Recruiting never stops in Badgers country, and we’re here to help put it all in perspective. Join us every Tuesday and Thursday night for a recap of Wisconsin recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Commitment impact of Bryson Shaw, Nolan Groulx
Last week, I wrote a column that detailed why Wisconsin’s 2019 recruiting class has a chance to be the best in the online rankings era and how it could be a program-changer for the Badgers. My rationale was that Wisconsin has been praised continually through the years for doing “more with less.” But the time had come for the Badgers to show what could happen when they have the opportunity to do “more with more.”
Since then, the 2019 class has only improved.
Wisconsin received commitments over the weekend from safety Bryson Shaw (Potomac, Md.) and wide receiver Nolan Groulx (Cornelius, N.C.). That means the Badgers already have seven committed players in the class. The only schools with more committed players are Miami and BYU.
It also means Wisconsin now ranks No. 3 nationally in the 2019 team rankings and No. 1 in the Big Ten. Consider that since the 247Sports composite began fully in 2002, Wisconsin never has ranked higher than No. 30 nationally and No. 5 among Big Ten teams.
Of course, Wisconsin’s final recruiting ranking ultimately will drop as other blue-blood programs sign more 4- and 5-star prospects. But what the Badgers already have achieved is remarkable relative to their recruiting history. They have three 4-star prospects and four 3-star players. And while Shaw and Groulx are both rated as 3-star prospects, they provide dynamic skill sets that should excite the Badgers fan base.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Shaw originally committed as a high school freshman to play lacrosse at Maryland and is ranked as the No. 8 lacrosse player in the country, according to Recruiting Rundown. But he shined on the football field while playing for Bullis School. He has scholarship offers from Duke, Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest and West Virginia. He also was being pursued by Ohio State and Penn State.
According to the Carroll County (Md.) Times, 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 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.
“The first thing that sticks out is his speed and elusiveness,” Bullis School football coach Pat Cilento told Land of 10. “But what sticks out in my mind is how competitive he is. We’ve had a lot of great players come through our school. I think we have nine in the Big Ten if you include him. But he is probably the most competitive one in the bunch. He just wants to compete and won’t be outdone.”
Groulx, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior, has scholarship offers from North Carolina 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.
Matt Jenkins, who is Groulx’s football coach at Hough High School, said his star receiver showed no fear this season after transferring from Davidson Day. During practices, he routinely went after teammate Tyus Fields, a cornerback who is rated as the No. 4 player in North Carolina for the 2019 class and also has a Wisconsin scholarship offer.
“He and Tyus will go at it all day,” Jenkins told Land of 10. “There’s some people who would be intimidated by Tyus at corner, and Nolan’s not one of those kids. You could just tell from that standpoint that he was going to be really good. He doesn’t shy away from competition. He wants the best guy on him and because of that he continues to get better.”
Groulx has been used in high school at multiple receiver spots, on screen passes, jet sweeps and even out of the backfield as a ball carrier on outside zone plays. Shaw plays all over the field for his high school team, at safety, receiver and as a kick and punt returner. Their versatility will provide them with more opportunities to impact the game at Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s coaching staff continues to impress by showing it can land quality out-of-state players who hold scholarship offers from programs that are every bit as prestigious as the Badgers. The staff has achieved its goals by remaining humble and down to earth, which resonates with players who aren’t interested in the bravado some other programs provide. It’s less of a strategy at Wisconsin and more of a way of life. Given what already has transpired, expect Wisconsin’s recruiting success to continue in 2019.
No. 1 TE Hudson Henry has ‘fantastic visit’ to Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s quest to compile the best recruiting class in school history is nowhere near done. One piece that would help push the Badgers’ 2019 class over the top is Hudson Henry, who is ranked as the No. 1 tight end in the country in the 247Sports composite.
Henry, a 6-5, 225-pound junior from Little Rock, Ark., visited Wisconsin over the weekend and tweeted that he had a “fantastic visit.”
I had a fantastic visit to the University of Wisconsin today! It awesome to hang out with Coach Turner and Coach Miller! So thankful for Coach Chryst and his staff for letting me visit for the day! #OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/xdvK75ZWpq
— Hudson Henry (@hudsonhenry84) January 28, 2018
Henry caught 72 passes for 984 yards with 10 touchdowns this past season, and he continues to pick up scholarship offers. He tweeted Monday after returning from his Wisconsin visit that he had earned an Ohio State offer. Henry also has offers from Arkansas, Notre Dame, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, Texas, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.
Henry is considered an Arkansas lean at this stage, given his family history there. His older brother, Hunter Henry, was an All-America tight end for the Razorbacks from 2013-15 and is now in the NFL with the Los Angeles Chargers. Another brother, Hayden Henry, is currently a linebacker at Arkansas. His father, Mark Henry, was an offensive lineman at Arkansas from 1988 to 1991.
