(Photo: Rochelle Olson, Dunn County News , 247Sports)

Wisconsin Badgers add in-state linebacker to 2016 class

So much for a quiet run up to an all-important spring game weekend on the recruiting trail for the Wisconsin Badgers and head coach Paul Chryst. Late Tuesday night the Badgers added a verbal pledge from in-state linebacker Mason Stokke.

The Menomonie, Wis. native became the fourth pledge to the 2016 class, and the second in-state player to commit to UW already in the class. Stokke joins defensive end Luke Benzschawel.

According to our recruiting partners at Badger247, Stokke is rated an 84 by 247Sports and is an unranked player. However, he is a two-star prospect and the No. 94-ranked outside linebacker in the 2016 class.

Don’t let the low rankings or lack of stars fool you though, this was a nice get for the Badgers.He was a real 50/50 player and could’ve easily been an Iowa Hawkeye if the Badgers’ efforts weren’t so genuine in approaching the in-state prospect.

Stokke’s biggest asset is his ability to range from sideline to sideline and his overall strength. One area he’ll have to improve on is his ability to be a pass rusher, something needed by all outside linebackers in the 3-4 defense under Dave Aranda.

More so than his on-field exploits, many in the recruiting field believe Stokke is a player that along with Antonio Williams can become a lynchpin of the class. Why? Stokke is a player who others in the state of Wisconsin look up to, and his commitment to the Badgers means a lot to other top prospects.

It doesn’t mean the Badgers are shoo-in’s for 5-star offensive lineman Ben Bredeson or 4-star offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen, however his verbal pledge can also help solidify the importance placed on in-state prospects by Chryst and his staff.

Even more interesting is what this does for the Badgers on the recruiting trail at the outside linebacker position. Stokke’s commitment means spots are very limited in a class where maybe two or three more outside linebackers will be taken.

It could mean UW is in a position to make a run at 4-star linebacker Noah Burks out of Carmel, Ind. and that certainly would help make up for the loss of names like Tuf Borland and Tristian Pipp earlier in the spring.


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, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com