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. Here, we’ll look back on what happened in those three areas in January.
Wisconsin’s month on the recruiting trail was quite eventful. The Badgers offered scholarships to several prospects and collected two more commitments in the 2019 class, bringing the tally to seven players.
Continue to offer prospects in future classes
Wisconsin pursued players in the 2019 class and even added some offers in 2020 and 2021. Two of the most notable January offers were to quarterbacks in the 2020 class. Wisconsin offered Max Johnson (Watkinsville, Ga.) and Harrison Bailey (Marietta, Ga.).
Johnson completed 125 of 235 passes (53 percent) for 1,918 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his sophomore season. He was selected as the Region 8-AAAA offensive player of the year.
Johnson, son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson, has 10 scholarship offers, from Florida State, Miami, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin. That’s a pretty substantial list and one that likely makes it difficult for the Badgers to contend. Johnson attended summer camps at North Carolina, Florida State, LSU and Georgia. He also took unofficial visits this fall to Miami and LSU.
Johnson is a 4-star prospect who is rated as the No. 10 player in Georgia and the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class, per 247Sports.
Bailey has been one of the most talked-about quarterbacks in the 2020 class even before he took a high school snap. He earned a scholarship offer from Miami as an eighth grader. North Carolina, Florida, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Alabama all offered before his freshman season began.
Bailey, another 4-star prospect, already has at least 18 known scholarship offers. Some of the others include Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Bailey is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound sophomore who ranks as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class. As a freshman, he threw for 2,815 yards with 21 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Bailey played in only six games last season as a sophomore because of an injury and completed 126 of 203 passes (62.1 percent) for 1,824 yards with 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Here’s a rundown of which other known prospects Wisconsin offered this month:
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.)
2021: tackle Hayden Conner (Katy, Texas)
Land 1 more commitment in 2018 class
Wisconsin signed all 19 of its 2018 commits by 10 a.m. on the first day of the December early signing period. But the Badgers continued to try and land one more prospect in the class leading up to National Signing Day.
Wisconsin offered a scholarship in January to outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound senior from Bergen Catholic in New Jersey. Jean-Baptiste now has 23 scholarship offers, which include Nebraska and Ohio State. The likelihood of the Badgers landing Jean-Baptiste appears to be slim. He already has taken four of his five allotted official visits to Boston College (Dec. 8), Virginia Tech (Dec. 15), Nebraska (Jan. 12) and Ohio State (Jan. 19).
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 country, according to the 247Sports composite.
Wisconsin had hoped to get a visit from wide receiver John Jackson (Gardena, Calif.). But he cancelled the visit, and the Badgers are no longer being considered. Jackson finished his senior season in Gardena, Calif., with 63 catches for 573 yards with 2 touchdowns. As a junior, he caught 32 passes for 411 yards with 6 touchdowns. Jackson was considering UCLA, as well as Big Ten schools Nebraska and Illinois.
It remains to be seen what cornerback Jairus Brents (Louisville, Ky.) ultimately decides. Brents is the No. 2 player in Kentucky for the 2018 class, and he was strongly considering both Wisconsin and Pittsburgh. Brents visited Wisconsin near the end of the month. But Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports made a Crystal Ball prediction in favor of Pitt.
Brents earned first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior at Louisville Waggener. According to the Courier-Journal, he recorded 62 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions this season. He also was a dynamic threat on offense and played quarterback for Waggener. He passed for 972 yards with 13 touchdowns and ran for 481 yards. Brents scored 15 total touchdowns (8 rushing, 2 receiving, 2 kickoff returns, 2 punt returns and 1 interception return).
Wisconsin still appears to be looking for one more piece in the 2018 class, but the Badgers have yet to receive a commitment.
Keep the momentum rolling in 2019 recruiting class
Wisconsin secured two big commitments during the final weekend in January, when safety Bryson Shaw (Potomac, Md.) and wide receiver Nolan Groulx (Cornelius, N.C.) pledged to the Badgers. Wisconsin now has seven committed players in the 2019 class, which is currently the third most in the country. That’s a big reason the Badgers rank No. 3 in the country with its 2019 recruiting class.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Shaw originally committed as a high school freshman to play lacrosse at Maryland and is considered to be one of the top-10 lacrosse players in the country for 2019. Given how much time he spent on lacrosse, he has tremendous upside on the football field when he can fully devote his time to the sport. He held football scholarship offers from Duke, Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest and West Virginia. He also was being pursued by Ohio State and Penn State.
Shaw finished his junior season with 27 catches for 474 yards and 5 touchdowns. He carried 39 times for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns. He scored touchdowns in five different ways during his team’s first four games: kickoff return, punt return, touchdown catch, touchdown run and fumble return. Shaw intercepted 3 passes and returned two of them for touchdowns.
Groulx, a 6-foot, 185-pound prospect, held scholarship offers from N.C. State, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Duke, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. He finished his junior season with 75 catches for 1,101 yards with 8 touchdowns to earn all-conference honors. Both players are versatile prospects that could impact the game in multiple ways for the Badgers.