Past Recruiting Classes

Which recruiting classes turned out to be the best? We hear about class rankings often around signing day, but how do they look years later? How does each class grade out relative to others in the Alvarez era?

In retrospect, which recruting classes turned out to be outstanding and which turned out to be duds? Well, I did a little number crunching to come up with the following evaluations.

  • Here is how I evaluated each class. I gave each player in a particular recruiting class a numerical grade based on how they produced over their careers as a Badger.

  • If the player was a star, one of the best to play at Wisconsin, an All-American they received an "8".
  • If the player was an all-conference performer, NFL type player, they received a "6".
  • If the player was a full time starter, they received a "4".
  • If the player was a part-time starter, they received a "2".
  • If the player was a reserve and contributed here and there, they received a "1".
  • All players who quit, transferred, never got off the scout team, etc. before contributing received a "0".
  • In the most recent classes, we know very little about where most of the players will end up grading out at because they simply haven't had an opportunity to fulfill their potential yet. So, most of the current freshman/sophomore class presently grades out as a 0 (because they haven't contributed yet...not because they won't).

  • Then, once each player was graded, I tallied how many TOTAL CONTRIBUTION POINTS each class was worth. This is often more a measure of a class' quantity rather than individual quality. To measure quality, I have given an AVERAGE SCORE for the class as a whole. You might be surprised to see that the average grade for most classes ends up being around a "2" (part-time starter status). It just goes to show how many recruits wind up doing absolutely nothing on the college level.
  • If you want to see the individual player grades, follow the link.

    Individual player ratings

  • This entire exercise is of course, very inexact and subject to my personal evaluations of players, but I thought it would be interesting nonetheless. While an attempt was made to be more or less factual, there is obviously some level of subjectivity in the rankings. In the future, I hope to incorporate some success component, which gives credit in some way for victories and the like.

    Now, for the results and comments:

  1. 1997: 65 points, 3.1 AVG/player

    Key Players: Chambers, Stemke, Echols, J. Fletcher, Knight, Kuhns, Sigmund, Anelli, McGrew

    Comments: Big senior years from Mark Anelli and Michael Echols pushed this group to the top of the ratings. Their depth is excellent with the highest per player rating, while the total quantity is right there with the best of Alvarez's classes. Taken with the '96 group, not too shabby and very obvious why the teams of that era were so strong.

  2. 2001: 80 points, 2.8 AVG/player

    Key Players: Starks, Hawthorne, Charles, Orr, Leonhard, Daniels, Raiola, Bernstein, Bell, Sanders

    Comments: This group came on very late, with players like Sanders, Starks, Orr, and Daniels taking on new roles or improving their play fairly late in their careers to notch some steady points. This group was very deep and balanced with a lot of quality starter points. They produced very good but not great teams, which is why they rank behind the '97 class and arguably could rank behind the 1990 class. Still, one of the best classes in the Alvarez era.

  3. 1990: 78 points, 2.6 AVG/player

    Key Players: Dawkins, Montgomery, Fowler, Shackerford, Burgess, Roan, Verstegen, Rudolph, Moss, Thompson, Messenger, Panos, Tucker

    Comments: Stunning. Alvarez's first class, arguably remains one of his best. Granted, the fact that they were his first group gave them a leg up as they were granted tons of immediate playing time. Still, you can't underestimate what this class did for the program. Note the walkon influence was good with Panos, Hein, and Zullo.

  4. 1996: 74 points, 2.5 AVG/player

    Key Players: Favret, Rabach, Dayne, Costa, Janek, Ferrario, Ghidorzi, Kolodziej, Thompson, Mahlik, Doering, Davenport, Pisetsky

    Comments: Another truly marvelous class. This class was deep and talented and formed the nucleus of the Rose Bowl Champion teams of '99 and '00. Even the walkons in this class were good. Tremendous group when combined with the '97 class.

  5. 1998: 61 points, 2.4 AVG/player

    Key players: Boese, Bollinger, Bennett, Greisen, Bryant, N. Davis, Sprague, A. Johnson, B. Johnson, Bry. Thompson

    Comments: A good solid group that held the program together through some poor classes that followed. The class could have been even better if not for the losses of Terry Stephan and Clink Bakken.

  6. 1992: 62 points, 2.3 AVG/player

    Key players: Vanderveldt, Bevell, Hall, Castro, Jurewicz, Engler, Weems, Gales

    Comments: Good overall class with a lot of depth, especially in the line. This class provided much of the depth for the '94 Rose Bowl and Hall of Fame Bowl teams. A solid group. Did not have a lot of NFL type talent, but certainly got a lot of their ability.

