The summer sure has been hot for Badger football recruiting, with a top 25-ranked class being built in 2015 and many interesting offered players with big decisions ahead later this summer and in to the fall. However, this summer should also be about familiarizing yourself with the next group to come in to Madison.
So, let us continue introducing you to the class of 2016 offered players. After a few weeks off, weâ€™re back at it with a preview of the biggest (literally and figuratively) position at Wisconsin â€” tackle.
Wisconsin will likely be looking to add a limited number of tackles in the 2016 class, especially with five players already in the fold for the 2014 class and another three already in the fold for the 2015 class. Tyler Marz will be graduated after the 2015 season and Walker Williams, who appears to be grooming for the right tackle position will be a senior by 2016.
Look for the Badgers to add at least three, if not four offensive linemen but there may only be one or two pure tackles at the next level in this class. So, now that weâ€™ve got that in mind, let us introduce you to the offers Wisconsin has out at offensive tackle.
Offensive Tackle Offers to Date:
As you can see, the Badgers early offers are mostly out to players at the top of the tackle heap, and rightfully so. Wisconsin should be able to, and has been able to, compete with anyone in the country for the top offensive line talent. That said, let us give you a look at each of the six player offered so far in the class of 2016.
There may not be an offensive lineman better at the high school level in the state of Wisconsin since Josh Oglesby, and he may even be a bit more polished at this point in the comparison. Bredeson , a 5-star prospect, was teammates with 2014 guard George Panos at powerhouse Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead, so the pedigree of players from that program should be well known to Badger fans.
However, Bredeson doesnâ€™t just have a reputation in Wisconsin high school circles, he is considered one of the best players at tackle in the entire 2016 class. Early rankings have Bredeson as the No. 11-ranked player in the country (247Sports composite), No. 2-ranked offensive tackle and the No. 1-ranked player in the state.
Keeping that highly regarded of a player is priority No. 1 for Gary Andersen and Co. and it appears early recruiting efforts are paying off. Bredeson has indicated his desire to play for UW, but also wonâ€™t be as quick as most in-state prospects to jump on the offer. Heâ€™s been to Madison for unofficial visits twice this spring and has picked up offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and Nebraska just to name a few. This isnâ€™t going to be a slam dunk recruitment, but expect UW to be the school to beat all along and donâ€™t be surprised to see him end up verbally committing to the Badgers when itâ€™s all said and done.
One look at Bredesonâ€™s tape and you see why heâ€™s that highly sought after. Heâ€™s highly athletic and has a nice frame for playing multiple positions along the line. To me, he looks the part of a tackle, but UW has always liked those guys to be big and tall and Bredeson has some growing to do in order to fulfill those requirements. No worry though, the film clearly shows a tackle who is capable of being a superstar at the next level.
Wisconsin has clearly planted its flag in the state of Georgia over the last two recruiting cycles and that isnâ€™t changing in 2016 either. One of the biggest names in the talent-rich state is that of Ben Cleveland from Toccoa (Ga.) Stephens County.
The guy is a mammoth of a man already, coming in at 6â€™7″ and 322 pounds before he even is an upperclassman. Heâ€™s a 5-star recruit and the No. 3-ranked player in the state of Georgia, so UW isnâ€™t going to be able to fly under the radar in this recruitment if it wants to win it.
Six of the 14 SEC schools have already offered, including names like Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. Add Michigan, Florida State and others to the mix and you have UW fighting it out with the big boys down south for Clevelandâ€™s commitment. Early indications have Cleveland very high on Auburn and Georgia, with 100 percent of 14 Crystal Ball predictions going the Bulldogsâ€™ way.
Tape on Cleveland isnâ€™t as readily available as others, but from what Iâ€™ve seen heâ€™s the real deal at OT and this could be a difficult get from out of the south, thatâ€™s for sure.
This is one player the Badgers have identified early that none of the scouting services have really gotten a look at. Baveon Johnson is a 6â€™4″, 275-pound prospect out of Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson and the rare offer to an offensive lineman in the state of Florida for Wisconsin.
Johnsonâ€™s offer list is growing quickly earlier in the process with names like Arizona, Indiana, Nebraska and Kentucky already in the race.
He currently is unranked by 247Sports and in the 247 composite rankings either. It may not be much longer for that to be the case though, as Johnson has had a really good summer so far, standing out at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Florida earlier this month. Not much is known about where any of the schools with offers out stand, but Wisconsin has an excellent track record of grabbing some underrated prospects in the first two full classes under Gary Andersen.
Wisconsin has an offensive lineman from Michigan in the 2015 class and are hoping to do more of the same out of that state in 2016. However, this could be a really tricky player to pull out of that state. Lukusa has long been thought of as a Michigan lean the entire process so far, and after canceling a trip to Madison for its camp a few weekends ago it wasnâ€™t a good signal in this recruitment.
At 6â€™5 and 300 pounds, Lukusa is one of the more sought after tackle prospects in the Midwest, with offers from the whoâ€™s who of Big Ten schools.
I personally love his drive and mean streak, which is something UW offensive lineman all possess or need to possess at the collegiate level. Getting him away from the Wolverines could be a very tough task and considering the numbers available, UW may be better off spending more time elsewhere.
Itâ€™s a shame because Lukusa is one of my favorite linemen Iâ€™ve seen in the 2016 recruiting cycle so far.
The 4-star prospect out of the Atlanta area is the second offensive lineman to be offered out of Georgia, which is an interesting trend to watch as this class develops. The blueprint so far has been finding OL native to Big Ten territory and finding skill position players from the likes of Georgia, Florida and Texas.
However, one look at the film of this 6â€™6″, 259-pound prospect and you can see why the Badgers are in on his recruitment early on in the 2016 cycle.
Price is one mean run blocking tackle at the high school level, but the tape also shows some raw skill that needs to be honed in in the passing game as well. Offers have come fast and furious for the No. 99-ranked player in the country and early leaders appear to be Auburn, Georgia, Michigan and Georgia Tech.
On the plus side for Wisconsin is the fact that Price appears to be taking his time with the recruiting process and isnâ€™t shutting schools out early on. However, pulling one of the best OL prospects in the south out of there would be a major coup for GA and his staff.
DeMatha High School and Wisconsinâ€™s coaching staff have built a very solid relationship in a very short timeframe. So, it should be no surprise that one of the best players at DeMatha for the 2016 class, JP Urquidez, already holds an offer from the Badgers.
However, the downside is that the 4-star prospect appears to be trending towards school in the state of Texas (where heâ€™s originally from). Currently Texas A&M and Texas hold the lead with 43 percent of the Crystal Ball predictions and UW is one of just four schools recruiting him not listed as “warm” by 247Sports.
Itâ€™s a shame though because Urquidez has a lot to offer Wisconsin from what you see on film. It will be interesting to see if the relationship he has had with Tawain Deal and other DeMatha prospects that know UWâ€™s coaching staff will put the Badgers in a better position to get in the mix.
According to reports, Urquidez plans on slowing down his recruitment and really hasnâ€™t shut any school out of the process just yet. If the Badgers can get in the mix for his services that would be a very good thing in my book.
Who Becomes a Badger (in order of likelihood):
1. Ben Bredeson
2. Baevon Johnson
3. JP Urquidez
4. Thiyo Lukusa
5. E.J. Price
6. Ben Cleveland