Wisconsin has scholarship offers out to five uncommitted tight ends in the 2019 class. Hayden Rucci (Lititz, Pa.) is another tight end prospect who is high on the Badgers. He is the No. 10 tight end in the class.
Badgers offer scholarships to multiple players
Wisconsin’s scholarship offer list for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes continues to grow. Here’s a look at which players the Badgers have offered in the last several days:
2019 S Jalen Catalon (Mansfield, Texas)
— Jalen Catalon (@jcatalon27) January 26, 2018
Catalon is a 5-9, 180-pound junior from Mansfield, Texas, who is rated as a 4-star prospect and the No. 8 safety in the country, according to the 247Sports composite. Catalon’s offer list reads like a who’s who and includes Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma and Texas. He has earned scholarship offers in the last week from Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas Tech. In total, Catalon has 20 offers.
Catalon was named the Dallas Morning News all-area defensive player of the year after he recorded 101 tackles with 3 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles and 5 fumble recoveries. He also started at quarterback and passed for 1,122 yards with 15 touchdowns while adding 1,064 rushing yards and 13 scores. Catalon, a first-team all-state selection on defense, helped his team reach the Class 5A Division II state semifinals, which was the deepst playoff run in program history, according to the Morning News.
2019 CB Salim Turner-Muhammad (Alexandria, Va.).
— SalimTurner-Muhammad (@TurnerSalim) January 25, 2018
Turner-Muhammad is a 6-foot, 170-pound junior who has scholarship offers from Duke, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He is a 3-star prospect who is rated as the No. 9 player in Virginia and the No. 39 cornerback in the nation.
2020 TE Michael Carmody (Mars, Pa.)
— Michael Carmody (@MichaelCarmod10) January 30, 2018
Carmody is a 6-6 tight end and defensive end. He has two other scholarship offers, from Maryland and Pittsburgh.
2019 RB Zach Charbonnet (Westlake Village, Calif.)
Jon McNamara of BadgerBlitz.com reported that Charbonnet earned a Wisconsin scholarship offer on Monday. He is a 6-1, 192-pound junior who is rated as a 3-star prospect. Charbonnet holds offers from California, Colorado, Iowa State, Oregon State, San Jose State, UCLA, Utah and Washington.
Charbonnet rushed for 2,049 yards during his junior season with 23 touchdowns and averaged 7.7 yards per carry. He caught 27 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. Even though the Badgers already have a commitment in the 2019 class from running back Julius Davis (Menomonee Falls, Wis.), it’s clear they’re looking for another tailback.
Badgers offer Texas teammates
Wisconsin ventured down to Taylor High School in Katy, Texas, and offered scholarships to 2019 defensive end Braedon Mowry and 2021 offensive tackle Hayden Conner.
Blessed to receive an offer from the university of Wisconsin!! Go badgers!!🔴⚪️ pic.twitter.com/T0FKghpFME
— Braedon Mowry (@BMowry2k19) January 29, 2018
Mowry is a 6-4, 235-pound junior who has 14 offers. That list includes Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Ole Miss, Texas, Texas Tech and Utah. He is a 4-star prospect who ranks as the No. 38 player in Texas and the No. 20 weak-side defensive end in the country, per the 247Sports composite.
Words can’t express…just spoke with @CoachJoeRudolph and have received an offer from @BadgerFootball Extremely grateful and humbled. Looking forward to getting back to Madison! #OnWisconsin #Badgers pic.twitter.com/jFale2KuAy
— Hayden Conner (@HaydenConner) January 29, 2018
Conner is a 6-6, 290-pound freshman with offers from Miami, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Tulane and Wisconsin. Here are the highlights from Mowry and Conner last season.
RB Nakia Watson earns fourth star from 247Sports
When running back Nakia Watson committed to Wisconsin in the summer before his senior season, his national profile had yet to fully elevate. Wisconsin represented his only Power 5 conference scholarship offer, with his others coming from Bowling Green, Nevada, North Texas, Ohio, Sam Houston State and Texas State.
But the Badgers’ coaching staff ultimately proved once again how adept the group has been at identifying talent before other programs. Watson put together an impressive senior season in which he rushed for 1,837 yards with 27 touchdowns and averaged 6.9 yards per carry. He also caught 18 passes for 327 yards and 6 touchdowns to guide Austin (Texas) Westlake to a 14-1 record and a state semifinal appearance in the playoffs.
Given his strong season-long performance, 247Sports took notice and provided the 5-11, 212-pound Watson with a ratings bump. He earned a fourth star and moved up to the No. 47 player in Texas and the No. 11 running back nationally. Watson remains a 3-star player in the 247Sports composite, but it’s clear the Badgers found another quality player in the 2018 class to carry on the program’s running back tradition.