Baby Badgers: Getting to know the 2016 cornerback offers

In Gary Andersen’s first class at UW he saved the commitment of Sojourn Shelton, and it proved to be a very good thing indeed as the freshman corner went on to become a bright spot in the Badgers secondary. Shelton went from early entrant to starting every game and leading the Badgers in interceptions and being named honorable mention All-Big Ten.

Fast forward to Andersen’s first full recruiting cycle and he added some more talent with Derrick Tindal. As we head in to the 2016 recruiting cycle, one look at the potential roster for UW shows the Badgers could be adding as many as three or four corners in the class. With four cornerbacks likely to be graduating following the 2015 season that would be a safe assumption.

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Now, let us introduce you to the offers Wisconsin has put out to cornerbacks in the class of 2016.

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 Offers out in the class of 2016:

Wayne Davis:

Check out his sophomore highlights via Hudl.

Davis earned first-team All-State honors last season as a sophomore in VIRGINIA folks. To say this kid is the real deal at corner is an understatement. Of course, his highlight tape is also full of really bad quarterback play, but there’s also a player who closes in on plays quickly and high-points a ball better than most wide receivers.

He’s drawing a lot of Big Ten interest to date, and his offer sheet reflects his talent. Not only is Wisconsin in the mix, but so are Ohio State, Clemson, North Carolina and Tennessee. There are two Crystal Ball predictions out on Davis, and both are for Ohio State. However, both come from Ohio State blog Land-Grant Holy Land (so take it for what its worth…which isn’t much) and no one is listed with even a “warm” or “warmer” next to the school.

Nygel Edmonds:

Instincts, instincts and more instincts. When you watch the film on Edmonds you see a player who plays hard, plays fast and most importantly plays with his gut. He isn’t afraid to come up and hit in the run game and he also is pretty good at recognizing the play in front of him and making the right move more often than not. What also stands out on his sophomore film is that he’s a bit ahead of most corners in his class in terms of his fundamentals.

However, we didn’t see a lot of bump-and-run coverage on tape and that concerns me a bit—simply because Wisconsin CBs are going to be asked to be on islands more than they are in two-deep coverage under Dave Aranda.

There is clearly a lot of talent in the Atlanta-area prospect, and Wisconsin would be lucky to land his commitment. Edmonds already has 12 offers from FBS programs, including the likes of Cal, Miami (FL), Clemson, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Duke and Virginia Tech to name a few. Clearly this won’t be an easy battle to win, but there haven’t been any front-runners named in his recruitment to date.

Mecole Hardman:

The 5’11”, 170-pound prospect out of Georgia is another potential star at cornerback, and by now we hope you’re seeing a trend with these early offers at skill positions. Basically, Wisconsin is getting in the mix early with names that will eventually end up as a major find at cornerback at the collegiate level.

One look at Hardman’s film and it’s easy to see why that would be the case. Sure, all we see is him as a quarterback in high school, but we also a guy who can flat out fly with the ball in his hands. We also see a guy with great instincts and an arm that just won’t cut it as a QB at the next level. The speed and instincts make him a natural fit at CB instead, and if UW could land him that would be a major get.

Right now, Hardman has offers from the Badgers, along with Tennessee, Kentucky and Miami (FL). It is early, but both Georgia and Georgia Tech have yet to offer the sophomore and that could be a dangerous situation given the recruiting prowess of the schools already to offer him.

Jared Mayden:

Sachse High School (Houston area) is one of the few schools Wisconsin has planted its flag at in the state of Texas, and Mayden is one of two 2016 targets at the school with an offer from UW. Along with wide receiver Devin Duvernay, UW is hoping the inroads it is making at the school eventually pay off with a signed national letter of intent in 2016.

Oh, and if this recruiting video doesn’t scream Wisconsin Badgers, I don’t know what does:

Mayden (a 4-star rated CB by 247Sports) has a lot of the tools any coach would love to have, and clearly the trend for Wisconsin in this class is to find players who are not only athletic, but also aren’t afraid to hit. Additionally, we see a trend of finding taller players to play at corner as well. In looking at the film of the players UW has offers out to, Mayden is perhaps the best all-around performer at CB we see.

However, there are some technique issues at hand—mainly in how he comes in and out of breaks and the fact that he doesn’t seem to get low enough at the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis. In Dave Aranda’s defense that won’t fly and neither will it against the physical nature of Big Ten receivers.  Don’t get me wrong, Mayden is a special talent indeed, but those are just small observations that will come with more reps and more time on the field with coaches.

One look at the information available via 247Sports suggests this could be a lost cause for the Badgers though, as Texas schools (and Oklahoma) appear to be separating themselves from the rest of the pack early on. As much as the film shows his talent, don’t hold your breath that this offer ends up with Wisconsin or a non-Big 12 team winning his signature in 2016.

Dontay Mayfield:

Wisconsin is swinging for the fences with its early offers out to cornerbacks in the 2016 class, and not just on an individual level either. The Badgers aren’t afraid to step in and offer the best talent at some of the best schools in their respective states. It’s the case here with the offer to 6’1″, 170-pound Dontay Mayfield of Gulliver Prep in Miami, FL.

While we don’t see a lot of his corner skills in this highlight package, we also see the same theme—speed and instincts. We also see a man among boys (and he’s only a sophomore), which means there’s a lot of potential to mold him in to something really good at the collegiate level.

Right now, the Badgers are the only CFP-eligible team to make an official offer to Mayfield. He holds other offers from the likes of newly minted FBS team Appalachian State and Cincinnati, South Florida and Western Michigan as well. He joins teammate Charles Callender with an offer from UW in the 2016 class.

There isn’t a lot known about his thoughts on the recruiting process just yet, but UW sits in a good position as his biggest offer to date.

Levonta Taylor:

Let’s just put Taylor, a 5’10”, 170-pound corner in tot the “dream” category, because if he escapes the state of Virginia it will be a miracle. He’s the No. 4-ranked cornerback in the 247Sports composite rankings and No. 3-ranked by 247Sports themselves.

And here’s why:

Virginia appears to be the early leader for his signature, but Ohio State and Wisconsin are one of the few schools with a dedicated recruiter next to their name in the interests. UW would be lucky to get in deep in this recruitment, and it is worth keeping an eye out over the next year.

Who Becomes a Badger (in order of likelihood):
1. Dontay Mayfield
2. Nygel Edmonds
3. Wayne Davis
4. Mecole Hardman
5. Levonta Taylor

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site