Wisconsin football recruiting: 5 out-of-state prospects to watch in next class
Wisconsin wrapped up its 2018 recruiting class Wednesday on National Signing by adding its 20th and final prospect to the group. Of those 20 players, 16 came from outside the state of Wisconsin.
So, which out-of-state prospects could be next in 2019? Here is a list of five targets to watch:
RB Steele Chambers
Hometown: Roswell, Ga.
Weight: 215 pounds
Rating: 4-star, No. 39 player in Georgia, No. 31 athlete in the country (247Sports composite)
Steele Chambers has compiled a scholarship offer list of 23 schools from the best programs in the country. But the Badgers remain firmly on his radar and could be a major factor in his recruitment during the coming months. Although Wisconsin already has one running back committed in 2019 with Julius Davis (Menomonee Falls, Wis.), the Badgers continue to look for another tailback to join the class.
Chambers recently told Evan Flood of Badger247 that he has a top seven list of schools that includes Wisconsin, as well as Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Clemson, Notre Dame and Stanford. He intends on visiting Madison in the spring.
As a sophomore, Chambers rushed for 1,486 yards and 21 touchdowns to help Blessed Trinity Catholic team win 10 games and reach the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin told Land of 10 in August that Wisconsin running backs coach John Settle visited the school during the spring. Settle, who played college football at Appalachian State and in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons, has recruiting ties in the Georgia area. Wisconsin then offered Chambers a scholarship Aug. 3.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach a lot of good players in my career,” said McFarlin, who recently finished his 35th season coaching high school football in Georgia. “What you hope for with a highly talented player is that there’ll be something else that’s special that goes along with that. And Steele is one of those guys. You talk to Steele, you see him in school. He’s everything that you would want him to be.”
Chambers followed up his marvelous sophomore season with a strong junior campaign in which he rushed for 1,301 yards with 23 touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns. Over the past two seasons, Chambers has averaged 99.5 yards rushing per game and 6.8 yards per carry.
“In the high school game, so much of it is going to shotgun and spread,” McFarlin said. “But we’re still 21 personnel. We’re still tight end, fullback, tailback, in the I, running downhill. I think part of that is part of the attraction on Steele’s part when it comes to Wisconsin. We’re not too different from what you guys do. And Steele is a bigger back. He’s not a scat back. He’s a big kid.”
S Lewis Cine
Hometown: Everett, Mass.
Weight: 180 pounds
Rating: 4-star, No. 1 player in Massachusetts, No. 3 safety in the country (247Sports)
Lewis Cine is one of the best safeties in the nation and has 25 scholarship offers. And while the 247Sports Crystal Ball predicts Cine will commit to Penn State, Wisconsin has been in the picture for several months.
Cine has a longstanding friendship with former Badgers cornerback Lubern Figaro, who also is from Everett. He has talked with Fugaro about Wisconsin and what to expect during the recruiting process.
“What he said about Wisconsin from watching the games, it’s the type of environment I would like to be in,” Cine told Land of 10 in August. “He says that for him in his recruiting process, he saw real people, real coaches that were real with him instead of being fake. He tells me Wisconsin, they’re nothing but the realest. They’ll keep it 100 with you when it comes to the recruiting process and the family feel.
“He’s been over there for a long time now — for four years. And they treat him like nothing but a family member. He said it’s my decision, but pay close attention to who’s realistic and who’s fake to me.”
Cine told his defensive coordinator before he even had scholarship offers that he wanted his film sent to Wisconsin. He also called his scholarship offer from Wisconsin in August “a surreal moment for me.”
Of course, things can change in just a few short months. Cine took unofficial visits during the season to Boston College and Penn State. He has earned scholarship offers since his season ended from Ole Miss, Georgia and Nebraska.
DE Michael Fletcher
Hometown: Flint, Mich.
Weight: 240 pounds
Rating: 3-star, No. 12 player in Michigan, No. 31 defensive end in the country (247Sports)
Overview: Michael Fletcher took an unofficial visit for Wisconsin’s game against Purdue on Oct. 14 and received a Badgers scholarship offer on the trip. But he’s become a hot commodity on the recruiting trail of late. In January, he took unofficial visits to home-state schools Michigan State and Michigan. He earned scholarship offers from Purdue, Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota. Fletcher now has 14 scholarship offers, with seven of them coming from Big Ten programs.
Wisconsin ranks near the top of Fletcher’s list, but the Badgers will have to battle with Michigan State and Michigan.
“I like Wisconsin,” Fletcher told Allen Trieu of 247Sports after his visit this fall. “It’s a great school. I like what they’re doing. It’s a great place to be. I love the atmosphere up there, and it’s definitely a school I’m looking at.”
Wisconsin has actively recruited Michigan and has five signees from the state in its 2018 class: wide receivers Taj Mustapha and A.J. Abbott (West Bloomfield), tackle Michael Furtney (Milan), safety Reggie Pearson Jr. (River Rouge) and tight end Jaylan Franklin (Rockwood). Wisconsin also nabbed 2019 tackle Logan Brown (Grand Rapids), who is the No. 7 player at his position in the country.
Fletcher noted the experience he had at Wisconsin was memorable.
“Everything seemed brand new. The field is nice, the stadium is nice, the atmosphere is great, student section is crazy, fans are crazy,” Fletcher told Trieu. “It was a great time, and it’s just a great place.”
Fletcher has the skill set to be a solid pass rusher, which you can see in some of his junior season highlights below. On the first highlight, Fletcher pushes past the left tackle and through the running back, then chases down the quarterback to force a fumble.
T Bryce Benhart
Hometown: Lakeville, Minn.
Weight: 310 pounds
Rating: 3-star, No. 2 player in Minnesota, No. 43 tackle in the country (247Sports)
Overview: Wisconsin already has two tackles committed in the 2019 class with 4-star prospects Logan Brown (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Joe Tippmann (Fort Wayne, Ind.). But Bryce Benhart would represent a nice addition and position Wisconsin for one of the best offensive line classes it has ever recruited.
Benhart has 10 scholarship offers: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa State, Northwestern, UCLA, Duke, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Nebraska. Michigan offered Benhart on Jan. 11, Notre Dame offered Jan. 19 and Nebraska offered Jan. 31, so his stock continues to rise.
Wisconsin should feel as though it is in good shape with Benhart, who took unofficial visits to watch the team’s home games against Utah State, Northwestern and Michigan this season. Minnesota and Iowa State could provide Wisconsin with competition.
G Zeke Correll
Weight: 270 pounds
Rating: 4-star, No. 10 player in Ohio, No. 10 guard in the country (247Sports)
Zeke Correll received a Wisconsin scholarship offer in September and visited in October to watch Wisconsin play Purdue. While Correll was impressed with his Wisconsin visit, the 247Sports Crystal Ball projects he’ll ultimately pick Ohio State. Still, as long as Wisconsin is in the mix, the Badgers have a chance. And given how the 2019 recruiting class has come together, that could appeal to a player of Correll’s caliber.
Correll has 23 scholarship offers, and schools have paid particular attention to him since his junior season ended. In January alone, he earned offers from Pitt, Michigan State, Stanford, Iowa, Michigan and Clemson.
Wisconsin has offered scholarships to four guards, but only two remain uncommitted: Correll and Caedan Wallace (Princeton, N.J.), who earned a Badgers offer this week. Nolan Rumler (Akron, Ohio) is committed to Michigan. Jackson Lampley (Nashville, Tenn.) was high on Wisconsin but committed to Tennessee this week.