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Michael Deiter could play left tackle or left guard for Wisconsin this season.

Wisconsin mailbag: Options at left tackle, official vs. unofficial visits, football recruiting updates

Jesse Temple

Have Wisconsin football, basketball or recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Wisconsin mailbag to talk all things Badgers. This week, we discuss the differences between official and unofficial visits, Wisconsin’s left tackle conundrum and updates on football recruiting.


Question 1

Answer: To me, this comes down to whether Wisconsin’s coaching staff decides to leave Michael Deiter at left tackle or move him inside to left guard. One of the reasons Deiter returned for his senior season was so he could put more reps working as an interior lineman on tape for NFL personnel. Tyler Biadasz was a freshman All-American at center last season, while right guard Beau Benzschawel and right tackle David Edwards earned All-American honors, so those three spots appear to be set.

Deiter, an All-American at left tackle last season, is good enough to play anywhere. The job Cole Van Lanen did at left tackle during spring practice could be enough to earn him a starting spot and move Deiter to left guard. Of course, that means Jon Dietzen would lose his starting spot at left guard after starting 20 games the last two seasons. Quite frankly, Wisconsin’s offensive line is an embarrassment of riches.

Question 2

Answer: I don’t believe there is a cap on the number of unofficial visits a prospect can take. But under NCAA rules, a prospect can take only one official visit to a Division I school and is allowed five total official visits.

Here’s how the the NCAA recruiting website defines an official visit compared to an unofficial visit.

“Any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents paid for by the college is an official visit. Visits paid for by college-bound student-athletes or their parents are unofficial visits.

“During an official visit the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for the prospect, lodging and three meals per day for both the prospect and the parent or guardian, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event.

“The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.”

In terms of what Wisconsin’s football staff shows a recruit, facilities are a big one. Wisconsin has significantly upgraded its facilities in recent years and continues to add to a growing nutrition program. I’ve also heard from recruits how important it is to have individual time with members of the team, so they can ask players about their experience without coaches or parents around. Those types of conversations usually resonate quite a bit with prospects.

Question 3

Answer: I don’t think the transfer of quarterback Kare Lyles will have an impact on the status of offensive lineman Kayden Lyles. Kare Lyles was buried on the depth chart and would have had a difficult climb to ever see meaningful playing time at Wisconsin. His younger brother, Kayden, is a rising star on Wisconsin’s offensive line.

Kayden Lyles earned first-team reps during the spring at left guard, center and right guard with several starters sidelined. While he may not see a ton of action this season as a redshirt freshman, he has positioned himself to become a major contributor for the Badgers in the future.

Question 4

Answer: I talked to Racine (Wis.) St. Catherine’s football coach Dan Miller about Da’Shaun Brown in March. Brown has scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State and Western Michigan, and he continues to evaluate his options. Brown visited Iowa State in January and February, but Wisconsin remains in the mix.

“He loves Madison, and it’s kind of just going through the process,” Miller told me. “It’s something that when you get so many schools that are interested in you after you’ve been offered by the Badgers, that says a lot that other teams feel the same way as an excellent program like Wisconsin to have offered him so early. And it says a lot about Wisconsin also, and how they care about Da’Shaun and how they feel about him.

“He understands all that. I think we just talked about going one step at a time. Right now, since he’s got a few offers that he’s happy with, he can just focus on his schoolwork and kind of just focus on those little things that can help him be a great leader as well.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Brown has put together two stellar seasons as a quarterback at St. Catherine’s. As a sophomore in 2016, he threw for 1,853 yards with 23 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,087 yards with 17 touchdowns and helped his team to an 8-3 record.

St. Catherine’s finished the 2017 season 10-1 and lost in the second round of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs. The Angels averaged 40.6 points per game. Brown finished the season with 1,404 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,210 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 11.3 yards per carry.

He set an unofficial Racine County single-game rushing record with 402 yards on Oct. 7 in a 55-7 victory against Kenosha St. Joseph. Brown also has played some cornerback and safety.

Brown is the No. 1 prospect in Wisconsin and the No. 43 athlete overall in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite. Wisconsin is looking at Brown as a wide receiver, but Miller said it’s unclear what position the Badgers and other programs want Brown to play because of his athleticism and versatility.

“He’s got a frame that he can definitely put on weight and really be a physical safety,” Miller said. “And he’s got the size and the speed to be a corner, as well. And then you look at the offensive side of it where he could be a receiver with his jumping ability and how he attacks the football.

“Even though he hasn’t played a lot of receiver, he still just has an exceptional push off the snap of the ball. His length with his legs I think really would be something that the school that gets him is really going to have to take a look at and say, ‘OK, can he really be an exceptional receiver or is it defensive back at corner or safety?’ ”

Question 5

Answer: Given Wisconsin’s overall wide receiver depth — and the fact the program is bringing in four receivers in the 2018 class — the Badgers don’t have to hit the panic button. Nolan Groulx de-committed from Wisconsin’s 2019 class last week. Craig Young recently released his top five schools and the Badgers weren’t included. But Wisconsin has some options.

Wisconsin still has one player committed in the 2019 class who is expected to begin his career at wide receiver: Marcus Graham. Graham is a dual-threat quarterback in Mount Holly, N.C., and could play receiver or defensive back for the Badgers. Dean Engram is another name to watch. Engram, from Washington, D.C., took an unofficial visit to Wisconsin on March 17. He has an official visit scheduled for June 1.

Wisconsin does not have any senior scholarship wide receivers in 2018, so the Badgers don’t have to grab more than one or two receivers on the recruiting trail for 2019.

Question 6

Answer: Wisconsin will be losing nose guard Olive Sagapolu after this season, so it makes sense that the Badgers pursued Keeanu Benton (Janesville, Wis.). Benton committed to Wisconsin last week in the 2019 class and could eventually become a backup nose guard to Bryson Williams. Benton’s coach told me that he has the versatility to play defensive end, if necessary.

I’d imagine Wisconsin would still take a couple of defensive line prospects. Current Badgers defensive ends David Pfaff, Kraig Howe and Garrett Rand are all juniors eligibility-wise in 2018. So if Wisconsin signed any defensive linemen in 2019, they could redshirt and then have a chance to move up the depth chart.

Defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson (Springfield, Ohio) has scheduled his first official visit to Wisconsin on June 1. Defensive end Michael Fletcher (Flint, Mich.) has an official visit scheduled for June 8. Fletcher will visit Kentucky and Michigan, while Michigan State will be another school heavily involved in his recruitment. The Badgers also have extended scholarship offers to several new players, including Duke Olges (Winnetka, Ill.), who could give Wisconsin serious consideration.

Have a question about Wisconsin football, basketball or recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10Badgers and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Wisconsin mailbags here.