Wisconsin watches Malik Zaire make expected choice, Badgers make Ohio RB’s list, Jonathan Taylor wins state and more
We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
Today is Monday, June 5, and this is what’s for breakfast.
Malik Zaire chose as expected … and that’s good for Wisconsin
After more than seven months, our long national nightmare is over. OK, it’s not that bad. But finally … former Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire finally made official what had appeared as a likelihood since December when he pushed off his college choice to the spring — he expects to finish his career in the SEC at Florida.
Spoke to Malik Zaire. He told me he expects to head to #UF on Wednesday & said he's very excited about the opportunity to play in the SEC.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) June 4, 2017
When Zaire made his announcement that he would be leaving the Fighting Irish, the Badgers were considered among the favorites to land the athletic left-handed quarterback. He visited Wisconsin while in high school and recruiting analysts believed the Badgers had a good chance of landing him until then-offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and then-tight ends coach Joe Rudolph left for Pittsburgh after the 2011 season.
With Chryst back as Wisconsin’s head coach, and Rudolph as offensive coordinator, the connection was obvious. Zaire even visited in December. But once he decided not to enroll anywhere for the spring semester, they moved on, either not wanting to wait or knowing that the delay was going to lead to what eventually happened.
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) March 21, 2017
Zaire would have been a nice addition to Wisconsin’s roster, especially in a quarterback room that is heavy on youth and light on experience. But it was also apparent that he really didn’t want to spend any more time carrying a clipboard on the sideline as a backup. It’s how he spent most of his time Notre Dame.
At Wisconsin, that would have been a possibility because even the harshest critics of Alex Hornibrook couldn’t sit there and say Zaire was better than him. It was impossible to know, and if he had come, it would be a lot more likely that the two would share time than Zaire winning the starting job outright. That wasn’t a gamble he was willing to take, instead going where there will be an open competition.
That Wisconsin fans got excited when Zaire was mentioned as a possibility is among the more predictable reactions in sports. So often when transfer quarterbacks become available, images of Russell Wilson start popping into the minds of Badgers fans. But Wilson is largely an outlier — especially for Wisconsin, which has also seen the likes of Allan Evridge, Danny O’Brien and Tanner McEvoy come in from other schools and not have anywhere close to the same success.
Chryst approached this the right way. With two quarterbacks behind Hornibrook who haven’t taken a snap at the college level, going after Zaire made sense. But the coach wasn’t desperate. He has a starting quarterback in Hornibrook who he knows can help him win football games. And that’s all that matters.
Tavion Thomas cuts his list, and …
The groans from those who follow Wisconsin recruiting were likely quite loud the day Ohio State offered 2018 Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar RB Tavion Thomas a scholarship. Wisconsin was the first Power 5 school to offer the 6-foot-2, 225-pound 247Sports 3-star prospect, offering in January, a month before the Buckeyes.
But when the Buckeyes offer an in-state kid, and that kid then takes two unofficial visits to Columbus, you expect them to be the favorite and in the hunt to the end. But that doesn’t appear to be the case this time, as Thomas released his top 7 schools on Saturday, and Ohio State was not among them. And the Badgers were.
Top 7 🏈 videos cumin soon 😁🏈 pic.twitter.com/5RSL52c4ZV
— lackofworries🎈🎈 (@tavionthomas937) June 3, 2017
Here at Land of 10, Jeremey Birmingham broke down why the No. 18 RB in the country is no longer considering Ohio State, with the main points being that the Buckeyes are chasing the nation’s No. 1 RB in Zamir White, and Thomas might not be a “program fit amid off-the-field question marks.”
The second part of that reasoning would give us pause, but Wisconsin knows the kid as well as anyone. Based on their history, if there is an issue, the Badgers likely won’t continue to pursue him. As it stands, it doesn’t look like there is a problem and Thomas is expected to visit Madison this month.
From simply a football perspective, Thomas would be quite the get for the Badgers. With offers from the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU and Georgia, the talent is clearly there. Plus he’s Wisconsin’s top target for 2018 at his position. How the rest of his recruitment plays out might be the most interesting element to watch for Chryst & Co. in this upcoming class.
Taking home the title
A week after recording the fastest 100-meter dash in New Jersey this year, Jonathan Taylor was back on the track this weekend at his state’s track and field championships. And though the Wisconsin signee didn’t top his sectional time of 10.49 seconds, he ran fast enough to become back-to-back 100-meter state champion.
Back 2 back group 1 state 100m champ🙌🏾
— Jonathan Taylor (@23J_Taylor) June 3, 2017
As we outlined after Taylor’s sectional run, the running back will bring some speed to the Wisconsin backfield. When we actually get to see that on the field remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the 6-foot, 215-pound Taylor force the coaches to take notice early in his time in Madison.
New numbers unveiled
The newest additions to the Wisconsin men’s basketball team will be arriving on campus soon, but the trio of freshmen already know what numbers they’ll wear during their careers. The Badgers have updated their roster, removing the five graduating players and adding guards Kobe King and Brad Davison, along with forward Nathan Reuvers.
Incoming #Badgers jersey numbers: Kobe King 23
Brad Davison 34
Nathan Reuvers 35
— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) June 3, 2017
Changing the roster seems like a small thing, but it’s the unofficial start of a new season — and in Wisconsin’s case, a new era. Everyone who played a game-day role in the run to back-to-back Final Fours is no longer around.
#34 🔴⚪️🙏🏻 https://t.co/jieekMfWFr
— Brad Davison (@braddavi34) June 4, 2017
- What the magazines say: 2017 Wisconsin Badgers
- From Jason Galloway at the Wisconsin State Journal: Former Badgers RB Corey Clement eager to prove himself with Eagles after going undrafted.
- Former Wisconsin basketball star Sam Dekker took in a Milwaukee Brewers game during the weekend and managed to find time to get a picture with the famous racing sausages.