After gaining a lot of momentum with in-state additions last week, the Badgers are ending the month of January on a pretty sour note for the 2015 recruiting class. Not only did a pair of Texas high school teammates have to part ways with the Badgers, but now word has come that a pair of crucial defensive linemen have de-committed and chosen other schools.
First it was 3-star defensive end Jake Pickard, who had been committed to the Badgers since January. Our recruiting partners at Badger247 have been told by Pickard that he is choosing to sign with Syracuse instead of with Wisconsin next Wednesday.
Later on Friday night, one of the biggest defensive commits also went elsewhere. Nate Howard, out of St. Louis, Mo. chose to stay in state and will sign with the Missouri Tigers when national signing rolls around.
That means the Badgers have went from 26 commitments just this past weekend to now sitting with 20 players committed.
About the only bit of good news entering the weekend was that 3-star athlete Titus Booker will not visit Michigan and pledged his commitment to the Badgers as 100 percent solid.
UW will have a chance to add to the class this weekend, but will need to work hard with 4-star safety/outside linebacker Arrington Farrar and 3-star outside linebacker Terez Hall. The latter is on campus as we speak before heading to Nebraska on Saturday, meaning UW has one chance to knock this out of the park.
Things will be a lot harder for Farrar, who appears torn between Notre Dame and the Badgers. Adding his talents to the class would certainly be a great help to what has been a difficult week.
Not all of it is on the coaching change either, as some of the de-commitments came because of borderline academic situations and others came because of relationships that mattered more than the school the player was going to go to.
A great example of that is current “commit” Dominic Sheppard, who has really moved on from the Badgers for the better part of a month and will visit the University of Virginia this weekend. He had a great relationship with his recruiter, Chris Beatty, and that appears to be the driving force in where he goes.
Davon Crookshank also appears to not fit the plans of the new coaching staff. So, while the official number of commitments to the Badgers stands at 21 after Fridayâ€™s losses, itâ€™s a matter of when and not if the Badgers will be under 20 members of the 2015 class.
In those cases thereâ€™s little the new coaching staff couldâ€™ve done or wanted to do with some of those players, but the simple fact is the Badgers have now lost many of the top defensive commitments they had rolling in to January. That isnâ€™t very fun to think about heading in to national signing day, and unless a rabbit is pulled out of the hat it may be time to focus hard on getting things rolling for the 2016 recruiting class.
One interesting prospect to watch this weekend is what happens once Wausau (Wis.) West linebacker Jake Whalen comes on campus. There clearly is space for the Badgers to upgrade his offer from a greyshirt to a full scholarship offer now. Will it happen? Thatâ€™s a great question to watch for an answer to.
Still, this weekend promises to be interesting on the recruiting front for the Badgers.
Here is the updated scholarship chart reflecting the changes to the 2015 class: