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.
2019 DE Ruke Orhorhoro ‘praying’ for Wisconsin offer
Well before Ruke Orhorhoro became a dominant high school defensive end, he fell in love with Wisconsin’s football program from afar. As a young boy, he loved to watch the Badgers on Big Ten Network, specifically because of one beloved defensive player who tormented opponents every week.
“It was really from J.J. Watt,” Orhorhoro told Land of 10. “He used to be a D-end and tight end. It was just amazing watching him. So I was like, ‘Maybe I want to go to Wisconsin some day.’
“He inspired me, too. His story was very inspiring, being a walk-on, everybody sleeping on him. And look where he’s at right now.”
Watt last played at Wisconsin in 2010 and has gone on to earn three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards with the Houston Texans. He suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg last week and is out for the season. But those moments from Watt seven years ago have stayed with Orhorhoro, which is why he describes Wisconsin as a team that has “been in my heart since I was very young.”
So when Wisconsin outside linebackers coach Tim Tibesar contacted Orhorhoro in early September to explain what a special place Madison was, Orhorhoro didn’t need any convincing. Orhorhoro, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound defensive end from River Rouge, Mich., will take his first visit to Wisconsin for the team’s Oct. 21 game against Maryland.
“I don’t have an offer from them yet, but I’m hoping to get one,” Orhorhoro said of the Badgers. “And if not when I go on a visit, maybe after the season. But I’m just hoping to get one. Praying every day. Wisconsin’s one of my top schools. I’ve been looking at them since I was very young.”
Ruke Orhorhoro’s midseason highlights
Orhorhoro has earned scholarship offers from Central Michigan and Toledo thus far. He has taken unofficial visits to Bowling Green and Michigan in recent weeks. Although Orhorhoro has not visited Wisconsin, he has been able to learn more about the program because high school teammate Reggie Pearson Jr. already has committed to Wisconsin in its 2018 class.
“He’s been talking to me a lot,” Orhorhoro said. “He’s just been saying how great it is down there, how he wants to go back there soon. He gives me information about the academics. Everything they’ve told him, he’s basically told me.”
Orhorhoro said he was being recruited by Wisconsin in its 2019 class as a defensive end or outside linebacker. He described himself as a “fast, athletic guy” who could move for his size and would fit in well in the Badgers’ front seven. And he can’t wait to have the opportunity to see the school he watched from afar all those years ago.
“I just want to walk around the campus, get a feel of Madison and see how it’s really like firsthand,” Orhorhoro said. “I’ve been looking at a lot of pictures. I want to experience what it’s like in person.”
Badgers offer 2019 DE Brandon Smith
Wisconsin offered a scholarship this week to one of the top defensive ends in the Class of 2019. Brandon Smith, a 6-5, 220-pound junior from Mineral, Va., tweeted about his Badgers offer Tuesday.
— Brandon Smith (@brand0n_smith12) October 11, 2017
Smith has more than 20 scholarship offers from some of the most well-known programs in the country, including Alabama, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Clemson. This fall, he has taken unofficial visits to Penn State and Ohio State, visiting the Buckeyes last weekend to watch their 62-14 dismantling of Maryland.
Smith is a 4-star prospect who is rated as the No. 6 weakside defensive end in the country, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Wisconsin has offered scholarships to six defensive ends in the 2019 class but doesn’t appear to be in the running for any of them. Zach Harrison (Lewis Center, Ohio) is considered a lock to pick Ohio State, Joseph Weté (Washington, D.C.) has a dozen offers and is a Penn State lean, Khris Bogle (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) has 30 offers and is likely to select Florida State, 5-star prospect Antonio Alfano (Rahway, N.J.) is a Penn State lean and Braylan Ingraham (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) has high interest in Miami.
Smith plays middle linebacker and tight end as well as participates on special teams in high school, and the midseason highlights from his junior campaign are pretty special.
The first highlight shows Smith barreling through the middle of the line on an extra point try, timing the snap perfectly and knocking over the holder before the kick is attempted. His pursuit of the ball and ability to track down players from across the field is eye opening. In the third highlight, he appears to be completely out of the play as a running back breaks loose down the right sideline. Smith cuts him off, lowers his shoulder and knocks the ball carrier’s helmet off.
Without question, he’ll make some college program quite happy. But whether Wisconsin can get him on campus for a visit remains to be seen.
Is Wisconsin hoops angling toward Taylor Currie?
Wisconsin’s basketball program still has a scholarship to fill in the 2018 recruiting class, and the Badgers continue to show interest in 6-8, 200-pound forward Taylor Currie (Clarkston, Mich.).
Currie committed to Michigan on June 15 but de-committed on Sept. 29. Since reopening his recruitment, Wisconsin has been among a handful of schools to keep tabs on Currie. According to Evan Flood of Badger247.com, Badgers assistant coach Dean Oliver watched Currie last Thursday.
Currie will visit Wisconsin the weekend of Oct. 21, when the Badgers football team plays host to Maryland.
“I know how good of a man, how good of a coach Greg Gard is,” Currie told Flood. “They’ve had some successful NCAA tournament runs over the years. I see myself being able to play a lot like Frank Kaminsky and Ethan Happ.”
Currie is a 3-star prospect that is the No. 8 player in Michigan, according to the 247Sports composite ratings. Given that Wisconsin did not offer forward Jack Hemphill (Raleigh, N.C.) a scholarship on his visit last weekend, perhaps an offer could be coming for Currie.
According to his highlight video, Currie shot 54 percent from the field as a sophomore last season and averaged 8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Clarkston High finished 27-1 last season and won the Class A state championship in Michigan. Currie finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the game.
Currie originally was a 2019 prospect but reclassified for the 2018 class upon committing to Michigan because he was ahead in his high school credits. He turned 17 in August. Wisconsin currently has only one player committed in the 2018 class in shooting guard Tyler Herro (Milwaukee). If a scholarship offer comes on his visit, Currie might become the second.
“They love how hard I play and how I play the game,” Currie said of the Badgers. “They think I fit their system really well. That’s something that’s really intriguing to me. I think it’s a great fit. Wisconsin is a great school, and I’m excited to get up there and visit.”