Q: Quite a few late offers have gone out in recent weeks. Are these the result of the staff looking for replacements to current commits, or are there the result of trying to make the in-state/strategic out of state coaches happy?
A: It’s a little bit of both. Like other coaching transitions, the new coaching staff comes in, evaluates the current roster and current recruiting class and figures out what players are missing that they need to compete. In the case of Paul Chryst, it was bringing over a pair of Pitt players, adding depth at running back and hitting the in-state recruiting.
For the record, I don’t have a real problem with how Gary Andersen recruited the state of Wisconsin. Over the last two years, all of the state’s top players committed to the Badgers, but high school coaches started to gruff was Andersen didn’t give those next-tier players much of a look, kids like Vincent Hughes, Alec Ingold, Marcus Kelly, Robert Windsor and so on.
As we all know those type of kids are usually among the hardest working of the bunch because of the tremendous pride they have playing for the in-state school. Look at the first Rose Bowl appearance in 2010 and you’ll see a number of lightly-recruited in-state players in the starting lineup. Those are guys that pound sand in the weight room and really develop over the course of time.
However, Wisconsin’s recruiting classes the last two years (2014 and ’15) have been two of the best classes on paper the Badgers have ever inked since Scout.com began doing rankings in 2002. Maybe Andersen didn’t recruit the state, but he was doing really well recruiting in other areas to the point where you didn’t necessarily see a drop off in production.
Even so, I believe UW going hard after Kraig Howe was a result of UW recognizing they were probably going to lose Elu Aydon (which they did to Oregon State yesterday), and the Badgers going after cornerbacks is because their two commits from Dallas South Oak Cliff (Ausborne and Williams) haven’t taken their official visits yet and don’t have them scheduled. This late in the game, that’s a little bit of a red flag.
Q: Of the current commits, which are in the most danger of not gaining admission to Wisconsin?
A:I think most of the academic causalities of the Andersen era have been weeded out. The one prospect to keep an eye on is Missouri City (TX) Marshall tailback Davon Crookshank, who has been very quiet since the coaching turnover. Last we heard, Crookshank (pictured above) had to take a college test in December, but we haven’t heard the results of that. With UW taking a commitment from Bradrick Shaw and Crookshank having not taking his official visit yet, it appears the Badgers might be moving on without him.
Q: What WR's are getting late looks to replace Brandyn Lee? Who is most likely to commit?
A:As far as we know, Chryst and company haven’t offered another wide receiver in 2015 and appear set to sign only three-star receiver Andrew James in this recruiting class. After the void of talent last season, why is that?
The answer is twofold. For starters, Wisconsin only lost Kenzel Doe as a scholarship receiver, meaning there are a lot of young bodies that are returning. Alex Erickson is back for a senior season and Rob Wheelwright started to show glimpses of his potential late in the season. UW has three young sophomore receivers – Natrell Jamerson, George Rushing and Krenwick Sanders – that the Badgers coaching staff have to feel good about, so the players are there.
Secondly, there is no receivers coach in place and there likely won’t be before next Wednesday’s national signing day. It’s hard to recruit kids when they have no clue who the position coach is. Had UW landed Jay Norvell, there might have been a chance for the Badgers to jump into the mix for a talented receiver. In its current situation, there is not a big name out there that UW has a legit chance with.
Q: Rudolph has never coached OL. Could that be in fact be a liability and/or perceived as a liability by a prospect?
A:I don’t think Joe Rudolph being the offensive line coach is Wisconsin’s long term solution, especially since he already has the offensive coordinator and associate head coach title also listed on his name plate. However, I don’t think Rudolph coaching the offensive line will have any ill effects on the program. Remember he was a team captain and earned three letters as a UW offensive lineman. If I am an offensive line recruit on the fence, I believe Rudolph’s background as a lineman, his experience as an assistant and his passion for the University would be a good swing vote for me.
Q: Do you really think Jordan Stevenson stays with Wisconsin now the Shaw has committed?
A:I would be very surprised if he didn’t. He went on an official visit to Oklahoma State two weekends ago, but has been proactive on Twitter tweeting out Badgers comments and photos. The plan from the beginning was to likely take two running backs in the class considering the lack of depth the Badgers currently have in the backfield. There’s always a chance a player goes elsewhere until they sign their national letter of intent, but I’d be surprised if he signed anywhere else … as of today.
Q: Which commits, if any, has the current staff cooled on?
A:There’s no other current commits that I believe are on the fridge except for the players already mentioned. Be wary of Nate Howard and Jake Pickard this week. Howard said he’s making his decision tonight and we believe it will be Missouri. The odds of Pickard staying with Wisconsin are 50-50, as Michigan and Syracuse are factors in his recruitment. Dominic Sheppard and Jordan Griffin are also supposedly on the fence, but we believe they will sign with Wisconsin … as of today.