Wisconsin football recruiting: 5 takeaways after Day 1 of the Early Signing Period
The Wisconsin Badgers likely put the finishing touches on their 2021 recruiting class on Wednesday, the first day of the Early Signing Period. Everything was already put in place heading into the day, and there were no surprises. The Badgers signed all 21 expected commits for a class that could be remembered for a long time as Wisconsin continues its gradual improvement in recruiting.
Here are 5 takeaways from Day 1 of the Early Signing Period for the Badgers:
Highest rated recruiting class ever
Wisconsin football recruiting reached new heights once again as head coach Paul Chryst and his staff continue to show their chops on the recruiting trail. For the third consecutive season, Wisconsin will set a program record in the online ranking era according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings. This class checks in at No. 16 in the country, up from No. 26 last year and No. 29 in 2019.
The Badgers rank third in the B1G in this cycle behind Ohio State and Michigan. Wisconsin landed commitments from several prospects who had offers from some of the best programs across the country, including one 5-star prospect and five 4-stars.
The program should be very proud of what it was able to do in this class, and fans should be excited for the future.
Offensive linemen highlight class
No surprises here, as the three highest rated players in Wisconsin’s 2021 class perform on the offensive line. The Badgers have developed plenty of high-end NFL line prospects, so this makes a whole lot of sense. The highlight of the class is Wisconsin’s lone 5-star, offensive tackle Nolan Rucci out of Lititz, Pennsylvania. He is the brother of Badgers redshirt freshman tight end Hayden Rucci and had offers from the best of the best.
Outside of Rucci, Wisconsin’s next highest rated signees are 4-star offensive tackles JP Benzschawel and Riley Mahlman. If Benzschawel sounds familiar, it’s because he has two brothers who have been in the Wisconsin program — Luke and Beau — though neither are on the current roster. He is an in-state recruit from Grafton, Wisconsin. As for Mahlman, he comes from Lakeville, Minnesota, and like Rucci and Benzschawel, he is the No. 1 high school recruit in his state.
Badgers bring in QB out of California
Wisconsin did not bring in a quarterback in the 2020 class, which is fine, but it was important to get one this year. The Badgers got in on Deacon Hill early, and it paid off as the Californian signed on Wednesday after being committed since June 2019. Hill is listed as a 4-star recruit by 247Sports but checks in as a 3-star in their composite rankings. He is a big kid at 6-3 and 230 pounds, and Wisconsin held off a late push from UCLA. Hill also had offers from Kansas State and Nevada.
Where’d they come from?
Wisconsin has done a great job of keeping its state’s best players home, and it did so again with this class. The top 6 in-state players for 2021 signed on Wednesday, including 4-stars Benzschawel, safety Hunter Wohler and inside linebacker Braelon Allen. The other 3, all 3-stars, are running backs Jackson Acker and Loyal Crawford, and defensive end Ayo Adebogun.
While the Badgers did a good job inside the state and stuck around the Midwest for the most part, they went across the country for recruits. Here’s a breakdown:
- Wisconsin: 6
- Ohio: 3
- Minnesota: 2
- Florida: 2
- Illinois: 1
- Iowa: 1
- Pennsylvania: 1
- California: 1
- Colorado: 1
- Connecticut: 1
- Tennessee: 1
- New Jersey: 1
2022 class should be interesting
With COVID turning thing upside-down, we still do not know when recruiting will return to normal, and that’s very important for a Wisconsin program that relies on getting in on potential prospects early.
Just looking at the high school talent inside the state, the 2022 cycle could bring another special class for the Badgers. Braelon Allen was supposed to be in the 2022 class before reclassifying to get to college sooner. Still, there are five 4-star prospects in the state at this point with offensive tackle Joe Brunner, guard Carson Hinzman, offensive tackle Billy Schrauth, tight end Jerry Cross and defensive end Isaac Hamm. Of these players, only Cross has committed to a school, and it’s to Penn State, so we’ll see where he and the rest land as the Badgers look to continue recent years of success on the recruiting trail.