Michigan natives Michael Furtney (left) and Jaylan Franklin are set to be teammates at Wisconsin.

Wisconsin grabs another recruit out of Michigan, the importance of Leon Jacobs and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

Today is Tuesday, June 13, and this is what’s for breakfast.

Badgers going hard in Michigan

Wisconsin added commitment No. 12 in its 2018 recruiting class in the form of Rockwood, Mich., athlete Jaylan Franklin on Monday. A 3-star recruit, Franklin chose the Badgers less than 48 hours after visiting their campus for a second time. He told 247Sports’ Evan Flood that he had a good feeling during the weekend that Madison was where he wanted to be, and then called coach Paul Chryst on Monday to give him the good news.

“I think the number one reason was I felt most comfortable there,” he told Badger247. “I felt it was the best situation for me. I could do some things at Wisconsin that I couldn’t do at other places, as far as football and academics-wise.

“It felt right.”

Though he’s expected to play tight end at Wisconsin, 247 Sports composite rankings have Franklin rated as the No. 57 athlete in 2018, and the 16th-best player in Michigan in the class. The 6-foot-4, 192-pound Franklin had scholarship offers from 21 schools, including in-state power Michigan State. Instead, he became the second player from the state to commit to the Badgers and shun the Spartans, joining 3-star offensive tackle Michael Furtney. Franklin is the third player overall from Michigan in Wisconsin’s 2018 class. The number could grow, too, with the Badgers offering a couple more players from the state last weekend.

This run of success in Michigan is a bit surprising. Despite the close proximity, Wisconsin had very little interest or success in getting players from its neighbor to the east during former coach Bret Bielema’s tenure. When OT David Moorman signed as part of the 2015 class, he became the first Michigan signee since 2009 for the Badgers. Franklin now makes it four Michigan prospects to commit or sign in the 2017 and ’18 classes alone.

Recruiting is all about relationships, and it’s clear Wisconsin has been able to develop them in the state. And why not? The Badgers’ success, outside of Michigan State’s Rose Bowl victory to cap the 2013 season, has largely been on par with the Spartans since Mark Dantonio took over in East Lansing in 2007. Sure, the Badgers will likely struggle to win battles against Michigan and Ohio State for the best kids in the state, but there appears to be enough talent to make it worth Wisconsin’s time to chase the others.

Most Important Badgers for 2017

During the next several weeks will be unveiling our list of the Most Important Badgers for 2017. This is not a list of the 25 best players on the team. Instead, it’s the 25 players and coaches most vital to the Badgers’ success this fall. The goal was to rank the players based on which of them hold the key for Wisconsin to earn its third Big Ten West title in four seasons. Factors that came into play were past success, what was said about them by their coaches this offseason and what type of season could be expected from them.

No. 24 — Outside linebacker Leon Jacobs

Who: Jacobs’ career has been a bit of a roller coaster. The first player recruited specifically for Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense, he was thought of as the future of the outside linebackers his freshman year. But with a lot of talent in front of him there, the Badgers moved Jacobs to inside linebacker in 2014 with an eye on getting him on the field sooner. He started the first three games of 2015 before an injury slowed him down and ended up getting a medical redshirt.

That’s when things really got crazy for the California native, as he moved over to fullback prior to the 2016 season. The move really didn’t pan out, and when injuries hit at inside ‘backer, he was back on defense by October. It’s the spot he remained until a few weeks into spring practice when he finally went back to his original position and lined up with the first-team defense at outside linebacker the rest of the way.

Why here: With last year’s starting outside linebackers — T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel — now collecting NFL paychecks, the Badgers needed someone to pair with senior Garrett Dooley. Position coach Tim Tibesar said no jobs were won in the spring, but it certainly appears Jacobs is in line to fill the void. Just moving Jacobs in the spring shows the confidence the coaches have in him being the answer at the position as opposed to one of the younger players. The senior will need to stay healthy to keep the job, but it seems like it’s his time to shine.


No. 25 Beau Benzschawel

Sold out … again

The tweet came later than expected, but for a 25th consecutive year student season tickets for Wisconsin football have sold out.

In most years, that tweet comes within 30 minutes of the tickets going on sale. On Monday, the tickets did not sell out until nearly four hours after the 7:30 a.m. start time. While a cynic could jokingly say it took that long because of the lack of marquee matchups in the first two months of the home slate, Wisconsin pointed the blame, rightly, at issues with its online ordering system.

Once full, usually at some point in the second quarter, Wisconsin has as good of a student section as any in the country. The traditions based among the students, headlined by Jump Around, make Camp Randall Stadium a fun atmosphere for the home team — and a difficult place for opposing teams. That it’s sold out is not surprising and underlines the importance of the games, and the partying that comes with them, to student life at Wisconsin.

Catching up

  • Former Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes is confident whichever team picks him up will be “more than happy” with its choice.
  • A 20-game conference season in basketball could be coming to the Big Ten.