Justus Woods (© Michael Clark)

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

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

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 running backs.

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

Where Things Currently Stand

Even with the Badgers losing two seniors after this season, Wisconsin’s addition of junior Chris James last spring was huge. Running back coach John Settle will go into next season with James and redshirt sophomore Bradrick Shaw fighting for the starting spot and junior Taiwan Deal looking for a bounce-back season.

Wisconsin likes to add a tailback prospect every season and did so last season with four-star Sam Brodner and flipping three-star Jonathan Taylor from Rutgers this year. UW can afford to be selective at this position

Top Prospects


After rushing for over 100 yards three times in five games, Chris Curry dislocated his shoulder and missed the rest of his sophomore year. He rebounded with 1,158 yards, 11 yards per carry, 165.4 yards per game and 13 touchdowns this past season. Curry said his two power-five conference schools – North Carolina and Wisconsin – are tied at the top of his list. Wisconsin defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield made it a point to stop by his school during December.


A region Settle has recruited for years, Wisconsin landed cornerback Madison Cone out of Kernersville in the 2017 class and are hopeful to get Justus Woods on campus this summer.

“Wisconsin really has it all,” Woods told BadgerNation after the offer. “They have a great program and know how to really make running backs into N.F.L. picks. They have solid academics, and I feel it's a place where I could grow and become more of a complete person and player. Coach Settle has always raved about the facilities here, so I really see a complete package at Wisconsin."

A big, physical running back, Woods has good vision and is a patient runner with quick feet. He is decisive and an extremely effective when running downhill. Woods is versatile, catches the ball well and has a high ceiling, meaning he could be an impact player early in his college career. The Badgers were Woods’ first power five offer in May, beating schools Northwestern and Virginia to the punch.

Way-too-early prediction

Five-star Zamir White holds an offer from the Badgers but is focused on other schools before his late June decision. He’ll be announcing a top four “soon.” Four-star running back Markese Stepp also held an offer from Wisconsin before making a commitment to Notre Dame.

Wisconsin landed its last two tailbacks only a couple of months before signing day, so the staff won’t be in a hurry with this position. It’ll be interesting to watch Waunakee (WI) High tailback Javian Dayne and his recruitment. The son of the legendary Ron Dayne, Javion rushed for 1,584 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He’ll commit if he’s ever offered, but he’ll have to prove himself at camp this summer.

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