Q: D.J. Gillins is a big verbal commitment from Wisconsin, but Scout/Fox Sports Next is the only major recruiting site to list him as a three-star prospect. Why is that and what does he have to do become a four-star player?
A: From Scott Kennedy, who is Scout's Director of Scouting: I saw Gillins at the Elite 11 tryout in Atlanta the past two seasons. He was one of the top three quarterbacks here in 2012 as a sophomore. I saw him again this spring and didn't realize he was less than a year removed tearing an ACL. Because what I saw was a player that had regressed, he lacked the zip on his arm that he showed as a sophomore, and just didn't seem as fluid out there. My evaluation was probably correct, but turns out there was a valid reason for it. If he can get back on the path he was trending when we first saw him in 2012, and recover from his injury, he can be a very physically gifted thrower with a tight compact release and live arm on a good frame.
UW has already made a splash at Dematha Catholic by getting Taiwan Deal and is in the top lists for both Chris Jones and Cameron Phillips. What are the chances Jones and Phillips follow Deal and want kind of players do they project to be on the next level?
A: From Brian Dohn, who is Scout's National Analyst on the East Coast: Phillips has Wisconsin in the top six and he really likes the school, and having Deal in his ear all the time will help. Phillips was impressive when I saw him a few weeks ago. I liked his speed and acceleration, and he was comfortable catching the ball in tight spots.
As for Jones, I do not see him as being as developed as Phillips. Jones needs to get stronger and his size will be an issue in college. He also likes Wisconsin, but I don't know if Wisconsin is pushing as hard for him as it is for Phillips.
Q: Has Wisconsin filled needs with their commitments so far?
A: From Benjamin Worgull, publisher of Badger Nation: Without question, but there are a lot of needs in the class. Wisconsin was looking for 5-6 offensive linemen, 1-2 running backs, 2-3 wide receivers, a quarterback, a couple of linebackers and 3-4 of defensive backs. Basically, you try to replenish every position group in each class. And while Wisconsin has made large strides in the last three weeks with filling some of those gaps, UW desperately needs receivers and DBs moving forward.
What do you think of the chances with Jamil Kamara? Initially, I thought UW was going to be a sleeper but some big names dropped off his list recently and the other six in his top 7 seem very beatable. Any feel for how much distance will play a role? UW certainly seems to stack up well in terms of PT, program success, and academics.
A: From Michael Clark, who covers Southern Virginia and the Carolinas: Landing Kamara will be tough. He has recently visited N.C. State and Pittsburgh and both visits went extremely well. Right now, I think his top schools are N.C State, Virginia and Pittsburgh. However, Wisconsin wide receivers coach Chris Beatty, who was a very successful high school coach in the Virginia Beach area, helps the Badger's chances. The key will be to get him on campus as soon as possible.
Christian Byrum has a lot of big offers but he isn't ranked. What kind of player is he, what are his strengths and does Wisconsin have a chance with him??
A: From Clark: I think Byrum will be ranked at some point. He is a physical safety in the secondary. He runs well, has good instincts and a knack for making big plays. He has a top six of Boston College, Duke, North Carolina State, Old Dominion, Syracuse and Wisconsin, and N.C. State and Old Dominion are his top two schools. Like Kamara, a thing in the Badger's favor is Chris Beatty. Byrum has a very good relationship with Beatty. I expect him to take an official visit to Wisconsin, which will be huge. That visit will go a long way towards helping Wisconsin land him.
Have you heard any news on Jon Bezney? I was under the impression that he was announcing last Friday.
A: From Dave Berk, who covers the Midwest: He said he's still looking at some schools before making a decision. It would not surprise me if he ends up going Ivy League in the end. But if he goes Division 1 this is a race between Wisconsin and Vanderbilt. He's been trying to see if Stanford has any interest as they would also be a school of high interest.
Should we really be counting on Craig Evans, given that he is still shopping? I did not get much comfort from that article you guys had.
A: From Allen Trieu, who is Scout's National Analyst in the Midwest: It's going to be a nervous situation until he signs, but I really think it would be an upset if UW didn't get his signature. This is based on some inside info I got off the record. I think he'll look and will want to enjoy the process, and I do think he likes Michigan State a lot, but ultimately, it will be tough to pull him away from the Badgers.
Getting compliments to Wheelwright should be a big priority to this staff. What WR's does it feel like the Badgers are targeting the most?
A: From Worgull: In the last five months the Wisconsin coaching staff has grabbed verbal commitments from three impressive quarterbacks: Tanner McEvoy, Austin Kafentzis and D.J. Gillins. That will mean nothing, however, if those passers have nobody to pass to. Jalen Brown, who visited last month, and Kamara are the top two targets. Each have Wisconsin in their respective top lists, but both will be hard pulls. The Dematha duo of Chris Jones and Cameron Phillips also has UW in their top groups, and I think Phillips would be a great steal.
One receiver I really like are Power Springs (GA) Hillgrove senior Emanuel Beal. Beal released his top five Monday – Kansas State, Kentucky, Missouri, UCF and Wisconsin. The Badgers have been staying active with him and has real good size to play the position.
Q: Joe Mixon coming out to Wisconsin for three days is big, but how big is it in the grand scheme of his recruitment? Do the Badgers have a realistic chance?
A: From Greg Biggins, who covers Southern California for Scout: I think it's pretty big when you consider he's paying his own dime to come out and visit and doing it right before he makes another cut to his list is important as well. I don't think Joe has a leader right now and I think he's still open to all schools. If the visit goes well, not only do I think Wisconsin has a good chance to make his next cut but could position themselves to be on his short list all the way through his recruitment..
Do we have a shot at 4/5 star players for 2014??
A: From Worgull: Yeah, there is a shot, and some players in the mix will be adding starts in the next two months. If I had to pick who Wisconsin has a shot with, I'd say Mixon, Ainuu Taua, Jalen Brown, Jamil Kamara, Tegray Scales, Kaleb McGary and Chris James.