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.
Commits take official visits to campus
This past weekend represented a huge step for Wisconsin’s football program in solidifying its 2018 recruiting class. Of the Badgers’ 19 committed players, 16 made the trip to Madison to take their official visits, which coincided with Wisconsin’s awards banquet.
— Derrick blaylock (@blaylock_23) December 9, 2017
Based on the Twitter pictures provided, the only three players not in attendance were quarterback Chase Wolf (Cincinnati), wide receiver Aron Cruickshank (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and running back Nakia Watson (Austin, Texas). Watson’s Austin Westlake team was playing this weekend in the state quarterfinals.
Perhaps the most notable attendee was defensive lineman Bryson Williams (Lincoln, Neb.). Williams committed to Wisconsin on July 5, but new Nebraska coach Scott Frost offered him a scholarship Dec. 3. Frost had previously offered Williams a scholarship when he coached at UCF.
Official Visit in Madison ‼️ pic.twitter.com/ADbm25cblu
— Bryson Williams (@brysonjw_18) December 9, 2017
Given that Williams intends on signing during the early signing period that runs Dec. 20-22 and enrolling in school early, he’ll have limited time to make a decision.
“I am listening to them,” Williams told Badger247.com writer Evan Flood. “They know I’ve been committed to Wisconsin for awhile. When I talked to Coach Frost, he said he’d be excited either way. But they haven’t really pushed me.”
Williams then added that he thought he was “done,” meaning he would pick Wisconsin.
However, Williams posted a photo Sunday night with Nebraska defensive line coach Mike Dawson and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. Both coaches recently joined Nebraska’s staff after following Frost over from UCF.
— Bryson Williams (@brysonjw_18) December 10, 2017
Wisconsin has just one 4-star prospect in its 2018 recruiting class so far with linebacker Jack Sanborn (Lake Zurich, Ill.). The Badgers’ national recruiting rank is No. 35 and No. 7 in the Big Ten, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Check out more photos of Wisconsin’s 2018 class from official visits:
As initially reported by The D Zone, since 2001 Wisconsin has only been able to sign 7 Michigan kids out of HS. In the Class of 2018 Wisconsin is expected to sign 5!https://t.co/KI3nPbCE9l pic.twitter.com/7yyQTGYeAe
— The D Zone (@TheD_Zone) December 9, 2017
Wisconsin recruiting class of 2018!! #OnWisconsin @traeblay_21 @reggiepearson21 @brysonjw_18 @taj_m22 @JaylanFranklin_ @cjgoetz @ajabbott81 @isaacguerendo @Mason__Platter @JackSanborn79 @alexandersmith pic.twitter.com/ViOnAG5hhD
— Derrick blaylock (@blaylock_23) December 9, 2017
Enjoyed the Banquet with my future teammates ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/7E1sIj098n
— Clamp Captain ™ (@burton_donte) December 9, 2017
— Jen Guerendo (@JenGuerendo) December 9, 2017
— Alex Smith (@_alexsmith10) December 9, 2017
Which 2018 prospects are still in play?
While Wisconsin has had much of its 2018 recruiting class wrapped up for several months, the Badgers likely aren’t done yet trying to secure one or two more commitments. The names of uncommitted prospects that have surfaced include wide receiver John Jackson (Gardena, Calif.), cornerback Jairus Brents (Louisville, Ky.), defensive tackle Tyler Bentley (West Chester, Ohio), wide receiver Dallas Craddieth (Florissant, Mo.), and cornerback Houston Griffith (Bradenton, Fla.).
Craddieth has 22 scholarship offers, and 247Sports lists Iowa as his top school. He has taken an official visit to Iowa and has visits planned for Illinois and Indiana.
Griffith, a 4-star player who is rated as the No. 11 cornerback in the country, announced his de-commitment from Florida State on Nov. 29. Griffith told Tom Loy of 247Sports that Wisconsin was one of his finalists, alongside Florida State and Notre Dame. He intends on signing during the early signing period from Dec. 20-22. He would represent a huge pickup for the Badgers.
“Wisconsin came to see me on Tuesday,” he told Loy. “They told me they are excited and want me to take an official visit. Nothing is locked in though.”
Jackson told Flood that he planned on taking an official visit to Wisconsin on Jan. 19-20. He has other official visits scheduled to Illinois (Dec. 15) and UCLA (Jan. 26). The fact Wisconsin could secure a visit from Jackson is huge, but UCLA could be in prime position given that he is a California native and it will be his last visit. The Bruins also are riding a wave of momentum since Chip Kelly took over as coach.
Bentley de-committed from Kentucky on Dec. 4 and could be in play for Wisconsin, particularly if the Badgers lose out on Bryson Williams to Nebraska. Wisconsin offered Bentley on Feb. 27 and could try to schedule a time for him to visit.
Meanwhile, Brents took an unofficial visit to Wisconsin for its game against Michigan on Nov. 18. He has 34 scholarship offers and is rated as the No. 1 player in Kentucky. Like Griffith, his addition to Wisconsin would be a major boost.
Wisconsin offers scholarship to defensive tackle Billy Ferrell
Wisconsin became the latest school to offer 6-foot-3, 331-pound defensive tackle Billy Ferrell. Ferrell, a 3-star prospect, is rated as the No. 9 player in the state of Arkansas for the 2018 class.
— Bj (@7_Bjferrell) December 11, 2017
Ferrell has nine scholarship offers and received an offer from Arkansas on Dec. 7. That program is believed to be his leader, according to 247Sports. He also has offers from Alabama, UCLA and Louisville, among others.
The offer to Ferrell is notable because it means Wisconsin could be preparing for an alternative in case defensive lineman Bryson Williams opts for Nebraska. Williams currently is the only committed defensive tackle in the 2018 class.
RB Nakia Watson’s playoff push continues
Running back Nakia Watson was one of the few players not in attendance for an official visit to Wisconsin this weekend. He had a good reason: Watson was busy leading his Austin (Texas) Westlake team to the state semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
Austin Westlake defeated Cibolo Steele 28-14 on Saturday night at the Alamodome behind Watson’s 183 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns, according to the Hill Country News. Watson broke a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.
“I was getting close and I knew I had to put the game away,” Watson told the Country News. “I told myself ‘No matter what, if you get hit, just keep pumping and don’t let the sidearm tackles hit you.’ We were all dead tired and we had to step outside our comfort zone to come out on top.”
Westlake's @nakiawatson04 is the real deal.
— FloFootball (@FloFootball) December 11, 2017
Watson has been sensational this season and has rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 of 14 games. He now has 1,880 yards rushing with 27 touchdowns. Westlake will play Cy-Fair on Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium in Houston.
“We’re not quite where we need to be right now but we’ll get there,” Watson said. “We’re not at our peak yet, we’ve just got work to get to it.”
Here’s a look at more highlights from Watson’s senior season:
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