Each month, Wisconsin beat reporter Jesse Temple will take a look at the Badgers’ recruiting to-do list here on Land of 10. This outlook focuses on three concerns for the program’s recruiting efforts in the weeks ahead. In this edition, we’ll look at what Wisconsin needs to accomplish in February.
Wisconsin added two commitments to its 2019 class in January, but the Badgers’ work on the recruiting trail is never done. Coaches are still trying to see who else might be available to round out the 2018 class as National Signing Day approaches while presenting scholarship offers to future classes.
Land 1 more commitment in the 2018 class
For months, the biggest question surrounding Wisconsin’s 2018 recruiting class was whether the Badgers would add another piece by the time National Signing Day rolled around. Cornerback Donte Burton became the final committed player in the current class of 19 signees after visiting campus in late September. But the Badgers have room to add another player. So, who ― if anybody ― will that be?
The leading candidate at this stage could be defensive back Rachad Wildgoose (Miami), who is supposed to make a campus visit Feb. 3 ― just four days before signing day. Wildgoose is a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior who has 22 scholarship offers. He de-committed from Georgia on Jan. 14, and his recruitment has been on fire the past few weeks. Wildgoose picked up an Alabama scholarship offer on Jan. 17. He since has taken official visits to Pittsburgh, UCF and North Carolina State. Wildgoose is a 3-star prospect who is ranked as the No. 65 safety in the country in the 247Sports composite.
Wisconsin offered a scholarship in January to outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste, a 6-5, 215-pound senior from Bergen Catholic in New Jersey. He already has taken four of his five allotted official visits: Boston College (Dec. 8), Virginia Tech (Dec. 15), Nebraska (Jan. 12) and Ohio State (Jan. 19). It’s unclear whether he would take his last official visit to Wisconsin. Jean-Baptiste is a 4-star prospect who is rated as the No. 6 player in New Jersey and the No. 16 outside linebacker in the nation.
When January began, the two names who appeared to be in contention to join the Wisconsin class were wide receiver John Jackson (Gardena, Calif.) and cornerback Jairus Brents (Louisville, Ky.). Jackson was supposed to visit in late January but canceled his visit and has moved on to other schools. Brents reportedly did visit. But Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports indicated he is likely to pick Pittsburgh instead.
Continue to offer scholarships in future classes
In January, Wisconsin offered at least 18 known scholarships to prospects in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes. Some of those offers could help set the foundation for future commitments, but it’s a first step in beginning to build relationships with out-of-state prospects. Over the past two months, Wisconsin has offered more than 30 players. This is a great time for the coaching staff to evaluate prospects in between the end of the season and the start of spring football. Coaches have shown they are willing to look across the country for players.
Here’s a rundown of which prospects Wisconsin offered in January:
2018: Outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste (Oradell, N.J.)
2019: Defensive end Marcus Stripling (Houston), defensive tackle Joshua Harris (Roxboro, N.C.), tight end Chris Hickman (Omaha, Neb.), defensive end Cameron Williams (Hollywood, Fla.), defensive back James Williams (Hollywood, Fla.), cornerback Te’Cory Couch (Hollywood, Fla.), tight end Garmon Randolph (Jefferson, Ga.), cornerback Semar Melvin (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), safety Jalen Catalon (Mansfield, Texas), cornerback Salim Turner-Muhammad (Alexandria, Va.), running back Zach Charbonnet (Westlake Village, Calif.) and defensive end Braedon Mowry (Katy, Texas)
2020: Defensive tackle Jonathan Wallace (Baltimore), defensive end Chris Braswell (Baltimore) and tight end Michael Carmody (Mars, Pa.), quarterback Max Johnson (Watkinsville, Ga.) and quarterback Harrison Bailey (Marietta, Ga.)
2021: Tackle Hayden Conner (Katy, Texas)
Continue to see if there’s another 2019 commitment out there
Wisconsin has put together a phenomenal 2019 recruiting class already, landing seven commitments. Two of those commitments came during the final weekend in January, when safety Bryson Shaw (Potomac, Md.) and wide receiver Nolan Groulx (Cornelius, N.C.) committed to the Badgers. Both are listed as 3-star players, but they provide versatility and are capable of helping the team in multiple ways.
Thus far, Wisconsin has the No. 3 recruiting class in the country because of the volume of committed players. Even though that number will drop, it’s been an impressive haul. Wisconsin’s coaches have been able to identify players early who might be good fits, even as those players garner offers from other big-time SEC and Big Ten schools.
Wisconsin’s 13-1 season that culminated with an Orange Bowl victory helped keep the Badgers in the national picture all season. The Badgers have carried that momentum forward into recruiting and will look to continue to roll along in February.