Wisconsin Football: 3 Recruits Badgers Must Land on NSD 2014
When a high school athlete verbally commits to a school, that generally means said athlete will be attending said school. But it's not until National Signing Day when you can be sure, which is a day Wisconsin football and over 100 FBS institutions are anxiously awaiting.
A perfect example is 4-star defensive tackle Craig Evans, who verbally committed to Wisconsin before the departure of head coach Bret Bielema (via 247sports). After reevaluating his options, Evans decided he would remain in-state to play for the Badgers and Gary Andersen.
On Feb. 5, we'll know for sure that the players verbally committed to play for the Badgers in 2014 and beyond will be attending Madison, and we could also add a couple of new names to that list. Currently, Wisconsin stands at 25 commitments for the class of 2014, so there isn't much work—if any—left to be done.
Even if the Badgers recruiting class happens to be set, Andersen and his staff will still be going hard after these three players, and several others, until National Signing Day arrives.
While a majority of high-profile recruits have all but made their decisions official, there's a reason why you can never say never this time of year—coaching changes.
Recently, former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong made the move to Texas to replace Mack Brown. Making it clear that he was committed to the coach rather than the school, 3-star wide receiver George Rushing re-opened his recruitment and now has several different programs on his radar.
Rushing doesn't have great size for a receiver—he's currently 6'1" and 180 pounds—but it's easily the weakest position on offense for the Badgers. They need any help they can get out on the edge, especially with Jared Abbrederis moving on to the next level, and adding Rushing to the mix, who is a Top 100 receiver out of the 2014 class according to 247sports, only increases the odds of finding a playmaker.
He's scheduled to visit Madison on Jan. 17 along with two other schools before National Signing Day, so keep your eyes peeled for Rushing's decision closer to Feb. 5.
The Badgers have already landed 4-star offensive tackle Jaden Gault, considered to be one of the best commits for Wisconsin, but beyond Gault, there is a lot left to be desired regarding the Badgers' offensive tackle recruits—and offensive linemen, in general.
Enter Kolton Miller, who 247sports lists as a 4-star recruit out Roseville, Calif. He's listed at a towering 6'8" and weighs in at 280 pounds, so it's simply a matter of adding more weight at the college level. It would appear Miller has plenty of room to do so, and considering Wisconsin's pedigree of developing offensive linemen, he could certainly blossom into a starter at the very least.
It appears Wisconsin's stiffest competition for Miller's services will be Oregon State, the odds-on favorite to land the California native. As it stands, the Badgers already have some highly touted tackles on the current roster to go along with Gault's commitment, but no one of Miller's caliber coming out of high school.
To keep the long-standing tradition of a dominant offensive line alive, Miller's commitment would be a big step for Andersen and the Badgers.
It's never easy for a school like Wisconsin to lure away a kid from the West coast, which is exactly what the Badgers would have to do to obtain Miller, or 4-star offensive tackle Kaleb McGary, another lineman on Andersen's radar.
Several Pac-12 schools are lining up for McGary, who hails from Tacoma, Wash. and is nearly a replica of Miller, measuring in at 6'7" and 270 pounds. But the Badgers are making a late push for McGary and will have him in for an official visit on Jan. 17.
McGary is ranked slightly ahead of Miller, but for Wisconsin to land at least one of the two would be a nice steal in the closing rounds of recruiting. Again, Oregon State stands in the way of Wisconsin along with the two Pac-12 schools that hail out of Washington, but the fact that the Badgers even remain alive in this race is a testament to what Andersen and his staff have been able to accomplish in just one calendar year.
Wisconsin has been in the running for 4-star offensive tackle Frank Ragnow for quite some time, but his official visit came way back in September. Even though Ragnow was blown away from his stay in Madison, it appears more likely that he will stay close to home in Minnesota or join the BCS National Champion Florida State Seminoles.
The Badgers have also targeted 4-star athlete Raymon Minor, but he appears to be a lock for Virginia Tech. Other long shots to join the Badgers are 3-star recruits like outside linebacker Vincent Jackson and safety D'Cota Dixon, who is scheduled to visit on Jan. 24.
A realistic chance remains that Wisconsin nabs 3-star defensive end Uriah Leiataua, although that's a position where the Badgers have already received several commitments and have some young up-and-comers on the current roster.
We'll see if Andersen can add to what is already a respectable 2014 recruiting class.