Gary Andersen made it clear to the Wisconsin Badger faithful that recruiting would be a focal point during his tenure as head coach, and National Signing Day was all the proof needed to show that he fully intends to back those remarks.
Andersen finished his first full recruiting class as Wisconsin’s coach by signing four, four-star recruits and 21 three-star recruits according to Scout.com, which are both improvements from last seasons’ recruiting class.
The first stepping stone when it comes to college recruiting is ensuring that the best in-state talent stays within the given state. Coach Andersen kept true to that philosophy as he signed four of the top-five recruits from the state of Wisconsin, according to 247sports.com.
The only top-five recruit from Wisconsin that Andersen was unable to obtain was four-star defensive tackle Craig Evans out of Sun Prairie. The six foot three inch, 305 pounder committed to Michigan State after sources close to the situation claim that the reason for his recommitment were due to academic reasons.
The Evans situation poses an interesting debate that seems to find itself coming into play with regards to Wisconsin recruiting and that is, why are recruits unable to meet Wisconsin’s academic qualifications but meet those of other Big Ten schools?
Coach Andersen and the University of Wisconsin in general hold their students to a high level of accountability, whether they are student-athletes or not and that is something athletes learn early on in the recruiting process. The university prides itself in molding these kids into successful men academically because going to the NFL is just not an option for every player that comes through the UW system.
Wisconsin’s recruiting techniques can frustrate a lot of fans as they see their team losing out on high-end recruits, but their commitment to those methods should be appreciated by fans rather than aggravate them. The young men that consider Wisconsin as a potential home understand that they are not only getting an opportunity to play at a well-respected athletic university, but also the opportunity to receive a world-class education.
Top in-state recruit was offensive lineman, Jaden Gault. The Cottage Grove native stands six feet seven inches tall and weighs 305 pounds, and was a four-star recruit according to ESPN, Scout.com, and 247sports.com.
While this recruiting class has a large tie to the Midwest area, Andersen made it clear that this wasn’t going to be the only area in which he stations his coaches for recruitment. 10 of the 25 recruits receiving scholarships came from the southern part of the US, including seven from Florida and two from Georgia.
Andersen’s ability to recruit down south is extremely noteworthy because it showed his ability to go up against, and eventually win the recruiting battle beside the perennial powerhouse that is the SEC. This goes back to his philosophy of developing these kids into successful men when they leave Wisconsin and for many of them that means success away from football.
The offensive line, defensive backfield, and wide receiver position were the three main areas that Andersen labeled as “high need” during his Wednesday afternoon press conference at Camp Randall Stadium. 16 of the 25 scholarship receiving recruits were apart of those three areas listed, which made it clear to see that Coach Andersen took no time at all waiting to upgrade those positions.
Andersen said he expects between five and seven of the 30 total recruits to come in and compete right away in spring ball and could see a few of those recruits starting for their first game come September. Along with Gault, another offensive lineman will see second-team reps right away due to the current injuries on the offensive line.
Three-star recruit and Ohio native, Michael Deiter is a six foot five inch senior at Genoa High School and was a first-team All-Ohio select for the offensive line. An injury to current offensive lineman Dan Voltz opens up a need at the center position, and Andersen plans on giving reps to Deiter at that position during spring ball.
The inconsistent play of Joel Stave during the season has Badger fans weary about the junior’s ability to lead this team going further. Andersen confirmed at his press conference Wednesday that the quarterback for this team will be Stave and it is his job to lose.
He also informed media members that former safety Tanner McEvoy will go back to his natural position at quarterback and compete with Stave for the starting job. Along with Stave and McEvoy, the Badgers have three other returning quarterbacks on the roster. However, that did not stop Gary Andersen’s recruiting crew to go out and get a commitment from a four-star quarterback out of Florida.
D.J. Gillins is a six foot three inch, 180 pound dual-threat quarterback that brings tremendous amounts of athleticism and a running aspect that the Badger offensive has not been accustomed to at the quarterback position. Gillins is still raw offensively when it comes to his pocket presence and passing, but has incredible upside and may just benefit from redshirting his first season to better himself as an all-around quarterback.
The process has already began to find a new running backs coach and recruiting coordinator after it was announced Wednesday afternoon that Thomas Hammock accepted a running backs coach position for the Baltimore Ravens. Whoever inherits this job for the Badgers will certainly enjoy being put in a position to work with the likes of Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, who combined to rush for over 2,200 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.
Coach Andersen also got the opportunity to feel what many parents go through on National Signing Day and that is the sense of satisfaction and pride a parent feels when their son plans on playing Division I football. He announced to media members on Wednesday that his son Chasen Andersen will be one of five walk-ons heading into spring camp for the Badgers.
With the lack of recent bowl game success, the Wisconsin football program will continue to be under a microscope by its fans and the media across the country. However, it does seem that Coach Andersen is committed to keeping the talent level at each position high by continuing to recruit competitively all over the country.