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

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

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 wide receivers.

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

Where Things Currently Stand

Barring a tremendous Cotton Bowl by tight end Troy Fumagalli, junior Jazz Peavy is about to end a dubious streak for scholarship receivers at Wisconsin.

For the last six seasons and nine of the past 10, Wisconsin has not had a player lead the team in receiving yards who was given a scholarship to play receiver out of high school, as a pair of high school quarterbacks turned walk-on receivers (Jared Abbrederis and Alex Erickson) led the team in receiving yards the past five seasons. So why Peavy’s 635 receiving yards (assuming he is held without a catch in the Cotton Bowl) would be the lowest for a leading receiver since 2008, it does represent a step in the right direction.

To brace the impact of losing two receivers in both 2016 and 2017, the Badgers have signed five receivers the last two recruiting cycles. While we can only guess how Wisconsin receivers coach Ted Gilmore feels about Texas three-star prospects Cade Green and Emmet Perry (who both won state titles on Saturday), he feels like the staff hit the jackpot with the three-man class of Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor. UW currently doesn’t have any scholarship receivers who will be redshirt juniors or redshirt sophomores next season.

Top Prospects

Jumping into the mix with an offer in the spring, Dallas Craddieth is one of the top prospects in the St. Louis region. He’s also one of Gilmore’s top prospects considering UW’s receivers coach is spearheading the recruitment.

“In my recruitment, it will be very important to get to know the coaches,” Craddieth told us during the summer. “I want to go somewhere where I feel at home. That will be judged on my relationship with coaches, thoughts on campus and how the players are. I see a great and welcoming community at both Missouri and Wisconsin. Coach Gilmore tells me about all the fun the players have off the field, but at practice it’s strictly work. That’s something I want.”

Craddieth said the Badgers are a school he will visit during his recruitment.

Although he is one of the top prospects in Florida and has over two dozen offers, Jermaine Eskridge only had one college from the state listed in his top nine in late November.

Eskridge has three Big Ten programs (Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin), three SEC schools (Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss) and Florida State, USC and West Virginia.

Eskridge's list has a diverse sample of some of college football's top programs as nearby as Florida State and as far away as Los Angeles.

He barely got his offer from Wisconsin this summer when Daniel George put the Badgers in his early top with Alabama, Florida State, Miami and Pittsburgh.

“It’s a great school,” George said. “Their academics are what stick out to me. I plan on attending business school in college, and Wisconsin is a great business school. My head coach now is a huge fan of Wisconsin and raves about them. He was jumping up and down when he heard they offered, and that excitement wears off on me. I was just as happy, and I can’t wait to visit this summer.”

The Maryland native says he sees no downside to Wisconsin, pointing out that distance isn’t a factor and that the connection he sees between the players off the field impress him.

“My mom has these things where she just absolutely loves something, and Wisconsin may be that,” he said. “She raves about the coaching staff, and says the campus is beautiful. She’s done her research on the school. I personally plan on doing more research on it, but from what I know we both love it. I could see myself playing there in the future.”

Having the potential to be one of the top receivers in Florida in his class, Dominick Watt has a great frame, has shown the ability to make plays over the top of the defense and has the speed to make plays after the catch. Wisconsin made sure to stop by his school during the contact period earlier this month.

“I don't have a leader right now, but when I visit all of the schools I have offers from, I have to see that they're going to be showing me love when I get there,” Watt told Scout this summer. “I also want to see how much they want me at their school, and what kind of offense they run to see if I like that offense. Plus, I have to like the environment there.”

Way-too-early prediction

Wisconsin has made Florida a high priority early in this recruiting cycle when it comes to wide receivers, as the Badgers coaching staff visited a handful of receivers during the evaluation period. Gilmore has landed kids in Georgia, Missouri and Texas and the staff got Pryor from a high-powered program outside Chicago, so it’s proven that UW will go to fertile recruiting areas to find players.

A player to watch for in the Midwest is Wisconsin Rapids junior Isaiah Westfall, who has visited the campus for games a number of times this past fall and finished his junior season with 42 catches for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The one thing we’ve seen with Gilmore is he finds late bloomers and under-the-radar talent. He did it with Quintez Cephus in 2016 and again with Perry this cycle. So while UW would like to take at least two receivers in this class, the Badgers likely have a commitment prospect somewhere out there who doesn’t have an offer yet, such as a Westfall.

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