MnB B1G Preview: Burgeoning Badgers

The Badgers brought home what was by far the smallest class in the B1G this year, netting only 12 signees from the 2012 cycle. As of this point in the 2013 class, they're only one short of that number at 11 commitments.

Still, while the class may not be deep in numbers, it does sport quite a bit of burgeoning talent. CA QB Bart Houston selected the Badgers early on in the process over offers from many of the second tier PAC-12 teams like UCLA, Colorado, and Arizona. At that point, I wasn't too high on Houston. A lot of sites had been reporting interest between Michigan and Houston, and I believed him to be lower on the totem pole then some of the other guys we could have been actively pursuing, like Zeke Pike or Zach Kline. I have, however, seen improvement since his underclassmen years, and am impressed by his senior highlights. Still, he'll be forced to redshirt this year (which was a distinct possibility anyway) and learn the ropes.

Wisconsin landed the signature of two runningbacks in an attempt to keep the strong tradition of dominant Wisconsin running games alive. WI RB Vonte Jackson, who held a Michigan offer, looks to have woeful competition, but is still an intriguing combination of power and size. Any chance at contributing early was also derailed by injury, however, as Jackson injured his knee during his senior season essentially locking in another redshirt. WI RB Leo Musso is a shifty, smaller back that Beilema grabbed the week leading up to signing day. While his athleticism impresses (duh, he's a running back), he looks like he has a tendency to drop his head while he's going through traffic, something that obviously is detrimental to his vision. At 5'10, 170 I can't imagine he'll be seeing much playing time this upcoming season.

The only WR in the class, FL WR Reggie Love, looks to be an adequate possession receiver. His speed won't impress many, but he does have college ready size and a quality pair of hands. Love chose Wisconsin over offers from Boston College and a bevy of smaller local programs.

With Urban Meyer knocking on the door of Camp Randall for prospects like OH OL Kyle Dodson, a longtime Badger commit, Bielema was forced to knock down every door and pursue every opportunity to bring in the right class. The lowpoint of the search was when WI OT Levon Myers chose to honor his commitment to Northern Illinois, although I certainly don't blame the kid-it's admirable to see that kind of commitment from a kid nowadays. The staff still cleaned up nicely, adding the late commitment of former Ole Miss OL Jake Meador. Meador had an impressive offer list from the likes of Florida, Missouri, and Louisville, but felt at home when he took his final official visit to Camp Randall the week before signing day. I'm a fan of WA OL Walker Williams, former workout buddy of Michigan target Josh Garnett. Although his highlight tape is fairly comical, since he plays in a league with small, small players, Williams is a well developed player. Some of his 330 lb frame could probably use some trimming, but he plays with an excellent understanding of leverage for someone his size, and shows exceptional drive blocking skills. It's a good thing that Jon Budmayr (6') will likely never quarterback behind Williams as an OG, but his height shouldn't be a problem for the likes of Danny O'Brien (6'4) or Bart Houston (6'4). Speaking of strong drive blockers, perhaps the best player in the entire class would have to be WI OL Dan Voltz. Sporting offers from the likes of Auburn, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, and Notre Dame when he committed to Wiscy, Voltz is a bona fide blue chipper. I'm not uncomfortable prognosticating that Voltz will be the next in line of dominant Wisconsin big men.

On the defensive side of the ball, only one true big man was added; PA DL Arthur Goldberg. I'm not enamored with his ability to get off the ball, but once he's up, he's incredibly agile for his 270 pound frame. His lack of explosiveness might limit his football future beyond Camp Randall, but he still looks like he could be a potential starter down the road.

Going into the 2012 recruiting cycle, Michigan was hurting badly for linebackers. Although they landed four high quality kids in February, I was very bummed out that they missed on WI LB Vince Biegel. He had an early top 3 of BYU, Michigan, and Wisconsin before dropping for the Badgers. Biegel, quite simply, is a technician. He isn't incredibly athletic or explosive, but he has excellent instincts and tackling ability. Biegel could strongly compete with Voltz for the honor of class MVP.

Although NJ DB D.J. Singleton could essentially had an exceptional offer list, I've never been too impressed by his tape. He looks slight for LB (although I think he'll eventually end up there), and doesn't seem to have a good enough frame to pass for a safety. If used appropriately, Singleton could make an impact, I'm just not sure what role that would be in.

The class was topped off by two out of state cornerbacks. Having played QB in high school, PA CB Reggie Mitchell might have a mental step up on his competition, but he'll need it. Quite simply, I don't think he has the athleticism or suddenness to be an elite DB in the Big Ten. On the other hand, I think they might have landed a bit of a steal in NOTY candidate and FL CB Hugs Etienne. I mean, sweet mercy, any excuse to name an article 'Physical Hugs'. Should he dominate at the next level, I simply cannot wait for all of the witty and ironic headlines.

All in all, it's a class short on numbers. While I'm not incredibly impressed with a lot of the talent, there are a few players in the class that I think it would be hard to keep out of the limelight.









BEST NAME--> Hugs Etienne

THE FINAL VERDICT--UNDER OR OVERRATED CLASS? As always, the sites have Wisconsin low on the totem pole because of a lack of numbers. Still, the average talent has to be better than the likes of Penn State, although Scout would disagree. I'll say a little underrated.

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