With college football currently in the recruiting dead period until mid-January, the University of Wisconsin can sit back and be pleased with its efforts for the 2017 class.
Wisconsin has 15 known verbal commits for this upcoming class and will have at least six enrolling in less than a month. And considering the Badgers had 10 commits by the beginning of May, the Wisconsin coaching staff has been able to focus primarily on the 2018 recruiting class.
By our projections Wisconsin has 15 scholarships to hand out in 2018 and we’ll look at each position over the next week.
First up is the defensive back.
Editor’s Note: Not all prospects who have offers from Wisconsin are listed
Where Things Currently Stand
Wisconsin made a strong commitment to boosting the numbers in its young secondary in 2016 and 2017. The Badgers signed three cornerbacks and three safeties and signed another two in 2017. It’ll be a young group for secondary coach Jim Leonhard in the spring, as the Badgers are projected to have eight secondary players who are redshirt freshmen or younger.
While it’s looking unlikely the Badgers will sign a safety in 2017, Wisconsin quickly addressed that need in 2018 with the early commitments of River Rouge (MI) High’s Reggie Pearson and Menasha (WI) High’s Trent Ingalls.
Pearson is touted as a physical prospect who is a good tackler, meaning he’ll likely follow in the steps of D’Cota Dixon at strong safety. He finished his junior year with 120 tackles, six pass break-ups and seven interceptions.
Ingalls is a 6-1 speed guy who is a solid athlete. He’s a little undersized in terms of his weight now, but he has good ball skills and could translate into a good free safety.
Even with the Badgers signing five cornerbacks in the last two cycles, Wisconsin still want to add some bodies to build some depth. By our count Wisconsin has offered 11 cornerbacks in the 2018 class and there are a couple early standouts.
Marquis Williams is a legacy recruit with Minnesota but the three-star cornerback’s unofficial visit to Madison a day after Thanksgiving left a big impact with him.
“(Wisconsin) was awesome,” Williams told us last month. “Wisconsin showed me a whole different environment. No college I went to showed me as much love as Wisconsin did or loyalty. They were all about school. School was first with them. It was a blessing to see.”
The Gophers are one of many power-five offers for Williams, including Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina State, Penn State and others, but the Badgers might have an ace in their pocket with Leonhard.
“We built a bond just that quick,” Williams said of Leonhard. “He didn’t sugarcoat nothing, he kept it real and kept it solid. We text mostly every week or every other week. We try to stay in touch. He’s loyal and he knows the game from playing in the League for 10 years and coming back to coach up players he wants to get to another level. I love Jim Leonhard.”
UW was in early on Jairus Brents and got him on campus for an unofficial visit to Wisconsin’s home game against Ohio State. Over the last two months Brents has picked up close to double-digit offers, including Alabama and Florida, but says the game atmosphere in Madison left an impact.
“Wisconsin is up their really high and after the game they moved up even more,” Brents said.
Montrae Braswell was also in attendance for the Ohio State-Wisconsin game and left saying the Badgers were his leader over offers from Florida Atlantic and Kentucky.
“The coaching staff was talking about how they love Florida defensive backs, and how we can come in young and start early,” Braswell said. “They love physical and aggressive cornerbacks that are discipline. I can come fit right in.”
Keondrae Miller appears to be lower on the recruiting board but he’s still certainly on Wisconsin’s radar. Leonhard visited Miller, who has others power five offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa State and Louisville, earlier this month at his school. Miller has kept Wisconsin at the top of his list because of his relationship with defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield and is building one with UW’s defensive backs coach.
Wisconsin has offers to three players projected at safety by Scout – Aliquippa (PA) HS Kwantel Raines, Detroit Cass Tech DeAndre Square and West Palm Beach (FL) Lakes Gurvan Hall. All three have shown interest in UW but nothing earth shattering at this point. In reality, UW is probably doesn’t need another safety in 2018.
Looking at the numbers it would make sense for Wisconsin to take at least one cornerback, possibly two. While Brents would be nice, the recent offers and the in-state schools aggressive recruiting him would make him a tough pull. The Badgers will more likely grab one, maybe two prospects, from Florida, and Williams and/or Braswell would be nice prospects for UW to pick up.