Wisconsin inked all 19 of its committed prospects for the 2018 class by 10 a.m. on the first day of the December early signing period. It was a perfectly Wisconsin type of day, with little in the way of pomp and circumstance. For the Badgers, drama free is the way to be.
But as National Signing Day rolls around Wednesday, the question is this: Will there be any drama left in the Badgers’ class? Wisconsin clearly has been on the recruiting trail attempting to land another prospect. So, what – if anything — can we expect?
The player to watch is Rachad Wildgoose Jr., a 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety from Miami. He was expected to visit Wisconsin’s campus this weekend, just days before National Signing Day. And that final trek up north could make the difference in Wildgoose’s recruitment.
Wildgoose has been through an unusually winding recruitment. He initially committed to Rutgers on April 15 after taking an unofficial visit to Piscataway, N.J. But then scholarship offers began rolling in. Over the course of the next six weeks, he received offers from Florida Atlantic, Oregon State, Florida International, North Carolina State, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin and Temple. On May 25, Wildgoose de-committed from Rutgers.
It didn’t take long for Wildgoose to commit to Georgia on June 2. But he de-committed for a second time on Jan. 14, which sent his recruitment into another whirlwind. Wildgoose picked up an Alabama scholarship offer on Jan. 17. He then took official visits to Pittsburgh, UCF, N.C. State and now Wisconsin.
Rachad Wildgoose senior-season highlights
Wildgoose is a 3-star prospect who ranks as the No. 65 safety in the country in the 247Sports composite. His commitment likely will come down to Wisconsin or UCF. Juan Toribio of 247Sports reported that new UCF coach Josh Heupel made an in-home visit to see Wildgoose one week before he took his official visit there on Jan. 26.
New UCF defensive coordinator Randy Shannon has a lengthy history with Miami Northwestern High School, which is where Wildgoose played. Shannon worked for either the University of Miami or the Miami Dolphins from 1991-2010. He also was the Hurricanes’ coach from 2007-10.
At this stage, there aren’t many uncommitted prospects left from which to choose. While Wildgoose ranks as the No. 65 safety in the country, only seven safeties ranked ahead of him are unsigned or uncommitted. Wisconsin certainly can use help on the back end. The Badgers have only one safety signed in the 2018 class with Reggie Pearson Jr. (River Rouge, Mich.).
Wisconsin has pursued a few different players in the lead-up to signing day that haven’t panned out. Wide receiver John Jackson (Gardena, Calif.) was supposed to take an official visit in late January but canceled and moved on to other schools. Jackson took an official visit to UNLV and told 247Sports reporter Greg Biggins that he was talking to Oregon, Iowa State and Nebraska.
Cornerback Jairus Brents (Louisville, Ky.) was another prospect Wisconsin hoped to land following a lengthy recruitment. Wisconsin offered Brents a scholarship on Sept. 21, 2016. He took an unofficial visit during the 2016 season to watch Wisconsin’s home game against Ohio State in prime time. Brents returned during the 2017 season for Wisconsin’s home finale against Michigan. Brents quickly visited Wisconsin again on Jan. 26, but he appears to be looking elsewhere. Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports reported that Brents would take an official visit this weekend to Cincinnati. The 5-10, 188-pound Brents is the No. 2 player in Kentucky for the 2018 class and the No. 24 cornerback in the country.
Wisconsin offered a scholarship in January to outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste, a 6-5, 215-pound senior from Bergen Catholic in New Jersey. But he won’t be using one of his five official visits to see Madison. Instead, he used his visits on Boston College (Dec. 8), Virginia Tech (Dec. 15), Nebraska (Jan. 12), Ohio State (Jan. 19) and Texas A&M (Feb. 2). 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.
The Badgers have experienced some National Signing Day excitement before. Last year, wide receiver Danny Davis committed to Wisconsin during a ceremony held at Springfield (Ohio) High School, in which he chose Wisconsin over Kentucky and West Virginia. Davis went on to become an instant-impact player for the Badgers during his freshman season.