Commitment Date: 1/24/16
Commitment in the Class: 23rd
Accolades: Rated the No.1 running back in Illinois, No.5 in the Midwest and No.28 in the country … Chicago Tribune Player of the Year as a senior ... Gatorade Illinois Player of the Year as a senior ... first-team all-state by Illinois Football Coaches Association and Chicago Tribune as a junior and senior ... led 14-0 Glenbard West to Class 7A state championship as a senior, rushing for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns in state championship game ... finished senior season with 1,917 rushing yards, 430 receiving yards and 47 total touchdowns ... named West Suburban Conference Silver Division Offensive MVP as a junior and senior ... two-year team MVP ... also lettered in track and field ... father, John, played football at Purdue ... brother, Jake, plays football at Duke.
Recruiting Story: When schools started recruiting Brodner in spring 2015, some talked to him about potentially being a linebacker or even a safety, but the schools that talked to him about being a tailback instantly became a favorite.
“I love the position, I've played it my whole life and it's sweet that I am getting recruited to play it,” Brodner said in March 2015. “The feedback that I am getting is that I have good vision and I don't shy away from contact.”
Although Wisconsin had a commitment from four-star tailback Antonio Williams at the time, the staff was intrigued by Brodner’s skill set and invited him up to camp. But instead of having him work at tailback, Wisconsin worked him at linebacker and saw him run one of the fastest 40-yard times at the camp (4.5 seconds).
“The camp experience overall was sweet, I liked it a lot,” Brodner said after the camp. “It was nice learning from the coaches I think my favorite part of the camp was getting to meet the coaches and getting a look at the facilities which were very nice.”
The interest in Brodner was legitimate by Wisconsin until mid-June, as the Badgers received commitments from three linebackers in rapid succession and no longer had a spot for him. By the end of June, Brodner committed to Vanderbilt to play tailback and that was that.
Fast forward to the fall. Williams and the Wisconsin staff had fallen out of favor with one another, leading to Williams de-committing and UW turning the page on him before he committed to Ohio State in October. While UW was trying to jump in the recruitment of C.J. Freeman, George Hill, Kyle Porter, Brandon Stephens and other long shots, Brodner, fresh off of a 7A state title, was falling out of love with the Commodores. By the time Brodner de-committed in December, the Badgers were still searching for a tailback.
Remembering the performance he put on during summer camp, Wisconsin got Brodner to commit to taking an official visit without having been offered. Once he signed up to come to Madison, UW offered him the weekend before, brought him to campus and impressed him to the point where he committed.
Why Wisconsin? “I really trusted them and the direction they're going in. They all have crazy amounts of experience, some have played at the highest level and coached at the highest level, so they know what they're looking for in a good running back … There's definitely a chance for me to play early, I just have to get there and get to work.” - Brodner
Scouting Report: Brodner is a thick back with a lower center of gravity. He runs with excellent balance and does not go down easily on first contact or arm tackles. He has good speed and runs downhill, but is not necessarily an elusive back. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and has the build, strength and demeanor for blocking, but we have not gotten to see him do a ton of if yet. He was highly productive in high school, is a tough, hard-working kid, and never really got the credit he deserved for the athleticism he has. We think he will be a really good college back. – Scout.com national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu.
Coach’s Quote: “The word that comes to mind is natural. He does have some natural ability. The thing I like about him is his size. You like the mixture of size and power. He can get his pads down, run behind his pads and has the ability to get his foot down, make one cut and accelerate. The biggest thing was watching him get to the edge. Having him camp, we had an opportunity to time him ourselves, so we knew he had decent speed. Watching him play, he plays fast. I was impressed with everything about him. After talking to him and his family, we found out he wanted to be a Badger since he was a young age, so in the end we feel like we got the right guy.” – Wisconsin running back coach John Settle
BadgerNation Prediction: Head coach Paul Chryst never got rattled when Williams jumped ship, reportedly telling the staff that there would be no need to panic, to have every staff member examine their recruiting areas for prospects and then go after the best available players. That’s how outside linebacker coach Tim Tibesar found Brodner, who was considered the bench mark for the program and every player the staff found was compared to him. UW will likely have him redshirt this season with the depth at tailback, but he’ll be in the mix to compete for carries in 2017.