Reggie Jennings (Allen Trieu / Scout)

BadgerNation takes a look at Wisconsin's early recruiting efforts of linebackers

Over the next week, BadgerNation will take an early look at the 2018 recruiting class at each position. Today we look at the linebackers.

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 in 2017.

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.

Next up is the linebackers.

Editor’s Note: Not all prospects who have offers from Wisconsin are listed

Where Things Currently Stand

Wisconsin has loaded up on linebackers the last three recruiting cycles, signing a whopping 10 prospects since the 2015 class (that doesn’t count Christian Bell transferring in from Alabama). The decision could be a smart move considering the Badgers might have to replace both outside linebackers moving into next season.

Wisconsin knows Jack Cichy will be graduating after 2017 and possibly T.J. Watt, although the second-team All-American could declare for the N.F.L. draft following the Cotton Bowl. Either way, UW has been aggressive and has extended offers to at least a dozen linebackers.

Top Prospects

Wisconsin sits in great early position for the four-star prospect, who has the Badgers in his early top three and says the staff is one of six schools aggressively recruiting him. It is early though and Kenny Bastida will get plenty of attention. Described as a hard-nose player who does a nice job of reading and reacting, Batsida would be the highest-rated prospect the Badgers have ever landed out of Florida.

Offered based on his sophomore film on an unofficial visit in March, Reggie Jennings has taken things incredibly slow in his recruitment. He still holds no other known scholarship offers, let alone getting much interest from other schools, but the Badgers are just fine with that. Recruited by assistant coach Chris Haering, who visited the school in January to start his research on him, Jennings was viewed as a “no brainer” by the staff, even though he’s still raw in a lot of areas.

Having played on varsity the last three years, Jennings finished with 73 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and one forced fumble last season.

Batsida and Rosendo Louis were offered at the same time in the spring and come from the same school, although there’s no mention of a package deal. Louis is listed as a defensive end but could easily play outside linebacker in Wisconsin’s scheme, as he’s close to the same makeup as junior college commit Andrew Van Ginkel.

Wisconsin had defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield and Leonhard stop by his school during the contact period earlier this month.

“Wisconsin has a very storied program,” Louis said in the spring. “They produce NFL players like Russell (Wilson) and J.J. (Watt), and that catches my eye. I haven't talked to any coaches yet but I plan on meeting them when I visit this summer. They are definitely a contender for me and they're right up in the mix."

After receiving offers from Iowa and Iowa State in the spring and Duke in September, Jack Sanborn picked up a Wisconsin offer in early October, a school that is in the mix because Madison is only about two hours from home. The Badgers have had good success with linebacker in Illinois with outside linebacker Garret Dooley and insider linebacker T.J. Edwards being impact players on the defense this past year.

"I know it is a great academic school and is also a very good athletic school," Sanborn told us. “I have been to Wisconsin once when I was younger and I remember that it is a great campus and I have heard the atmosphere and fan base around the campus is amazing."

Sanborn’s dad played at Oregon but there hasn’t been much interest from the Ducks. Sanborn hasn’t named any favorites but he called his unofficial visit to Wisconsin’s home game against Ohio State “electric.”

“It blew away my expectations,” he told us after. “It was amazing.”

Jack Sirmon has visited Madison twice and was in attendance for the Wisconsin-Ohio State game. His dad is the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and played with current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who the elder Sirmon gives a ringing endorsement to.

Another visitor for Wisconsin’s night game against the Buckeyes, Tobe Umerah had been wanting to check out Wisconsin for a few months because of his friend and former teammate Quintez Cephus having success as a true freshman. He got more than he could ask for with a scholarship offer.

“(Quintez) absolutely loves the environment and the people there,” Umerah said to us about the offer. “He told me that this program will be the best program that will develop me as a person and as an athlete."

Umerah also has offers from AuburnDukeMississippi and Tennessee, but Wisconsin moved up high on his list

“The city was beautiful, and everybody there is welcoming,” he told us. “The facilities at Wisconsin are great and the coaches were showing a lot of love and interest.  The atmosphere during games is so full of energy — it's unreal.”

Way-too-early prediction

Wisconsin will likely add a couple linebackers in this class if they are the right fit.

If his scholarship offer remains on the table, Jennings will be a part of the class. It also appears like the Badgers are in great shape to land Sanborn. It is too early in the recruiting process for Umerah to name a leader, but the Badgers pushed all the right buttons to make a very strong impression on one of the top defensive prospects in Georgia's 2018 class.

While he doesn’t have an offer yet, Waukesha (WI) Catholic Memorial’s C.J. Goetz is one to keep an eye on. A frequent visitor for Wisconsin home games, Goetz said he’s getting the most interest currently Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

In his team’s division 3 title win, Goetz was everywhere on the field, finishing the game with eight tackles, two sacks for minus-17 yards and two pass breakups. He’s extremely talented and looks to be worthy of a scholarship offer. Question is will UW wait to see what happens with some of the players who have been already offered or pounce on Goetz after a thorough review of his film/impressive camp performance?


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