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.
3 commits in 2019 class make Rivals top 8
Wisconsin is off to a strong start with its 2019 recruiting class. But for anyone who wasn’t sure just how strong, Rivals.com released its latest position rankings and three of the Badgers’ four commits are in the top 8 nationally at their respective positions.
Quarterback Graham Mertz (Overland Park, Kan.) came in at No. 6 among pro-style quarterbacks. Wisconsin offered scholarships to five quarterbacks in the class. Mertz trails No. 1 JT Daniels, who committed to USC, as well as No. 4 Grant Gunnell, who picked Texas A&M. He is ranked ahead of No. 8 Cade McNamara (Notre Dame) and No. 10 Paul Tyson (uncommitted).
Mertz was phenomenal during his junior season in leading Blue Valley North High to its first state championship. He completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,684 yards with 45 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Mertz added 5 rushing touchdowns. Check out his junior-season highlights below:
Inside linebacker Leo Chenal (Grantsburg, Wis.) was the first committed player in the 2019 class and made a huge jump in the Rivals rankings. Chenal is rated as the No. 8 inside linebacker in the nation. He is one of only two committed players in the top 15 at that position.
According to WisSports.net, Chenal carried 59 times for 620 yards with 10 touchdowns this season. He caught 19 passes for 366 yards with 7 touchdowns. Defensively, Chenal tallied 96 tackles with 19 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles and 3 sacks. His brother, John Chenal, will be a Badgers walk-on in the 2018 class and rushed for an astounding 2,287 yards with 35 touchdowns while recording 117 tackles. Here are Leo’s junior-season highlights:
Finally, 6-foot-6, 285-pound junior Logan Brown (Grand Rapids, Mich.) came in as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country. Brown is a 4-star prospect in the 247Sports composite and is the highest-rated player in Wisconsin’s 2019 class. He committed to Wisconsin over Michigan on Nov. 19 after watching the Badgers defeat the Wolverines in Camp Randall Stadium.
Wisconsin’s other commit, Julius Davis, did not crack the top 40 running backs in the Rivals rankings. However, 247Sports lists him as its No. 29 running back. All four prospects rank in the top three in their states, according to the 247Sports composite.
2018 DE Braden Cassity lists Badgers in top 4
Braden Cassity, a 6-2, 245-pound defensive end from Austin, Texas, has grayshirt offers from two Power 5 programs: Wisconsin and Oklahoma State. He told Rivals.com writer Nick Krueger this week that those two programs, as well as Tulane and Tulsa, were on his top-four list.
Cassity is a teammate of Wisconsin running back commit Nakia Watson. Those two have helped lead Austin Westlake to the state semifinals. Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst and wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore visited Watson and Cassity on Tuesday.
— Braden Cassity (@BradenCass) December 12, 2017
According to MaxPreps.com, Cassity has 101 tackles this season with 17 hurries, 15 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He recorded 7 tackles in Westlake’s 28-14 quarterfinal victory against Steele. Based on Cassity’s interests, Wisconsin could be in a good position to land him, although he said he wouldn’t sign until Feburary.
“One of the most important things for me is going to a school that has great outdoors,” Cassity told Krueger. “I love hunting, I love fishing and that’s huge for me. I’m looking for a place that I am going to feel like I fit in — I don’t want to go to a school that doesn’t really fit my personality.”
2018 forward Drew Peterson to visit Wisconsin hoops
Forward Drew Peterson doesn’t have a scholarship offer from Wisconsin’s basketball program, but he certainly appears to be trending in that direction. Peterson is a 6-7, 180-pound senior from Libertyville, Ill. He is scheduled to take an unofficial visit to watch Wisconsin’s home game against Green Bay on Dec. 23.
Wisconsin coaches watched Peterson and Libertyville defeat Lake Forest 65-60 in overtime on Tuesday night.
Wisconsin watched Libertyville senior guard Drew Peterson tonight. Peterson will visit the Badgers for an unofficial on Dec. 23.
— Scott Phillips (@phillipshoops) December 13, 2017
According to the Daily Herald, Peterson scored 17 points. He buried his second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter with less than 20 seconds remaining to help force overtime. That performance came four days after Peterson exploded for 37 points in his team’s 63-54 victory against Waukegan.
Peterson buried 4 3-pointers against Waukegan, and what stands out most is how quickly he can release a shot over a defender. He is a nice spot-up shooter but also has the ability to score from long-range off the dribble. Take a look at his Waukegan highlights:
Libertyville is 5-3 this season and riding a four-game winning streak on the strength of Peterson’s scoring ability. During those four games, he has averaged 26.5 points. Peterson recorded 29 points, 15 rebounds and 3 steals in his team’s 55-48 victory against Lake Forest Academy on Nov. 30. He added 23 points and 10 rebounds in Libertyville’s 59-54 victory against Warren Township on Dec. 5.
Peterson has scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Illinois-Chicago, IUPUI, Kent State, Loyola-Chicago, Tulane and William & Mary. He also has interest from Butler, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue and Stanford.
Wisconsin currently has two committed players in the 2018 recruiting class — forward Taylor Currie (Clarkston, Mich.) and center Joe Hedstrom (Hopkins, Minn.). But the Badgers are in need of more frontcourt help. Ethan Happ is a redshirt junior who could declare for the NBA draft next spring. Charlie Thomas, Andy Van Vliet and Alex Illikainen will be seniors next season. Wisconsin also could look to add a graduate transfer in the class.
According to 247Sports, Peterson is a 3-star prospect who is ranked as the No. 7 player in Illinois for 2018. He is the top uncommitted player in the state.