Wisconsin recruiting: How some of Badgers most undervalued signees have thrived

Wisconsin-recruiting-Badgers undervalued signees

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.

Low recruiting rankings mean little at Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s football program has built a reputation of developing players during the course of their college careers. One of the important aspects toward achieving that goal is identifying undervalued talent during the recruiting process. And few schools have excelled as much in that area as Wisconsin.

The Badgers wrapped up their 2018 recruiting class last week on National Signing Day. It remains to be seen how those athletes will perform. But judging by recent success, expect some of the lower-rated prospects to make a big-time impact on the field. Here’s a look back at how some of the lowest-rated signees in recent classes have performed.

2017: LS Adam Bay (2-star, 0.7838 composite rating)

Long snappers don’t seem to get much love, and Adam Bay’s recruiting ranking is reflected in that notion. He was the lowest-rated signee in Wisconsin’s 2017 recruiting class, but he did arrive as one of the best long snappers in the country. Kohl’s Kicking Camp rated him at No. 1. Bay ranked No. 4 overall in the 247Sports composite at the position.

Bay was committed to Missouri until a spot opened up at Wisconsin when long snapper Jake Cesear left the program. Bay earned Wisconsin’s starting long snapper job out of fall camp as a freshman and played in all 14 games. He served as the long snapper for field goals and punts.

2016: P Anthony Lotti (3-star, 0.8306)

Anthony Lotti is the highest-rated player on this list. Three players in Wisconsin’s 2016 class rated lower than him: cornerback Caesar Williams, tight end Luke Benzschawel and receiver Deron Harrell. All three of those players could contribute in a big way down the road but have been forced to bide their time behind other players. As for Lotti, he found an immediate role. Lotti was the No. 120 player in Georgia and the No. 6 punter in the 247Sports composite.

Lotti had scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Boston College and Air Force. He took over as the starting punter in his freshman season and played in 12 games. Last season, Lotti averaged 40.0 yards per punt and became a vital component to the team’s success.

2015: FB Alec Ingold (3-star, .8113)

Alec Ingold was the lowest-rated player in the 2015 class and actually flipped his commitment from Northern Illinois to Wisconsin in late January, just weeks before Signing Day. He had been committed to Northern Illinois for the previous seven months.

Ingold clearly was undervalued in recruiting rankings given his tremendous high school success. He earned 2014 Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year honors and the Associated Press also named him as the state’s top player. Ingold was a dual-threat quarterback in high school who totaled 2,324 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior. Perhaps part of the issue was that he was a tough player to project in college. He ranked as the No. 10 player in Wisconsin and the No. 46 dual-threat quarterback.

Ingold began his Wisconsin career at linebacker but quickly moved to running back because of injuries. He scored 6 rushing touchdowns in 2015 and remained on offense the following season at fullback. Ingold split fullback duties with Austin Ramesh in 2016 and 2017 but will be the primary fullback in 2018.

2014: ILB T.J. Edwards (2-star, 0.7850)

Talk about a great find for Wisconsin. T.J. Edwards was the second-lowest rated scholarship signee in the 2014 class, ahead of only offensive lineman Micah Kapoi. He ranked as the No. 65 player in Illinois and the No. 180 athlete in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite. At Lakes Community High in Illinois, he played quarterback because he was the best athlete on the team. But he began his Wisconsin career at linebacker after flipping his commitment from Western Michigan.

Edwards took a redshirt season in 2014 and earned a starting spot in 2015. He has since become one of the best inside linebackers in the country. He has started 39 games and owns 254 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 20 pass breakups, 7 interceptions and 5 sacks. Edwards was named an Associated Press first-team All-America selection last season. He opted to return for his senior campaign in 2018.

2013: OLB Leon Jacobs (3-star, 0.8064)

Only two other scholarship signees from 2013 ranked behind Jacobs: cornerbacks Jakarrie Washington and T.Jl Reynard. Jacobs rated as the No. 188 player in California and the No. 128 outside linebacker. But if you’ve seen Jacobs’ recent workout photo as he prepares for the NFL draft, you know that he is a freak of nature.

Jacobs played outside linebacker, inside linebacker, fullback and outside linebacker again during his Wisconsin career. He finally found a home during his senior season in 2017 and became a force at outside linebacker. He started all 14 games and recorded 60 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss. He played in 59 career games for the Badgers.

2012: Safety Leo Musso (2-star, 0.7791)

Wisconsin nearly let Leo Musso get away until former Badgers coach Bret Bielema offered him a full scholarship a week before Signing Day. Musso previously was invited as a preferred walk-on with the opportunity to earn a scholarship in his final three seasons. At the time, he had a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois and was drawing interest from Pittsburgh.

Musso is the lowest-rated player on this list overall. He rated as the No. 8 player in Wisconsin and the No. 126 running back in the country. As a senior at nearby Waunakee High, Musso rushed for 2,398 yards and scored 39 total touchdowns. But given the depth and talent at tailback, he became a safety at Wisconsin.

Musso redshirted in 2012 and played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman, which included a start at free safety against Ohio State. He became a huge contributor in his senior season, when he started all 14 games at safety, led the Badgers with 5 interceptions and was voted the recipient of the team MVP award. Musso played in 52 games with 17 starts and recorded 108 tackles with 8 interceptions.

The post Wisconsin recruiting: How some of Badgers most undervalued signees have thrived appeared first on Land of 10.

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