Notes: The Youth Movement

While his first recruiting cycle didn't pan out the way he wanted it to, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema can't help but be excited with the players his staff has brought in over the last two years, providing immediate dividends or building solid depth.

MADISON – Rewind the game film from Saturday's 37-0 blasting of Purdue and two of the many key contributors that pop up are Chris Borland and David Gilbert.

Borland, who was named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week Sunday, registered four tackles, two fumble recovering and one forced fumble in his first start while Gilbert's athletic jump over a three-man wedge caused a punt block that UW returned for a touchdown.

The plays they made were athletic and the players were key to the momentum of Wisconsin during the course of the game. They also represented the youth movement of Wisconsin – both players are true freshman – and represent how much better recruiting has gotten under head coach Bret Bielema.

In Bielema's first recruiting class , a 23-member class in 2006, 10 players have left the Wisconsin program.

But as Bielema settled on his staff, the numbers of contributors have risen. From the 2006 class, 11 players are starting this season, John Clay and Josh Oglesby are the jewels of the 2007 class and all the young talent from the 2008 and 2009 class have been the backbone of the Badgers' 6-2 record.

"My first year, because of the way that season (played) out, (I) didn't want to make any transitions with the staff until after (the) Hawaii (game)," Bielema recalled Monday. "It really hamstrung that first class and at the time, I didn't want to believe it or see it.

"Now when I see the bottom line results of the guys we brought in on the class and how much of a factor they are in our program now, it's pretty easy to see. The next year was better and the last two have been dramatically different."

While Bielema has said many times that recruiting players involves the entire staff and not just one single position coach, it's hard not to recognize the efforts of tight end coach Joe Rudolph and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge.

In the past two recruiting cycles, both Rudolph and Partridge have recruited seven players to the program, including Borland (Rudolph) and Gilbert (Partridge).

"I've got coaches that I need to put together game plans – Paul Chryst and Dave Doeren," Bielema said. "The other seven guys have got to contribute in their own way. It's the Kentucky Derby theory of coaching. You can't win the race if you don't have the right horse. If we don't have the right horses, we wouldn't have success over time."

That success looks to be continuing for Bielema and his staff. Of the 17 members that are verbally committed to the 2010 recruiting class, 12 are a three-star player and one is a four-star player by Scout.com, giving Wisconsin currently the 30th-ranked recruiting class in the country.

Standout Sherer

Starting the final seven games last season, Dustin Sherer completed 93-of-172 passes for 1,246 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions and came into camp listed as the starting quarterback. Times of changed for the fifth-year senior, who is back to third on depth chart.

But the senior from Arcadia, Indiana, hasn't pouted, wavered or caused unrest in the locker room. Instead, he's been the calming influence for junior quarterback Scott Tolzien and has been a great influence on Bielema and his players.

"Dustin's probably more engaged than anybody could ever imagine on game day," Bielema said. "He's saying things on every play. There are so many times that you want a fifth-year senior to go out and start every game and win them all. I can't give any award or any recognition to anyone more deserving than him."

No Vote for Bielema

The Badgers make their highest appearance in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week, being ranked at No.22, but don't look at Bielema as the reason for the high ranking.

"I figured that when we got voted into it, you guys thought I voted us number one," Bielema joked.

After having a vote the previous two years, Bielema lost his vote by chance after an independent company determined that the Big Ten coaches had one more vote that it should. Even though he's not a current voting member, Bielema admitted to turning in his ballot on time, doing the poll himself and putting a great deal in thought into it, which is why he believes the poll carries so much significance in determining a national champion.

"I know there's a certain debate that the coaches poll should have less weight in the BCS formula, but I think coaches have a greater appreciation of who is a good football team," Bielema said. "I think the large reason we moved up so quickly was it was a 37-0 win. If it was 37-24, I would still think it's a pretty impressive win based on what I have seen Purdue do the past two weeks."

"I would pay attention to certain games and see how things happen and watch as much as I could, even try to figure out if it was a close game and who played well."

Extra Points: Next weekend, Wisconsin will host its home regular season finale against Michigan will be at 11 a.m. televised on the Big Ten Network … Lance Kendricks was the Offensive MVP, Dan Moore, Devin Smith and Jeff Stehle were the Defensive MVPs, David Gilbert was the Special Teams MVP … CB Kevin Claxton (concussion) is questionable for Saturday's game ... Freshman defensive lineman Pat Muldoon suffered a torn ACL injury recently in practice and is expected to miss all of spring practice before returning for summer workouts.


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