National Signing Day primer, potentially late addition to the class of 2017 and Wisconsin’s defense smothers Illinois
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Today is Wednesday, Feb. 1, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
On the dotted line
Wisconsin will introduce its class of 2017 on Wednesday, with 16 players expected to sign National Letters of Intent with he possibility the Badgers will add one more (see below) during the day.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been profiling the newest Badgers, a class that is currently ranked 11th in the Big Ten and 47th in the country by 247 Sports. Here’s your chance to catch up.
OL Alex Fenton and LS Adam Bay
DL Aaron Vopal and S Scott Nelson
OL Logan Bruss and WR Cade Green
OL Tyler Beach and WR Emmet Perry
TE Jake Ferguson and CB Faion Hick
OLB Andrew Van Ginkel and OLB Izayah Green-May
OL Kayden Lyles and CB Madison Cone
QB Jack Coan and RB Jonathan Taylor
Potential impact walk-ons
Big commit late?
It’s very rare, at least for Wisconsin, to get a high-profile splash commitment on National Signing Day. But that appears to be exactly what could happen, as 4-star wide receiver Danny Davis will announce his decision in the afternoon.
Thought by many to be a heavy Kentucky lean, with West Virginia and Wisconsin on the outside, things apparently shifted this week, with more than a dozen writers at 247Sports changing their prediction to the Badgers.
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) January 31, 2017
Getting the Springfield (Ohio) product would be significant to Wisconsin’s class of 2017. Based on the 247Sports composite, Davis would be the Badgers’ second-highest rated recruit this year, and the highest-rated wide receiver to sign since Kraig Appleton in 2009.
Some of the best receivers to play at Wisconsin have come from the state of Ohio, including Lee Evans and Chris Chambers, both under-the-radar guys who turned into All-Big Ten players who went on to be early-round NFL draft picks. No one can say if Davis will become that if he signs with the Badgers, but the eighth-rated recruit in the talent-rich state of Ohio has plenty of talent.
Defense pushes Wisconsin to victory
The numbers tell you all you need to know about Wisconsin’s 57-43 win at Illinois on Tuesday night.
The Illini were held 37 points below their scoring average at home, posted their lowest output of the season no matter the venue and managed to make just 27.6 percent of their shots. If not for the 16 offensive rebounds they grabbed, things could have been much uglier.
One of the more amazing stats: The last time Illinois scored more than 70 points vs. UW was Jan. 25, 2005. That's 25 games at 70 or below.
— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) February 1, 2017
Ethan Happ recorded his seventh double-double of the year with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Nigel Hayes added 11 points and eight rebounds, including a monster put-back dunk.
Nigel doing his thing. pic.twitter.com/yBw9wX4Dqa
— Big Ten Geeks (@bigtengeeks) February 1, 2017
Wisconsin got contributions from guys up and down its roster. Sophomore Khalil Iverson drilled a pair of 3-pointers and was strong on defense, while sophomore Charlie Thomas had a pair of blocks. Even walk-on Aaron Moesch provided a lift off the bench, grabbing three offensive rebounds on a single possession.
That Wisconsin was in such command at State Farm Center, a place that used to be a house of horrors for them in the first 10 years of former coach Bo Ryan’s tenure, says plenty about this talented and experienced team. This is an Illinois team that had lost just two home games this season, both coming by four points. But Wisconsin jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half and things never got closer than six points in the second half, thanks, in part, to a 3-pointer by Zak Showalter that ended the only real challenge Illinois made all night.
The win was the first under coach Greg Gard where the Badgers scored fewer than 60 points, and they’ve now won games this year when scoring in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. That’s a sign of a team that can beat you in many different ways, something that will become vital down the stretch, and for what Wisconsin hopes is a run deep into March and perhaps early April.
Two of the more colorful personalities on the Wisconsin football team are on the mend.
Kicker Rafael Gaglianone, who was lost for the season after the first three games after back surgery, has started kicking again, and linebacker Chris Orr, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, has also resumed workouts.
Blessed to be back doing what I love! pic.twitter.com/OlH9pE34Bs
— Rafael Gaglianone (@rafagaglianone) February 1, 2017
— Chris Orr (@Chris_Guwap) February 1, 2017
Gaglianone was poised to have a huge bounce-back junior year after not kicking to his expectations in 2015. The season started with a game-winning 47-yard field to beat LSU, and he was 6 of 6 before injuring himself against Georgia State. Senior Andrew Endicott came on and did a solid job filling in, but Gaglianone has the leg and mentality to be an elite kicker.
Orr’s return adds to an already loaded group of guys at inside linebacker, with the sophomore joining the likes of T.J. Edwards, Ryan Connelly and Jack Cichy in the depth chart.
- From Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal: Nigel Hayes doesn’t get enough credit for his defense.
- Madison.com’s Tom Oates writes that the Wisconsin hockey team is way ahead of schedule in its quest to return to national prominence.
- Signing day is a big deal, but not everything for the Big Ten, according to ESPN.com.