Wisconsin has been adding to it’s defensive side of the ball in droves, and on Thursday the Badgers got a third addition to the defensive end position in the form of 3-star Jake Pickard out of Millburn (N.J.) Senior High School.
It was the Badgers’ second commitment this week, joining solid 3-star running back Dominic Sheppard as members of the UW class of 2015. With the commitment of Pickard, Wisconsin became the No. 20-ranked class in the country and stayed at the No. 3 spot in the Big Ten for the 2015 class.
The one thing Wisconsin has been good at doing in this class is finding hidden gems, but Pickard is hardly that. He held offers from the likes of Boston College, Cincinnati, UConn, Illinois, Louisville, Nebraska, Oregon, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia.
In fact, Wisconsin sealed up this commitment rather quickly, offering Pickard earlier in July and getting his verbal pledge just a few weeks later. A feat that is truly impressive considering the heavy hitters in on his recruitment.
Winning out for this kind of talent could be a huge plus for the Badgers, as his high school coach told our recruiting partners at Badger247 he is the “big brother” of the Millburn football program. His high school is also high on Pickard off the field as well.
“Wisconsin was huge on him as a player and his character off the field and how he handles himself,” Millburn head coach Patrick Leonardis said to Badger247. “We use the sayings in our program all the time, ‘right place, right time’ and ‘do the right thing’ and Jake is the one that makes sure his teammates are doing that.”
The 6’6, 231-pounder isn’t just a defensive end, Pickard is asked to do a lot of different things on the field. He plays tight end and also a bit of linebacker at times for Millburn.
One look at the film on Pickard and you can see there’s a lot of potential, but that he’s also still raw. It’s the type of kid the Badgers coaching staff has shown a proclivity towards early on in the Gary Andersen era.
One name immediately comes to mind when I see and hear about Jake Pickard is that of former Badger, J.J. Watt. No, I’m not saying he’s going to be a future NFL defensive Player of the Year or anything like that right out of the gate. Yet, it’s hard not to notice the parallels in athletic ability and leadership between the two. Those were always traits that Watt brought to the table and Pickard seems to have both of those as well.
Say nothing of the fact that Watt was a tight end/defensive end combo in high school, who ended up as one of the most dominate defensive ends Wisconsin has ever produced. He was able to combine power with athleticism in a way few have in the Cardinal and White, and Pickard has that same mix to him. He’s also a raw defensive end, as he’s been asked to play a few positions at the high school level. I fully expect him to take a year or two to groom and hone his craft at the position, but he’s got the makeup to be something good for the Badgers down the road. Keep his name in the back of your memory around 2017 or 2018, as he could be a great one by then.