Secondary: Titus Booker (four stars, No.39 CB by Scout.com)
For the second consecutive year Wisconsin struggled to recruit the cornerback position, landing only one projected prospect. While it’s a given the Badgers wanted to improve their depth at cornerback, and will be looking to do so in the 2016 cycle, the Badgers did sign a pretty impressive prospect in Booker, who is the first four-star defensive back to sign with Wisconsin and is the highest-rated cornerback to sign with the Badgers since Aaron Henry in the 2007 class (three star rated No.40).
Booker has the size and speed combination that Wisconsin doesn’t currently have at the position on its roster and is a type of talent that doesn’t come to Wisconsin often, as Booker is ranked number 225 in the Scout 300.
Transitioning from running back to cornerback, Booker’s athleticism (he has a track background) should be able to help him jump right in and make an impact after he learns the nuances of the position. His tailback background should be use to the physical nature of the position, which should translate to being able to mix it up at the line of scrimmage across from his man.
Like a handful of prospects, Booker contemplated whether or not to take other visits in the wake of the coaching turnover. He originally scheduled trips to Kentucky and Iowa before having a chance of heart and canceling. It also appeared that Booker was going to take an official visit to Ann Arbor after new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh extended an offer and an official visit invitation the week before signing day.
Offered as a tailback, Booker was tempted to go on the visit to hear what the new Wolverines coaching staff had to offer but reversed course at the 11th hour because he wanted to follow through on his decision.
“Titus has been great during this transition,” said new Wisconsin secondary coach Daronte Jones. “He was all in. He had some other opportunities, naturally, but he stuck with us, and that’s the kind of guy we’re looking for. He was looking for the academic challenge here and we’re looking for the athletic ability. He’s never played corner, but he surprised some folks at the camp here in the summer. I think he has all the tools to make the easy transition.”
The cornerback class look vastly different in early December. In addition to Booker, the Badgers had verbal commitments from teammates X’zavien Ausborne and Takadrae Williams at Dallas South Oak Cliff and Virginia Beach (VA) Ocean Lakes senior T.J. Griffin – all three star prospects. By mid-January, UW didn’t have any of the three, mostly by their own choosing.
If Wisconsin didn’t keep Booker, it likely would have been the biggest loss of this recruiting cycle for Wisconsin. As said above, Booker isn’t a prospect that Wisconsin doesn’t sign normally, and the Badgers likely wouldn’t have been able to sign a corner in the 2015 class.
Set to lose four scholarship cornerbacks after next season, Wisconsin will need to recruit the position heavy in the 2016 cycle, especially since Booker will likely need a redshirt season. The four star will have a chance to be starting opposite of Shelton or being the nickel cornerback by his redshirt freshman season.
Signing Day Grade: B-