In one recruiting cycle, Wisconsin and head coach Gary Andersen made a statement to how important the state of Florida was to the long-term success of the program. The Badgers inked seven natives of the state in the 2014 recruiting class, more than any other state, including Wisconsin.
There’s tons of high school talent throughout the country, but there is no question where Andersen and his staff think most of the talent lies. Wisconsin has unofficially offered over 200 high school players in the class of 2015 and over a quarter of those prospects reside in the state of Florida.
Of that group, the Badgers have received two commitments from two prospects with high upside and have a chance to land several more before signing day.
Andrew James: Wide receiver suddenly became an important position for the Badgers went 40 percent of their incoming 2014 receiver class never made it to fall camp. James was an early find for the Badgers, as wide receiver Chris Beatty offered in the spring and James didn’t take long to jump on the opportunity. James has solid acceleration that allows him to outwit defenders, which was evident considering his high school team utilized him a lot on screens to get him the ball in his hands. A lot of schools have jumped in on James since he committed to Wisconsin, but James reaffirmed his commitment in late June.
Nick Thomas: Transferring from his high school football in Kansas to the IMG Academy in Florida to improve the level of competition he was facing, Thomas caught the eye of the Wisconsin coaching staff in the spring and received his first scholarship offer from the school. He committed on an unofficial visit in June. He plays with good instincts, awareness and anticipation. Thomas is a good downhill player, tough and has good fundamentals. He's physical, can take on blockers and find the ball. He will continue to develop, which is good news for the Badgers.
Jordan Griffin: Wisconsin needs linebackers and Griffin (pictured at top) knows that. It’s one of the main reasons why Wisconsin is the three-star middle linebacker’s top school. He loved the campus and facilities during his unofficial visit to the program over the summer and plans to return for an official visit against Nebraska on Nov.15. Griffin even thought about committing on his unofficial visit.
The Next Big Thing
Dominic Sheppard: Wisconsin didn’t appear to be in the running for the three-star outside linebacker in June, but the Badgers turned up their recruitment on Sheppard and it apparently paid off. Hoping to release his top five in the next couple days, Sheppard said at the beginning of the month he knows Wisconsin, along with Ohio State, will make the cut because of how hard wide receivers coach Chris Beatty has been recruiting him. He plans to take an official visit to Wisconsin Oct.25 against Maryland.
Badgers Miss Out
Jordan Scarlett: Scarlett shocked the recruiting world when the four-star tailback committed to Florida Atlantic over a ton of power six conference offers. Wisconsin was one of the schools there from the beginning, as the new coaching staff took over where the previous staff left off. Scarlett was intrigued by Wisconsin and said in articles that he was planning on taking an official visit to Madison this fall. As it happens in recruiting, Scarlett changed his mind. He announced a top list that didn’t include Wisconsin and committed to Miami at The Opening.
The following players with Wisconsin offers are committed elsewhere: Alex Andersen (West Virginia), Damon Arnette (South Carolina), Calvin Brewton (Florida State), Shawn Burgess-Becker (Alabama), Deon Cain (Clemson), Cecil Cherry (Tennessee), Jordan Cronkrite (Miami), Javarius Davis (North Carolina), Marques Ford (Tennessee), Andrew Ivie (Florida), Roosevelt Lawrence (Marshall), Carson Lydon (Virginia Tech), D’Anfernee McGriff (Auburn), Scott Patchan (Miami), Christian Philpott (Georgia Tech), Sherrod Pittman (South Carolina), T.J. Simmons (UCLA), Andre Smith (North Carolina), Jeff Smith (Boston College), Juwan Taylor (Georgia) Kevin Toliver (LSU), Arthur Westbrook (Florida State) and Shaquery Wilson (Georgia).
The following players with offers are not heavily considering Wisconsin: Byron Cowart, Davante Davis, Torrance Gibson, Jeff Holland, Kalif Jackson, Jalen Merrick, Jacques Patrick, Auden Tate and Dexter Williams
The Rest of the Offerees
Luke Ancrum: One of four offers he holds, Ancrum is hoping to set up an unofficial visit to Madison in August.
Derrick Baity: His scholarship list is growing, but the three-star cornerback wants to take visits before making his decision.
Chris Barr: Out of his 24 scholarship offers, Barr said in late June that Louisville and Maryland were the two teams at the top of his list, but he was still considering all the schools that have offered him. Barr hopes to cut his list down at the end of the summer.
Austin Brown: Holding double-digit scholarship offers, Brown is hopeful to start visiting more schools on his list, including Wisconsin. He currently doesn’t have a timetable for his decision.
Dexter Carter Jr.: Saying in the spring that Auburn and Wisconsin were the two schools standing out on her list. The Badgers like him at cornerback. Carter Jr. is the son of former NFL and Florida State great Dexter Carter.
Rashard Causey: While committed to Florida Atlantic for three months, Wisconsin stayed aggressive on the three-star cornerback from Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas. Causey says the Badgers are one of four schools – along with Florida State, Miami and South Carolina – that Causey says is aggressively recruiting him. He says he plans to have a top list in the next couple weeks.
Jordan Crawford: He has expressed his interest in wanting to play in state, but Florida, Florida State nor Miami have offered him yet. That has allowed Crawford to develop relationships with other schools. Earlier this month, he narrowed his list down to 10 current favorites. Those making the cut were: East Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Minnesota, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest and Wisconsin.
Ryan Davis: Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda told Davis he was the top wide receiver on Wisconsin’s recruiting board, but the Badgers haven’t made a ton of progress in terms of getting him on campus yet. He remains wide open, however, and has previously stated he has interest in the UW program.
Von Davis: He has a lot of offers to choose from, but most of them are from out of state. Davis has the desire to play in-state, but is still waiting for those offers to come.
Meiko Dotson: Offered by defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, Dotson was targeted as someone who could come in and play early, which is his goal. He’s received a handful of more offers since the Badgers came into the picture and he’s taking an unofficial visit to Florida this weekend.
Chris Hart: Seeing a NFL opportunity if he committed to Wisconsin, Hart is interested in the Badgers because a lot of his former teammates have come to Madison and played well enough to make it to the professional level. He plans to make his decision after his visits.
Ronnie Hoggins: Hoggins originally said he wanted to wait until after the season to make his pick between Louisville, TCU and Wisconsin. He appeared to have changed his mind when he tweeted earlier this week that he was going to announce his decision on a local radio show. He changed his mind less than 24 hours and his decision is now TBA.
Terry Howard: Wisconsin was Howard’s first scholarship offer and while the communication hasn’t been as consistent with the coaches, the Badgers remain at the top of the list.
Tavares Martin: Martin tweeted his list of 10 schools in June that included Louisville, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida Atlantic, Nebraska, Kentucky, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State and West Virginia.
Khalid McGee: In early June, McGee said his top schools were Louisville, West Virginia and Wisconsin and that he wants to go to a college where he could play early.
Tobias Moss: Defined as an athlete, Moss lined up at wide receiver, cornerback and some running back during his junior season, which included over 500 receiving yards, but says most schools, including Wisconsin, are recruiting him as a cornerback. Moss is looking to set up a visit to Madison.
Antonyo Sotolongo: Shortly after getting his offer from Wisconsin in late June, the two-star defensive back set an official visit to Wisconsin for the Oct.25 game against Maryland.
Brandon Wilson: For the last several weeks, Wilson has been working on a top list that includes Cincinnati, Georgia (no offer), Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and Wisconsin. Wilson hopes to commit by the end of the month, but said he would still consider official visits to Cincinnati and Wisconsin because both schools are too expensive for an unofficial visit.