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.
RB commit Julius Davis earns LSU offer
When running back Julius Davis (Menomonee Falls, Wis.) committed to Wisconsin on Nov. 21, he held two scholarship offers: one from Buffalo, one from Wisconsin. Davis was coming off a fantastic junior season in which he carried 257 times for 1,762 yards — an average of 6.8 yards per carry — and scored 17 touchdowns. At the time, it seemed as though the Badgers had found yet another undervalued gem in their backyard.
But it’s clear that Davis’ value is rising. On Saturday, he tweeted that LSU had offered a scholarship.
— Julius Davis (@juliusdavis32) February 10, 2018
Whenever a big-name college football program comes in with an offer on a Wisconsin commit, it seems to validate the quality of that player. Quarterback Graham Mertz (Overland Park, Kan.) has earned boatloads of scholarship offers since committing to Wisconsin, including from Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia and LSU. Safety Bryson Shaw (Potomac, Md.) received an Ohio State offer after he committed to Wisconsin. Those other offers also cause worry among Badgers fans. But in the case of Davis, he seems to be pretty set on playing for Wisconsin.
Davis told Land of 10 last month that Wisconsin was his “dream school” when addressing the potential for other programs to enter the mix.
“I obviously know I want to stay with Wisconsin,” Davis said. “But I don’t want to cut off all my options just in case something does happen where I can’t go to Wisconsin, so then I do have backup options.”
LSU already has a commitment in its 2019 recruiting class from 4-star running back Tyrion Davis (Baton Rouge, La.). He is listed as the No. 16 running back in the country. Julius Davis is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 32 running back in the nation and the No. 2 player in Wisconsin.
“I haven’t had anybody quite like him,” Menomonee Falls football coach Dan Lutz told Land of 10. “When I look at the college game, he kind of reminds me of a younger Saquon Barkley with the way he runs and as athletic as he is and the type of cuts that he can do. That’s the first thing I thought of watching college was, ‘Oh, he kind of reminds me of Julius a little bit.’ Julius doesn’t quite have his speed yet, obviously. But everything else about him, he’s kind of a similar back.”
It stands to reason that LSU won’t be the last school to offer Davis, a 3-star prospect with the potential to gain that fourth star by the time his high school career ends.
S Bryson Shaw earns 4th star from 247Sports
Speaking of earning a fourth star, that’s exactly what safety Bryson Shaw accomplished this week. Shaw, who committed to Wisconsin’s 2019 recruiting class on Jan. 27, got that additional star from 247Sports.
“He’s an exciting prospect to me,” 247Sports staff writer Barton Simmons wrote. “He’s got good size. I love that he’s an elite lacrosse player. His athleticism flashes on film. He’s also a guy that makes an impact all over the field in the return game, offensively, turning defense to offense with interceptions, etc. To me, that shows instincts and is a strong indicator of athleticism. The kid’s a competitor.”
— Bryson Shaw (@bryson_shaw2) February 12, 2018
Shaw originally committed as a high school freshman to play lacrosse at Maryland and is considered one of the top-10 lacrosse players in his class. But he ultimately chose football over lacrosse.
“Football is my dream since I can remember,” Shaw told Land of 10 after he committed to Wisconsin. “I just always wanted to play big-time college football and hopefully get a shot at the pros. Lacrosse came a little earlier than the football recruiting did, so I had to take my opportunities there. Lacrosse has been a big part of me, and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. But I know I’m making the right decision. I don’t doubt it.”
Shaw is listed as a 3-star player in the 247Sports composite and the No. 41 safety in the country. He played all over the field for Bullis School during his junior season. He caught 27 passes for 474 yards with 5 touchdowns, rushed 39 times for 213 yards with 3 scores and returned 2 interceptions for touchdowns on defense. He also was a dangerous weapon on kickoff and punt returns.
“What sticks out in my mind is how competitive he is,” Bullis football coach Pat Cilento said. “We’ve had a lot of great players come through our school. I think we have nine in the Big Ten if you include him. But he is probably the most competitive one in the bunch. He just wants to compete and won’t be outdone.”
Four of Wisconsin’s eight committed prospects in the 2019 class are ranked as 4-star composite players: tackle Logan Brown (Grand Rapids, Mich.), tackle Joe Tippmann (Fort Wayne, Ind.), quarterback Graham Mertz (Overland Park, Kan.) and tight end Hayden Rucci (Lititz, Pa.) But Shaw and wide receiver Nolan Groulx (Cornelius, N.C.) have earned 4 stars from 247Sports, and the class is shaping up to be Wisconsin’s best in the online recruiting ranking era.
OLB Mason Platter donates hair
Well, this is pretty cool. If you haven’t seen this story yet, 2018 Badgers signee Mason Platter recently tweeted that he cut his hair after more than two years to donate it to Wigs for Kids, a charitable organization that creates wigs from real hair and provides those custom wigs for free to children that have lost their hair for any reason.
So after 2 years, 5 months and 10 days I finally did it. I decided to donate to @wigsforkids because they do not charge the families for the wigs! Making a wig is an expensive process however. Everyone go to their page and drop a donation! pic.twitter.com/yiKlOGuAY3
— Mason Platter (@Mason__Platter) February 11, 2018
Platter, from Menomonie, Wis., is a 3-star outside linebacker who ranks as the No. 6 player in the state.
Big recruiting day for Badgers hoops
Wisconsin’s most significant recruiting day of the basketball season took place Sunday, when several of the program’s top prospects visited to watch Wisconsin play Michigan. The list included 2018 signees Taylor Currie (Clarkston, Mich.) and Joe Hedstrom (Hopkins, Minn.), as well as 2019 forward Zeke Nnaji (Hopkins, Minn.) and 2020 forward Jalen Johnson (Sun Prairie, Wis.). Johnson’s teammate, Marlon Ruffin, was in attendance and is being considered as a potential walk-on in 2018.
As far as future prospects go, Nnaji and Johnson were among those on hand who have garnered the most attention. Nnaji, a 6-foot-9, 195-pound junior, has scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Creighton. He also is high school teammates with Hedstrom. Nnaji, a 3-star prospect, is ranked as the No. 3 player in Minnesota and the No. 40 power forward in the country, according to the 247Sports composite.
Johnson holds scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Marquette, Iowa, Purdue, West Virginia and UCLA, but he also is being courted by the likes of North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky. Johnson is 6-8 but can handle the ball and make pinpoint passes like a point guard.
Johnson and his family told Land of 10 that they’re taking his recruitment slow, even while he becomes one of the best players in the country. Johnson is rated as the top player in Wisconsin for the 2020 class and the No. 8 player in the nation. Johnson plays at Sun Prairie High School, which is located only 25 minutes from the Kohl Center. Naturally, Badgers fans often ask him about his college plans.
“Whenever I go to a different high school game, maybe Waunakee or different local games I go to, I’ve got a bunch of little kids and adults telling me to come to Wisconsin,” Johnson said. “Of course you don’t even really know what to say at the time because I’m not even sure where I want to go at this point. I’ve just got to give them the same answer. ‘We’ll see.’”
You can read the full story about Johnson’s quick rise the past year and his thoughts on Wisconsin here.