With eight players already committed in the 2018 recruiting class, Wisconsin appears to have the bulk of its recruiting work done with nine months to go until national signing day.
The Badgers will likely only have 13 scholarship seniors (D’Cota Dixon and Rafael Gaglianone will likely be granted a medical redshirt), meaning that the coaching staff – barring attrition – only has to fill five more spots.
Taking a look at where things stand with each position on the recruiting trail over the next week, we first take a look at 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 in the 2015, 16 and 17 class (that doesn’t count Christian Bell transferring in from Alabama). The Badgers are at it again in 2018.
Hosting inside linebacker C.J. Goetz and outside linebacker Mason Platter on February 19, Wisconsin offered both prospects and saw them each commit a day later. Goetz plays physically in all three phases and has good straight-line speed with good lateral movements. Platter is a long, lanky, physical athlete who can bend around the edge and rush the passer.
A month later the rich got richer, as Wisconsin landed four-star inside linebacker Jack Sanborn. An extremely productive high school player, Sanborn plays in a similar system in high school and shows excellent instincts at the position. Goetz and Sanborn likely fill Wisconsin’s quota at inside linebacker.
The Badgers find themselves in the thick of an interesting recruitment with Bastida, who has been quiet with his recruitment but said Indiana, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin were the schools standing out to him previously. The Hoosiers have been aggressively pursuing him, as are LSU and Florida. He wants to decide by the start his senior season.
“I definitely want to get it out of the way so I have more time to build a relationship with my future coaching staff,” Bastida said. “I'm pretty sure I'll make a decision this summer.”
Although listed on the line, Wisconsin wants to have Chatfield at outside linebacker, a position they converted high school defensive end prospects Izayah Green-May and Keldric Preston to. Offered by Wisconsin nearly a year ago, Chatfield got to make his first visit to Wisconsin in mid-April.
“The visit was great,” he said. “It was just really great. I got to talk to the coaches and see so many different things while I was there.”
Wisconsin has been at or near the top for Chatfield for quite some time and have managed to forge a strong bond with him, keeping his best interests in mind.
“Wisconsin always shows me love,” Chatfield said. “The coaches are always looking out for my best interests. They tell me that even if I don’t pick UW, they want me to be comfortable and in a good situation. I really like that.”
Wisconsin was one of many Midwest visits for Chatfield, stopping at Notre Dame and Ohio State in the following days. He says he doesn’t know when he’ll make a decision.
Wisconsin got McGrone on campus in early March and saw him give the city, school and football program high marks.
“It was really great, got some one on one time with the coaches and I could tell they really cared about me and were hype that I was down there,” he said. “I have never just sat down and talked with the head coach of a college football program before, but Coach Chryst is a really genuine person and just from us talking for like 10 minutes, I really liked him.”
The personal feel to his trip given to him by the staff made McGrone excited to hopefully come back to see a game later this year.
Following his Wisconsin visit, McGrone made stops to Indiana and Tennessee (two schools heavily involved with him) and stopped by Michigan. He did say, however, that a trip to Vanderbilt was the highlight of his recruitment.
Coming from a high school Wisconsin (and many other colleges) routinely target, Square appears to be looking at Michigan State and Wisconsin. Square is not certain of his full summer camp schedule yet, but knows for certain he will be at Ohio State. He is likely to not make a decision until later in his process, as he wants to take all five of his official visits. If Wisconsin wants him to visit, he’ll visit.
Wisconsin is done at outside linebacker unless they find a player who is an instant difference maker. It’s a good argument the above players would fit that billing.
Bastida is talented enough to play inside and outside, so Wisconsin’s pursuit of him is justified. He would big the biggest recruit Wisconsin has ever landed out of Florida (i.e. it won’t be easy to get him). McGrone was injured most of his junior year, so his senior year will be big for him and could allow him to get more offers (he’s got his eye on Notre Dame). UW appears to sit in the strongest position with Square.
The Badgers have previously offered Calvin Hart Jr. (American Heritage) and Reggie Jennings (Brookfield Central) but neither appear to be options. Wisconsin hasn’t contacted Hart in some time (even though he labeled the Badgers as his leader two months ago) and Jennings – we’re told – no longer has a valid offer. It’s also unlikely that the Badgers will start recruiting recently de-committed linebacker Mike Bruner (Mequon Homestead), who Wisconsin hardly recruited prior to his commitment when the Badgers had zero linebacker commits at the time.