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.
2019 WR Trejan Bridges lists Wisconsin in his top 11
Wide receiver Trejan Bridges, a junior-to-be at Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas, released his top 11 list of schools last week on Twitter. Only one Big Ten team made his initial list: Wisconsin.
The other schools included were Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor, Ole Miss, Colorado, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oregon and BYU. Bridges has other scholarship offers from fellow Big Ten programs Illinois and Maryland, which were not on his top 11.
— Trejan Bridges (@trejanbridges) August 1, 2017
The 6-foot-1, 174-pound Bridges is a 4-star prospect and rated as the No. 28 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. In total, he has 20 scholarship offers.
Brian Brazil, who has been the coach and athletic coordinator at Hebron High School since the school opened in 1999, raved about Bridges’ ability.
“He’s got as good of ball skills as any kid I’ve ever been around,” Brazil told Land of 10. “He’s really savvy. He’s got great hands, can catch everything, and he’s a very lucid kid, too. He can return kicks and punts. As a freshman, he played running back for us. He’s a kid out there that when he catches the ball, he’s a hard kid to bring down.
“He’d be a really good safety, too, if we just said, ‘Hey, we’ll make him a safety.’ It’s kind of like a, where-do-you-want-to-put-him kind of thing? He can throw the ball 55, 60 yards and kick the ball, too. He’s just got a lot of natural talent that makes him very versatile.”
According to the Carrollton Leader, Bridges caught 50 passes last season for 766 yards with 9 touchdowns. During Hebron’s 40-35 victory against Plano East in a Class 6A playoff game, he caught 6 passes for 70 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“When the game’s on the line, you just get the ball to him,” Brazil said. “I don’t care if everybody knows the ball is coming or not, I feel like he’s going to come down with it. He’s just got a knack. It seems like he’ll jump up, and it’s like he just hangs up there forever. He can get himself in very awkward positions just to snag the football.
“If his hands are on the ball, I just don’t see him dropping it. He always seems to make those types of catches.”
At this early stage, Oklahoma could be a leader in Bridges’ recruitment. Wisconsin offered Bridges a scholarship April 20, but he has not visited the school yet. Brazil said he hadn’t had any discussions with Bridges about Wisconsin, but the coach is familiar with Wisconsin’s style. Brazil was an All-Southwest Conference offensive lineman at TCU in the 1980s and watched the Horned Frogs beat Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl. Brazil noted that some of Bridges’ family is from Wisconsin.
“I think that creates some interest there,” Brazil said.
Bridges is surrounded with talent at Hebron. His quarterback, Clayton Tune, has committed to play at Kansas. Fellow wide receiver Jaren Mitchell is committed to BYU.
“But I think everybody knows that Trejan’s that guy,” Brazil said. “A lot of times people try to double cover and do some things, bracket him. But whatever it takes, I still feel confident throwing the ball his way. It creates other options for guys on our team because we’ve got a lot of guys. We’ve got a quarterback who can put the ball on the money.
“But that’s what I say about Trejan. He’s a team guy. He’ll go in as far as blocking. He really loves laying people out on blocks. So he gets as excited about that. He’s just that kind of kid.”
2018 CB Marquis Williams still has Wisconsin in the lead
Marquis Williams, a cornerback from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently announced that he would take official visits to four schools this fall: Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota and Pittsburgh.
Williams is a 3-star prospect that transferred after last season from Coconut Creek to Cardinal Gibbons High School. The 5-foot-8, 154-pound senior-to-be told the Sun Sentinel that he wanted to commit to a school before his team’s first preseason game Aug. 18. He also acknowledged that Wisconsin was his current leader.
“They’ve been recruiting me since 10th grade,” Williams told the Sun Sentinel. “When I went up there for a visit, it was nothing but family. Their whole entire staff either worked there before or played there before. It’s nothing but family there. It’s a great tradition.”
Williams noted that he had been in contact with cornerback Faion Hicks, a member of Wisconsin’s 2017 recruiting class. Hicks is also a product of Broward County in Florida.
“The Badgers, it’s a Florida tradition,” Williams told Scout.com in a separate interview. “They love Florida cornerbacks.”
Williams told Scout that Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard had been recruiting him since Leonhard served as the program’s defensive backs coach. The fact he earned a promotion and remained with the program is part of what appeals to Williams.
“To me it’s like a sign, like a blessing to me, like trying to give me a sign like this might be the move,” Williams told Scout.com.
Williams said the fact there were so many upperclassmen playing cornerback at Wisconsin appealed to him because there would be room for a young player to potentially step in and fill those roles. Wisconsin starting cornerback Derrick Tindal is a senior this season, as is reserve corner Lubern Figaro. Nick Nelson, the team’s other starting cornerback, is a junior.
Wisconsin already has two cornerbacks committed in the 2018 class with Alexander Smith (Culver City, Calif.) and Travian Blaylock (Humble, Texas). Williams has listed Wisconsin as his leader since late November. He received a Badgers scholarship offer April 19 and last visited Wisconsin unofficially on June 22.
Williams has 21 scholarship offers, including from Penn State, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, N.C. State, Central Florida, Rutgers and Syracuse.
Badgers hoops continue search for big man
When Wisconsin target Joey Hauser committed to Marquette, Badgers basketball coach Greg Gard and his staff had to quickly change course. The focus first shifted to Nate Laszewski, a 6-foot-10, 190-pound forward from Northfield, Mass. Wisconsin offered Laszewski a scholarship July 28, as he played at the Adidas Uprising tournament in Las Vegas for the New England Playaz.
Laszewski’s father, Jay, played basketball at Wisconsin from 1983-86. His sister, Abby, is a current member of the Badgers’ women’s basketball team. Laszewski is a 4-star prospect rated as the No. 4 player in Massachusetts. 247Sports lists Notre Dame as his potential front-runner at this stage.
But the Badgers continue looking at other big men to fill out their future roster.
Ryan James of Gopher Illustrated reported that Joe Hedstrom took an unofficial visit to Wisconsin on Monday and subsequently was offered a scholarship. Hedstrom, a 6-10, 200-pound center from Hopkins, Minn., would be a preferred walk-on next season and then hold a scholarship for the remaining four seasons if he chose Wisconsin. That would mean he wouldn’t eat up a Wisconsin scholarship until the 2019-20 season. He also has scholarship offers from Cleveland State, Columbia, Loyola Marymount, North Dakota and North Dakota State.
BadgerBlitz.com editor Jon McNamara spoke this week to Jack Hemphill, who is another prospect Wisconsin is evaluating before it considers offering a potential scholarship. Hemphill is a 6-9, 230-pound forward from Ravenscroft School in North Carolina and has been in contact with Badgers assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft.
Based on highlight videos Hemphill posted of his junior season, he appears to be a skilled big man with good post footwork, a solid mid-range jump shot and a deft passing touch around the block for kick-out 3-pointers or layups underneath. But he also is significantly taller than his opponents in high school, which surely would change at the college level.
McNamara reported that Hemphill has scholarship offers from American University, Appalachian State, Boston University, Furman, New Hampshire and William & Mary.
“I haven’t grown up near Wisconsin, obviously, but it’s a school I’ve noticed and been intrigued by because of their playing style and tournament success,” Hemphill told McNamara. “If they were to offer I would possibly commit on the spot. But it would depend on how comfortable and stuff I feel on the visit.”