Everything you need to know and what actually matters about the 2019 Wisconsin Badger recruiting class.
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Wisconsin has turned into the ultimate “recruit to a type” program, but this time around, it stepped up its game a bit. There are real, live, obvious stars to go along with the normal Johnny Three-Stars and walk-ons who’ll grow into All-Big Ten forces. It’s a program that needs a few key parts to get over the top. This class might have it.
It’s not like the rest of the world didn’t go flip crazy trying to get Graham Mertz. The Kansas native is arguably the most skilled quarterback Wisconsin has landed since Russell Wilson transferred in from NC State, and he stuck with his early commitment. Name the big name program, and it made a push to land him. Nope – he might be one fo those missing pieces to upgrade the position in a hurry.
It’s Wisconsin, so of course there are offensive line stars. Michigan native Logan Brown got the full court press from the Wolverines and Michigan State to stay close to home, and Alabama and Ohio State were in on trying to make him a part of the tackle rotation. He’s a bit light for the Badger line and he can handle a bit more weight, but he’ll eventually be a fixture at right tackle.
It continues to be the strangest phenomenon. Alabama is the one program that can compare to Wisconsin in terms of recent running back success, and yet the top backs aren’t flocking to Madison. Jonathan Taylor was a terrific get a few years ago, but getting the five-star types to sign on has been next to impossible. Of course, UW makes stars out of the backs, and Wisconsin native Julius Davis was wanted by USC, LSU and Notre Dame – likely as a defensive back – but the backs are underwhelming.
The Badgers had to restock the shelves at defensive tackle, and they more than did that with three nice options who fit the system. Columbus native Rodas Johnson wasn’t wanted by Ohio State, but Penn State, Oklahoma and Texas were all in on him.
Paul Chryst was all in with his class in December. It would’ve been nice to capitalize more on the Orange Bowl win over Miami, but National Signing Day didn’t mean anything.
Tight end was a need position, and Chryst got two of them. Hayden Rucci is the standout who was in early in the recruiting process. Not wanted by Penn State, he fits the mold of the top of player who Wisconsin gets and then turns into a killer fixture in the attack. If all goes according to plan, he’ll soon become fast friends with Mertz as the go-to third down target.
The defensive ends have to come in next year. The 2018 class was a bit light on them, and there weren’t any in this year’s class. However, they could come from the linebacking group. Even so, there have to be a few coming in 2020.
Can this be the breakthrough group? This might be forever known as the Graham Mertz class, but again, it’s better than most recent recruiting seasons. Chryst has found his stride, and next year should be even better if he can keep star OT prospect Trey Wedig in-state.
Now it’s time to get one of the premier backs in 2020 – Kendall Milton out of California or Zachary Evans from Houston – to sign on.