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BadgerNation takes a look at Wisconsin's early recruiting efforts of the offensive line

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

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 offensive line.

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

Where Things Currently Stand

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator/line coach Joe Rudolph appear to finally have the Badgers’ scholarship linemen numbers close to where they need them. With the program having operated under capacity for the past three seasons, the Badgers worked this past season with 13 scholarship offensive linemen.

Although no scholarship seniors will graduate, it’s a wide belief that junior Ryan Ramczyk will leave for the N.F.L. after the Cotton Bowl. That shouldn’t be a problem with depth considering the Badgers are bringing in four in-state offensive linemen in the 2017 class, including four-star offensive linemen Kayden Lyles (the highest-rated prospect in the class) enrolling early.

With that in mind, UW can afford to be selective.

Top Prospects

Special teams coach Chris Haering’s background as a high school coach in Pennsylvania helped the Badgers get an early jump on the recruitment of James Gmiter, a two-way prospect who is being recruited on both sides of the ball. West Virginia and Wisconsin are his two power-five conference offers and schools like Michigan State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and UCLA are starting to show interest.

Wisconsin increased its interest level in Justin Johnson during November and offered him after reviewing his transcripts.

“Coach Rudolph told me he loved my academics and enjoyed watching my film,” Johnson said. “I love their tradition of offensive linemen. I look at universities, football programs, offensive lines, coaching staffs and the tradition. I’ve always been looking at different universities and Wisconsin was one for academics because they have some majors I’m considering. I’m glad to be offered by them. I just want to keep building the relationship over there.”

The offer from Wisconsin put Johnson into double digits, as BYU, Maryland, Missouri and Pittsburgh are some of his bigger offers. Considering this is only his second year playing football, Johnson is well ahead of the curve.

“I would say my run blocking is ahead of my pass protection, but I can improve all over,” Johnson said. “I’m good at pass protection, but I can run block into the second level and free up space for the backs.”

Johnson has visited the local schools that have offered him, as well as having been to North Carolina and North Carolina State for camps and Duke for an unofficial. He has no immediate plans for unofficial visits but says he could get back on the road toward the end of spring.

Way-too-early prediction

By our count Wisconsin has offered three offensive linemen in the 2018 class (Ohio’s Jack Carman is the other), and Gmiter’s relationship with Haering could be huge for the Badgers here. Typically Wisconsin finds its offensive line recruits at its high school summer camp (see Tyler Biadasz and Patrick Kasl the last two cycles). That will likely be the case again.

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