The Wisconsin football program kicked its 2004 recruiting class off much like it did last season, landing two huge commitments.

The Wisconsin coaching staff was ecstatic to receive commitments from Illinois tailback Jamil Walker and Ladysmith, Wis. defensive lineman Mike Newkirk earlier this week.

Walker, a 6-2, 205-pound speedster from Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill., informed Offensive Coordinator Brian White he would become a Badger on Tuesday.

Wisconsin was thrilled that Walker was the first commit of the class of 2004. The Badgers were hoping to repeat what they accomplished last season, launching their recruiting class with one of the top players in the region.

Last year, Parade All-American Justin Ostrowski was the first commit, and his decision helped set the tone for a wave of important commitments.

Walker's commitment is a significant one, as the Badgers landed a player that was highly recruited by the majority of the Big Ten.

One day later, the Badgers accomplished the next most important goal - landing their first in-state prospect to help build the wall around the state of Wisconsin once again.

The first commitment from the state of Wisconsin this season is Newkirk, a 6-3, 240-pound defensive lineman from Ladysmith.

Newkirk committed to the Badgers on an on-campus visit, coinciding with an electric basketball atmosphere at the Kohl Center, where UW took control of first-place in the Big Ten with a resounding victory over Michigan.

The defensive end prospect is putting his 38-0 record on the line this weekend at the UW Fieldhouse, competing in the heavyweight division of the state wrestling finals.

We will have reaction from Walker and Newkirk on the site next week, and in the next print edition of Badger Nation Magazine.

Badger Nation Top Stories