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.
4-star OL John Olmstead ‘very interested’ in Wisconsin
Rich Hilliard’s favorite John Olmstead story is one he has told many times before. Hilliard retells it so often because it’s the best way to help people understand what makes Olmstead one of the best high school tackles in the country.
Hilliard, the football coach at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J., wanted to let some of his underclassmen see the field late in a 30-point blowout last season. He ran two consecutive plays that required the guard to start pulling in front of the tackle. The guard was an inexperienced backup. The tackle was Olmstead.
“And John came flying off the field at me,” Hilliard told Land of 10. “He said, ‘Coach, you can’t run that play. That guy’s too slow in front of me.’ I said, ‘John, we’re up 30 points. I’m trying to give him a chance.’ That shows you how he is. He’s just intense. Every play is 100 percent with that young man. I tell all the coaches that story because he just didn’t want to go down without giving his best effort.”
Olmstead is a 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior who is among the most sought-after tackles in the country. He is rated by the 247Sports composite as the No. 18 tackle in the 2019 recruiting class and holds 35 scholarship offers, with his most recent offer coming from Florida State on Wednesday.
Olmstead recently released a video on Twitter that showed the 10 schools on his list: LSU, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Rutgers and Wisconsin.
I am truly thankful to every school that has offered me a chance to continue my academic and athletic careers. It has been an honor to meet all of the coaches who recruited me. After many conversations with my family and much prayer, I will be considering these ten schools. pic.twitter.com/VWo7qGQvlP
— John Olmstead (@JOHNNYO_72) March 16, 2018
He tweeted Tuesday that he would make unofficial visits in the coming weeks to LSU (April 2-3), Ole Miss (April 4), Nebraska (April 6), Michigan (April 7-8) and Notre Dame (April 9-10). Still, Hilliard noted Wisconsin remains firmly in the mix for Olmstead.
“He’s very, very interested in Wisconsin,” Hilliard said. “He knows what kind of O-line Wisconsin has put out in the past, and he knows they’re very big offensive-line oriented, and that’s what really is catching his eye right now.”
Hilliard said Wisconsin’s lead recruiter on Olmstead has been tight ends coach Mickey Turner, who has visited the high school. What Wisconsin coaches like about Olmstead is similar to what makes so many programs interested in him .
“They all notice that beyond the line of scrimmage, he doesn’t stop there,” Hilliard said. “He’s always looking downfield for someone else. His feet never stop. They’ve all noticed that. Not to mention his strength and his size. He’s very fast for his size.
“What separates him from other kids his size is his motor. He has an unbelievable motor and a work ethic that is beyond any young man I’ve had the pleasure of coaching so far. Any day he is in the gym, he thinks someone is getting better than him. That’s the way he thinks.”
Wisconsin has two tackles committed in its 2019 recruiting class: 4-star prospect Logan Brown (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and 3-star prospect Joe Tippmann (Fort Wayne, Ind.). The Badgers have an opportunity to put together one of their best offensive line classes in the online ranking era. Other tackles with significant interest in Wisconsin include Quinn Carroll (Minneapolis), Trevor Keegan (Crystal Lake, Ill.), Bryce Benhart (Lakeville, Minn.), Jonathan Allen (Dayton, Ohio) and Andrew Kristofic (Gibsonia, Pa.).
Olmstead told Greg Tufaro of MyCentralJersey.com that he has been forced to push back his timeline for picking a school given all the recruiting interest. He can begin making his five official visits after April 1.
“I planned to verbal around May or June, but now with more schools coming in, I don’t think I’m going to be able to make the deadline,” Olmstead told Tufaro. “I wanted to [commit earlier] but this has gotten crazy, and I don’t want to rush anything.”
The 247Sports Crystal Ball lists Notre Dame as the frontrunner for Olmstead, whose South Bend visit is the last leg of his five-campus tour. The competition for his services will rage on until he makes his college decision.
“I’ve done what I can do with the coaches and getting his name out there,” Hilliard said. “Now, it’s up to him and his family. That’s something I kind of stay out of. He sits and talks to his family. I know his mom was out there with John when he visited Wisconsin one time on an unofficial visit, and they really like the coaches out there.
“John’s looking to play at the next level and maybe somewhere down the road, if he’s lucky enough. I know going to a school that is so big with offensive linemen, John really is very interested in Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin hoops target Jalen Johnson earns two new offers
Expect the scholarship offers to begin rolling in for forward Jalen Johnson, who recently completed his sophomore season at Sun Prairie (Wis.) High School. Johnson holds a Wisconsin scholarship offer and is ranked as the No. 8 player in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports composite. His latest offers come from Florida and Kansas State, both of which he earned this week.
Blessed to receive an offer from the University of Florida 🙏🏽🐊 pic.twitter.com/2ImORZAALz
— Jalen Johnson (@Jalen_J23) March 28, 2018
— Jalen Johnson (@Jalen_J23) March 28, 2018
Johnson’s scholarship list now features Wisconsin, Marquette, Florida, Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Purdue, UNLV and West Virginia. Last fall, he visited Duke and Kentucky and also is drawing interest from North Carolina. Michigan coach John Beilein stopped by to watch him play last month when the Wolverines were in town to play the Badgers.
Johnson has taken several unofficial visits to watch Wisconsin games and continues to stay in contact with assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft and coach Greg Gard.
“Me and the coaches are really tight,” Johnson told Land of 10 in January. “Probably the tightest relationship I have at this point is Coach Krabbenhoft. They always keep in contact with me and my dad a lot. Since my dad is the assistant coach now to the JV basketball team, they’re able to contact him directly. So that’s been a lot easier and nicer to have.”
Johnson averaged 18.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists to help lead Sun Prairie to its first state tournament appearance. He earned second-team Associated Press all-state honors. And with his AAU season set to begin, more college programs are likely to take notice.
“Back when I was at Wisconsin in September, Coach Gard told me with everything coming at you, just enjoy it and be humble through everything,” Johnson said. “That really stuck with me. Coach Krabbenhoft and all the other coaches are telling me the same thing.”