  7. 2000: 61 points, 2.3 AVG/player

    Key Players: Broussard, D. Jones, An. Davis, D. Buenning, Clinkscale, Aiello, Jefferson, James, Welsh, Lorenz, Paciotti

    Comments: Another good solid class, similiar to the '92 group. They didn't have a ton of star power beyond James who came on late, but were otherwise pretty good.

  8. 1991: 52 points, 2.2 AVG/player

    Key players: DeRamus, T. Fletcher, Reese, Raymer, Nyquist, Maniecki, Stark, Veit, Unverzagt, Bryan

    Comments: Like the '90 group, this group had the benefit of immediate playing time due to the new coach. However, they also had some NFL type talent on board and decent but not great depth.

  9. 2002: 51 points, 2.2 AVG/player

    Key Players: Watkins, B. Williams, A. Lewis, Stocco, J. Monty, Zalewski, Stellmacher

    Comments: With a good senior year, they have a chance to pick up a few more spots as guys like Zalewski, Stocco, and Stellmacher have a shot to gain some star points. If there isn't much improvement, it will go down as an average class.

  10. 1993: 42 points, 2.1 AVG/player

    Key players: Saleh, Simmons, P. Monty, Brady, Carter, Lysek, Suttle

    Comments: This class had some quality but without the depth of some of the other classes. A very top heavy class with some excellent players but quite a few non-performers which brought down the overall score. This class was hurt by defections, as players like Reggie Torian, Royce Roberson, and Rob Lurstema did not fulfill their early promise. Overall, a mediocre class.

  11. 1994: 33 points, 2.2 AVG/player

    Key players: Campbell, Hayes, Samuel, Adamov, Martin, Taylor

    Comments: The "infamous" post-Rose Bowl class that supposedly wasn't as good as it needed to be. This was the year in which Alvarez had the fewest number of scholarships to work with (only 13 players on the official list). Actually, the quality was decent, with most of the players contributing. It gained some as guys like Taylor and Adamov added a some points late in their careers. The only "big timer" in retrospect was Hayes, and that can be debated. A fair class given the raw numbers, but given the circumstances, it did not hit a "home run" like some had hoped and goes down as fairly disappointing.

  12. 1995: 35 points, 1.4 AVG/player

    Key Players: McIntosh, Gibson, Burke, Merritt

    Comments: This class rates as the second worst of Alverz's tenure so far. What is amazing is that there are three studs in the class accounting for a gob of "recruiting points". Poor depth despite the obvious attributes of the stars. This should have been the real year when Wisconsin should have cleaned up, with the opportunity to recruit this batch for a full year following the first Rose Bowl year. This group was the main reason why so many freshmen and sophomores had to play in '97. Ironically, this class was rated very highly by the pundits.

  13. 1999: 30 points, 1.5 AVG/player

    Key Players: Evans, Mack, Sorgi, B. Tucker, M. Davis

    Comments: What a disaster. Terrible depth and terrible star power. Only Lee Evans saved this class from total disgrace. Sorgi, Mack, and Tucker were solid players, but after that.....ick. This was the year that Alvarez supposedly shot for the star players and came up short on most.

  14. 2003: 28 points, 1.8 AVG/player

    Key Players: Rogers, J. White, Thomas, Cooper

    Comments: A small class that is going to have trouble racking up too many points. They are similiar to the '95 and '99 groups in terms of some top heavy quality, but I don't see a ton of upside beyond what has been scored. Probably will rank around the '94 team when they are done.

  15. 2004: 35 points, 1.5 AVG/player

    Key Players: Chapman, Crooks, Hayden, Urbik, Mehlhaff

    Comments: This group could easily surpass the '03 group as soon as this year. They are already close and if players like Ikegwuounu, Langford, Newkirk, etc move into expanded roles while players like Chapman and Hayden gain star points, they could make a nice jump. I don't see the potential for an elite class though.

  16. 2005: 11 points, 0.5 AVG/player

    Key Players: Casillas, Levy, Shaugnhessy, Kemp, Vandenheuvel

    Comments: Like most groups coming off their true freshman year, it is way too soon to make any kind of evaluation. However, of the last thre groups, I actually like this one as having the best chance of being an elite class. Quite a few move into starting roles this year.

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