Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A look at the Badgers' football recruits

Bret Bielema signed his latest recruiting class when I was still recovering from my Germany jet lag, so I've been remiss about commenting on our latest round of new Badgers.

Maybe that's because this class didn't have the pizazz of some of our other classes — no John Clays or Josh Oglesbys. Maybe it's because my least favorite Big Ten coach, Tim Brewster, signed what is being heralded as a terrific class at Minnesota.

Or maybe it's because I've finally come to realize that, while it can be fun to follow, getting really worked up about football recruiting is pointless. It would be one thing if we were players in the Terrelle Pryor derby, but we're not. Here is my take on football recruiting in a nutshell:

-We will never rank near the top of the Big Ten recruiting rankings. Ohio State and Michigan will always be 1-2, and Penn State will usually be third. Some school like Iowa or Minnesota or Wisconsin will sneak into the #4 spot on occasion. That doesn't always translate into wins - the core of Iowa's last two disappointing teams was a recruiting class considered the school's best-ever, while their success preceding that came with players who may have flown under the radar in the recruiting process.

-If you get a lot of capable kids and coach them up, you'll have a chance, even against all the bandwagon-jumping mercenaries suiting up for the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

-Getting the key in-state kids to come to Madison will always be our top priority, and with a few exceptions (Adam Stenavich) we've been outstanding in this area since Barry took over. This year is no exception.

-Complementing the signees with solid walk-ons is critical.

-Our best teams have not been led by highly-ranked recruiting classes, but rather by deep classes that didn't have many busts.

So what about this year's class? I like Tyler Westphal, the defensive end from Menasha. Iola-Scandinavia scrimmaged Menasha this year, and my buddies who saw it said Westphal just threw our kids around - and we were state finalists.

The offensive line signees - Neenah's Peter Konz, Wisconsin Lutheran's Kevin Zeitler (left), Joe Schafer of Minnesota, Jake Current from Ohio - seem poised to carry on our tradition up front. I like that we signed so many defensive backs from Florida and Texas, and loaded up on defense in general (14 of 23 signees).

We signed a junior college transfer, Dan Moore, to help immediately on the defensive line. Thankfully, we haven't relied on Juco guys too much over the years, but sometimes you need them to plug holes. Clearly we're thin on the defensive front, so Moore will get his shot.

Curt Phillips (right) has already enrolled in school, will take part in spring practice, and might have a chance to compete for the starting quarterback job this fall (although my money would be on Allan Evridge). I'm excited about this guy. And the kid who may have the biggest immediate impact is Brad Nortman, a highly-regarded punter from Brookfield Central.

An interesting side note: Jim Polzin wrote an interesting story fleshing out something we touched on here a couple months ago. Basically, Jim points out that we signed six players from SEC states, three from Texas, and none from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. This is because the current batch of assistants doesn't have ties there like past staffs had. Let's just hope Florida, Texas, and the other warm weather states we're now mining are as good to us as New England has been.

6 comments:

mjschwal said...

As I continue to look at this class, I really like it. Nothing to knock your socks off but it seems very solid up and down.

Interesting comment during Bielema's presser talking about recruiting strategy: "We view Minnesota as in-state and recruit it as such." Considering Michael Floyd (WR) went to Notre Dame, Willie Mobley (DL) went to Ohio State, and Sam Maresh (LB) went to the Goofers, I would say there's still work to be done for Minny to be considered in-state.

Regardless, it's comments like these that really raises the dander of other teams' fans. It can come across as pretty cocky. I kind of like it, especially when speaking of anything Gopher-related.

Scott Tappa said...

I missed that comment from BB, but any time Schwalbach says "dander" it makes me want to wash my hair.

Frank said...

Better term: Dander or pizazz?

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