Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State and Michigan State. Biegel is going to camp at Wisconsin this weekend and if he performs well, could the Badgers extend him a full offer?
If they do, Biegel will likely commit. If they don't, Biegel still may pick UW eventually (he has said the grayshirt option doesn't matter to him), but may take longer because he plans to take visits. We should know sooner rather than later.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium-high to high interest
Three-star guard Scott Quessenberry (La Costa Canyon HS, Encinitas, CA)
A talented two-way player, Wisconsin made an impression on him when he visited unofficially for the spring game, as he lauded the new facilities the school is building for their athletes and praised Bielema for meeting with him for roughly 30 minutes on a hectic day.
Quessenberry initially said Nebraska, San Diego State, UCLA and Wisconsin were his top four, but that has been thrown out the window since Arkansas, California, Oregon and Washington offered. His goal now this summer is to visit the schools within driving distance and take his official visits to the farther schools.
Quessenberry plans on taking official visits to both Lincoln and Madison before making his decision, which will likely come after the football season. Even with all the new interest, still consider the Badgers major players in his recruitment.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium-high to high interest
Three-star guard Brad Henson (Monsignor Donovan HS, Toms River, NJ)
"They get a lot of offensive linemen to the pros, which is a big selling point," Henson told us. "They also won the Big Ten the last two years, which is impressive."
Henson wants to visit Wisconsin sometime this summer and said he wants to make his decision before his senior season. He also plans to visit Georgia, Georgia Tech (where his uncle played), South Carolina and Tennessee.
"South Carolina offered me a few months and I wanted to get down there for a while," Henson said. "I was kind of a Georgia fan growing up and I them on TV against Georgia, so I have seen them. Tennessee is pretty much the same deal. I know they have a beautiful stadium there."
The visits Georgia and Georgia Tech will be a bit more personal because of Henson's familiarity with each play.
"I have family right in Athens, so I know they area," Henson said. "I grew up a Georgia Tech fan. I have family right there. Back in the ‘70s my uncle played for them."
Wisconsin has a shot but my guess is that Henson plays somewhere in the south.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium to medium-high interest
Three-star guard Sean Harlow (San Clemente HS, San Clemente, CA)
"Obviously it's a great offer with the school having won a lot of games, been to the Rose Bowl two times in a row and have a phenomenal offensive line that plays tough football," Harlow told us. "Those guys really know how to play."
The same can be said of the 6-5, 260-pound Harlow, who is ranked the No.21 guard in the country by Scout.com. The son of former USC offensive lineman Pat Harlow, the film of Sean impressed both linebackers coach Andy Buh and offensive line coach Mike Markuson when they visited him during the spring evaluation period.
Harlow said he wants to visit Wisconsin, but both Huffman and I agree that he's a long shot to commit to Wisconsin with his ties to USC and Los Angeles. You never know in recruiting, but the Badgers have a better shot elsewhere it appears.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium interest
Next in Line
Three-star tackle Aaron Cochran (Buhach Colony HS, Atwater, CA)
He visited Wisconsin in April to kick off a four-city tour and although he was impressed with the Badgers, he didn't spend a ton of time at the school compared to his other stops. He also didn't get a chance to meet with UW coach Bret Bielema and offensive line coach Mike Markuson, probably the two people qualified to offer him.
Fox Sports' Brandon Huffman predicted Cochran will end up in California because of the Bears signing his older brother. Whether he ends up, it doesn't appear it will be at Wisconsin at this point.
Status: No Offered Scholarship – Medium to medium-low interest
Three-star guard Alex Gall (Moeller HS, Cincinnati, OH)
Wanting to hopefully make his decision by the end of June or early July, Gall has a top five of Kentucky, Miami, Michigan State, North Carolina and Wisconsin, impressive for the Spartans and the Badgers considering those two schools haven't offered.
"They are in need right now and said they usually don't offer many guys without camp," Gall said of Wisconsin. "They said of the ten guys they have there right now, only one didn't go to camp. I might go up to camp there, but I'm not sure yet."
It's unclear if Gall is going to camp or just visit Wisconsin, but the Badgers are certainly in play … especially since Gall loves UW enough despite no offer.
Status: No Offered Scholarship – Medium-high to high interest
Note: The Badgers have offered four-star Illinois tackle Colin McGovern (Notre Dame commit) and Ethan Pocic (LSU), four-star Michigan tackle Steven Elmer (Notre Dame commit), four-star Illinois tackle Logan Tuley-Tillman (Michigan commit), four-star Kentucky tackle Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame commit), four-star Philadelphia tackle Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame commit) but there is no longer any interest.