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Today is Tuesday, Jan. 24, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
The next class
National Signing Day is a week from Wednesday, and Wisconsin is essentially done with its class, sitting at 16 commitments. In the lead-up to Feb. 1, we’ve been going through the newest Badgers to give you a little better idea who each guy is and his potential impact this fall.
We continue that with tight end Jake Ferguson and cornerback Faion Hicks.
Who: Jake Ferguson
What: 6-foot-5, 210-pound tight end
From: Madison, Wis.
247 Ranking: 3 stars, No. 12 tight end in the country
Quick look: Ferguson is the brother of senior safety Joe Ferguson and the grandson of former coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez. An extremely athletic player, Ferguson really shined at various camps last summer after catching 64 passes for 991 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
2017 impact: Wisconsin has a bit of logjam at tight end with a lot of young guys sitting behind senior Troy Fumagalli and sophomore Kyle Penniston, but there might be an opportunity for him to help as a receiver. Still, it seems likely he’ll redshirt.
Who: Faion Hicks
What: 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback
From: Hollywood, Fla.
247 Ranking: 3 stars, No. 184 cornerback in the country
Quick look: Wisconsin went back to South Florida to try to hit it big again at the cornerback spot, plucking Hicks from the same area that produced Sojourn Shelton and Derrick Tindal. Hicks chose the Badgers over offers from a lot of non-Power 5 teams, but Wisconsin believes it got a big-time sleeper.
2017 impact: Unlike Shelton and Tindal, who were needed right away when they arrived on campus, there is a glut of bodies at cornerback. Even though Hicks enrolled early, he seems destined to redshirt.
What they’re saying
The two players from Wisconsin likely to come off the board first in the NFL draft are both underclassmen — offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and outside linebacker T.J. Watt — so they won’t have the opportunity to take part in the Senior Bowl happenings in Mobile, Ala., this week. But a couple other former Badgers — running back Corey Clement and outside linebacker Vince Biegel — are there, while running back Dare Ogunbowale was in Florida last week for the East-West Shrine Game.
Here’s a look at what some of the observers of last week’s activities are saying about the draft-hopeful Badgers, and a little preview of what people expect from Biegel and Clement this week.
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: “Third-down, change-of-direction running back. He was a complement to Corey Clement at Wisconsin, but he’s getting a chance this week to show what he can do. He catches the ball extremely well. He stoned a couple of linebackers in the one-on-one catching drills. Where he’s going to make a living for himself is on third downs in the NFL. I really enjoyed watching him.”
Mike Kaye, FirstCoastNews.com: “If you like one-cut running backs, Wisconsin’s Dare Ogunbowale is probably a guy you should pay attention to. He cuts with confidence and he was able to get through defenders cleanly on Tuesday.”
Charles Goldman, USA Today Network: “Ogunbowale is a change-of-pace running back. In the NFL you’ll see him a lot on third down, and he’ll be asked to catch the ball out of the backfield (which he does well). During the Shrine game, Ogunbowale showcased that if he gets the ball in space he has bit of wiggle to him and can at least make the first guy miss. He also has a decent jump cut. He’ll need to work on his power, but he appears to have strong base to work with.”
Joseph Hatz, Blogging the Boys: “Another potential backup running back who could be available on Day 3. Was solid as a senior but didn’t do much in the three years prior. Can he catch the ball out of the backfield?”
— ESPN Pensacola (@ESPNPensacola) January 23, 2017
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: “Wisconsin’s Corey Clement and San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey are extremely decorated college backs who don’t fit the ideal NFL mold but should find good landing spots.”
Luke Easterling, USA Today Network: “Biegel’s 2016 production was down, but a quick look at his previous two seasons shows what he’s capable of, with 15.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss over that stretch. At 6-4, 245 pounds, Biegel should be a solid fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level, where he should excel at setting the edge, stuffing the run and providing a bump in the pass-rush department.”
Joe McAtee, Turf Show Times: “Alabama OLB Ryan Anderson has to be on the Rams’ radar. Wisconsin OLB Vince Biegel isn’t as athletic, but could be a good technical add.”
For the first time since March 2015, Sam Dekker was back in Wisconsin and playing basketball. The former Badgers star returned Monday night with the Houston Rockets as they took on the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 24, 2017
His play — and the outcome of the game — probably wasn’t what the Sheboygan, Wis., native imagined. Milwaukee upset Houston, 127-114, to snap a five-game losing streak, and Dekker managed just four points on 2 of 7 shooting. It was a far cry from his 30-point effort on Saturday night in his first start.
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) January 24, 2017
If his recent performances are any indication, Dekker will have plenty of opportunities to play in Milwaukee in the future. He’s shown, since missing last year because of a back injury, that he was worthy of his first-round selection. Dekker fits much better in the NBA, and especially the Rockets, than he did at Wisconsin. And that’s not a knock on former coach Bo Ryan and the Badgers, it’s just that the up-and-down nature of the game Houston plays is perfect for an athlete like Dekker. He’s got very bright days ahead.
We touched on how clutch Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig has been in his career on Monday, and it appears we aren’t alone in our thinking.
Michigan coach John Beilein, who had a front-row seat last Tuesday for Koenig’s late heroics in rallying the Badgers for a win over the Wolverines, took time to comment on the senior during his radio show.
John Beilein on weekly radio show says Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig has "ice water running all through his body."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) January 24, 2017
Koenig has a reputation now, and it’s one he deserves. But it’s also possible he might not be getting enough attention.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 23, 2017
If Wisconsin keeps winning, it’ll be in large part because of Koenig, and he won’t be lacking for praise.
- Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week and was one of two Big Ten players on the midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
- The Badgers went 2-0 last week and saw a jump in the national polls as a result.
- Former Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon didn’t get his 1,000-yard season, but he is going to the Pro Bowl.
- From Scott Dochterman: Indirectly, Iowa’s offensive reshuffle focuses on getting past Wisconsin.