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Badgers Recruiting: Wisconsin dips into Southern California to land Culver City's Alex Smith

Wisconsin lands its first 2018 cornerback (and a returner nonetheless) from talent-rich California in Culver City's Alex Smith. What is the ripple effect for the Badgers in their small class? We examine.

Committed Over

Culver City (CA) High cornerback/returner Alexander Smith picked Wisconsin over offers from Army, Boston College, Cal Poly, Fordham, Idaho, Montana State and Navy. 

On Film 

Smith shows a nice combination of size, speed and athleticism. He has both short area quickness and the speed to turn and run with receivers and is a dangerous return man, as well. He’s a physical player and isn’t afraid to come up and hit an opposing receivers. He plays with a nice edge to his game. He should fit in very well in the Big Ten with his aggressive style of play. – Scout National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins.

Recruiting Story

In a region that produces a lot of skilled athletes, Smith had a solid junior season for a 7-4 football team with 65 tackles and five special teams touchdowns. Invited to the US Army National Combine in January, Smith started to see some offers trickle in after that, including Army in late March and Navy in late April. Boston College became his first Power-Five offer May 22 but his offer from the Badgers and wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore eight days later was huge for him.

“As a kid I’ve always watched them play on television, seeing people come out of there like J.J. Watt, Melvin Gordon, Russell Wilson,” Smith said. “Doing more research in high school and thinking about life after high school, I saw that they had the major that I wanted to major in, which is business real estate. It really got me hooked on.”

Smith and his family didn’t wait long to plan a visit. Landing in Wisconsin on Monday, Smith said he knew quickly that the Badgers were the program he wanted to play for.

Recruiting Impact

Now the real fun starts.

Already at its 85 total allotment for scholarships, Wisconsin is set to graduate 13 scholarship seniors following the 2017 season. Smith is the 13th verbal commit in this class. Naturally that means the Badgers don’t have room to add any more prospects, right? On paper that’s correct but it’s evident Wisconsin isn’t going to stop recruiting.

Based on where Wisconsin is offering prospects, the Badgers want to add at least one (probably two) receivers, desperately want a nose tackle and another cornerback. The Badgers also appear to be saving a spot for Green Bay (WI) Bay Port offensive lineman Jack Plumb, who will likely make his choice by the end of the month, and are still targeting some elite-level outside linebackers (namely David Alston and Cameron McGrone). UW was originally wanting to add a scholarship kicker but the program might have to wait a year if nobody blows them away in the specialist camps. Add that all up and the Badgers might be adding 6-7 more players, although it’s unlikely it will go that high.

The focus now at cornerback will likely be on Travian Blaylock, who would have committed to the Badgers last weekend had he not already committed to going to Stanford for a camp and school visit. That visit will wrap up a week from now. If the Cardinal doesn’t offer, Blaylock will most likely commit. If he does get a Stanford offer, there’s still a good chance for the Badgers since his experience in Madison wowed him and his family.

In addition to Blaylock, Wisconsin made a strong impact on Belleville (MI) cornerback Davion Williams on a campus visit last week and the three-star corner is likely to make his commitment soon. Michigan State has been the perceived front runner but the Badgers apparently made up a lot of ground.

Florida’s Marquis Williams called Wisconsin his top school back in November and has had the Badgers high on his list ever since. He wants to visit the Badgers this summer, but Wisconsin might be out of spots by the time he is scheduled to arrive.

Orlando (FL) Phillips cornerback Tanner Ingle put Wisconsin in his top-10 earlier Tuesday and speaks highly of defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. He has yet to visit Madison and wants to take his official visits after making a commitment later this summer. Again, he likely won’t have a spot if he waits.

Indiana’s Reese Taylor is still on the radar and has the Badgers as his number-two school behind the Hoosiers. Greer (SC) Southside cornerback Quavian White was close to committing in April but deciding to wait. Whether it was his choosing or the UW staff’s decision, he likely doesn’t have a spot anymore.


“(My visit) was great. I loved everything from the facilities to the campus and definitely Camp Randall. I would probably say it’s the best stadium in college football.” - Smith

Final Thought 

Since Friday Wisconsin has landed a bruising running back from Texas, a talented three-sport athlete from Michigan and now a versatile football player from California. While they aren’t in the top echelon, those are three pretty good scores for Wisconsin from three fertile recruiting areas. Special teams – mainly the return game - hasn’t given Wisconsin much consistency over the years, so Smith will have an opportunity to spark those units. And at 6-foot, he’ll be one of Wisconsin’s taller cornerbacks. There’s a lot to like with his potential to impact the program in multiple ways.

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