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Who do you think should start for the Badgers at quarterback?
Let me preface this question by saying that I honestly don't know who Wisconsin is going to start on Saturday. We do know from reports that Joel Stave took the majority of reps with the first-team offense during Tuesday's practice and O'Brien took snaps with the second team. If Bret Bielema makes the switch by starting Stave, I would be surprised, especially with the amount of effort Wisconsin went through to get O'Brien on to campus.
O'Brien was phenomenal during fall camp and has looked nothing like that player in the last two games. Obviously if O'Brien practiced how he has played recently in fall camp, he wouldn't be starting. Stave is incredibly young and inexperienced in game situations, so I wouldn't be surprised if Stave got some work in on Saturday against UTEP. I think this is a game where Wisconsin's offensive line would perform better because the Miners have not been proficient at stopping the opponent's running game yet.
If I am a fan and I had to pick which quarterback I wanted to start in two weeks at Nebraska, I would pick O'Brien … for now.
What's James White's mindset? For the last two years, he's been an afterthought by the Wisconsin coaching staff.
He's fine, which is a credit to him considering most competitors wouldn't be so understanding about the situation. White told me that the Badgers' offense really hasn't gotten into a flow yet, which caused everybody else to be disjointed with what they are trying to accomplish. White is patently waiting his turn, which I think could come this weekend. I think the running game is going to have a breakout game.
Who do you think is going to be the next commit for the 2014 class?
To be quite honest, I would have said Craig Evans had I posted the mailbag yesterday. Evans had been toying with committing to Wisconsin for some time, a point he reiterated to me when we spoke in person following his game against Janesville Craig. He originally said he wanted to wait until after the season but the more he looked at it, for those who haven't read the story, he saw that Wisconsin's 2014 recruiting class could be something special and he wanted to join in. He's right, as all five of these guys have the potential to be four-star recruits when the initial rankings are released.
So who's next? I say both Brian Allen (OL from Hinsdale, Ill.) and Troy Vincent (North Bethesda, MD) will both be a part of this class, and I'll say Allen comes first. Vincent knows a lot about Wisconsin with his dad (Troy Sr.) having played for the Badgers. When we talked to him, Vincent gave an impression that he was going to take his time and look at multiple schools, especially saying all his offered schools were even. Wisconsin has an advantage because of the family ties and that UW was the first school to really start recruiting him.
Allen does have a brother that plays for Michigan State, but he also has family ties to Wisconsin.
"My grandpa and great uncle played for the Badgers but I never got to meet them because they both passed away before I was born," Allen told us. "My grandma wants me to go to Madison. She just tells me how great Madison is and how much she enjoyed watching my grandpa play in Camp Randall when they were going to Wisconsin."
Allen has been to Wisconsin multiple times and has developed a good relationship with Chris Ash. Wisconsin has had a lot of recent success recruiting linemen from Illinois, so he'll be my pick, but I don't think the Badgers will get a verbal commitment from a 2014 player anytime soon unless something drastic happens.
How serious are the Wisconsin coaches in David Yancey? Could he be next in line for a scholarship?
Well, the blunt answer was serious enough to invite him up for an unofficial visit, but not serious enough to offer him a scholarship. Wisconsin has seen a lot of Yancey over the past year from meet-and-greet situations to camp performances, but obviously haven't seen enough to warrant offering a scholarship. To me, Yancey is a pure ‘plan B' guy in case Wisconsin loses out on Alex Collins, David Williams and Corey Clement. Yancey told me that he's firmly committed to Purdue, but any new offers would certainly give him something to think about. That leads me to believe that if Wisconsin offers, the Badgers would certainly be in the mix.
I don't think that will happen. From talking to a couple people, I think Clement has built a real solid relationship with the UW coaching staff and running back coach Thomas Hammock. The fact that he was willing to reschedule his visit to allow his parents to come with him tells me he's serious enough about Wisconsin and the direction of the program to get a second opinion. Williams and Collins have been quiet, so it's hard to gauge where they are at. Even with the injury to Vonte Jackson and the increased number of scholarships UW has in this class because of transfers, I think UW only takes one running back.
What's the story with Jester Weah? Will he or won't he get a scholarship offer?
I believe he will, and it could come as early as next weekend. Weah doesn't have to go far to visit the school (Madison Memorial High is about 10 minutes away from Camp Randall) and that has allowed him plenty of opportunities to come on unofficial visits and talk to the coaching staff. Throw in the fact that UW has more scholarships to work with and needs quality depth at the wide receiver position, Weah is a prime candidate.
Through three games, Weah ranked ninth in the state with 111 receiving yards per game. Against Madison West, Weah hauled in eight catches for 173 yards (21.6-yard average) and a touchdown. Weah will be coming against this weekend on an unofficial visit, so he is certainly making his presence felt around campus.
The answer to both of your questions is ‘yes.' I talked to one person close to the situation following Brown's commitment and he told me, ‘four down, one to go.' Although Wisconsin currently is sitting at 13 scholarship offers for the 2013-14 season, the Badgers can still rearrange Zak Showalter's scholarship. If you remember, we reported after Showalter received the offer from a source who told us that Showalter would be on scholarship unless the coaching staff found a high-level player who fit into their system. That appears to be the case with Hayes. After all, every scholarship is renewed on a yearly basis – from Josh Gasser to Sam Dekker to Duje Dukan.
In my opinion, Hayes was a long shot to come to Wisconsin after Ohio State offered, but I think the Badgers have really improved their stock following his official visit to Wisconsin on September 1. He played pick-up ball with the guys, spent time getting to know the coaching staff and his in-home visit with Lamont Paris and Bo Ryan went really well (he reportedly played video games with the two coaches). I still don't think Wisconsin is the favorite for Hayes, especially with trips to Stanford and Ohio State coming up and Minnesota making a strong push, but the Badgers have to feel good with what they have presented to him.
Is there more to the story with Kyle Washington not having Wisconsin in his top five? I thought he loved the Badgers …
I did, too, which was why I was so confident to say Washington would end up in Madison. According to a source, Washington was supposed to visit the Badgers unofficially for the football season opener. The source told me that the week prior to Washington's scheduled visit, associate head coach Greg Gard repeatedly called and texted Washington without a response. As one person told me, ‘It's kind of like the Tokoto situation.' Needless to say, at least one person at Wisconsin feels something shady went on and that the conversation between Washington and the UW coaching staff – the one where he thanked them for recruiting him – was an odd one. UW's coaches have already moved on, but it was a bizarre twist in what had been a good relationship between coaches and player.