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Take Two: Is Wisconsin recruiting not getting enough respect?

Paul Chryst
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Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

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Wisconsin is undefeated and has won all but two of its games this season by double-digits as it charges toward the Big Ten Championship Game this weekend against Ohio State.

It was the college home of LB Vince Beigel, RBs Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, OTs Joe Thomas and Ryan Ramczyk and, of course, J.J. Watt and his brothers, among many other NFL standouts.

So why have the Badgers not been ranked near or at the top of the Big Ten recruiting rankings during the Rivals.com era? The answer could be multi-layered - from Wisconsin’s coaches having unbelievable success with walk-ons, to the staff developing underrated prospects, to many other factors that need to be considered.

The Badgers have had tremendous success especially in the last decade or so but their recruiting rankings don’t necessarily reflect just how good Wisconsin has been on the field.

Dating back to the 2010 recruiting class, Wisconsin has never finished better than fifth in the Big Ten recruiting rankings. Nationally, the Badgers’ best finish is No. 33 in 2014 and they hover in the 30s in most recruiting cycles, and have been as low as No. 87 in 2010. This season, Wisconsin is currently fifth in the Big Ten rankings and No. 28 nationally.

Wisconsin has been to five Big Ten title games since 2011, more than any other team in the conference. Is that because its division is not as difficult, or is it because the Badgers aren’t getting the ranking respect they might deserve?

RELATED: 2018 team recruiting rankings | Wisconsin commitment list


“Mostly, it’s an overblown narrative skewed by the ridiculous number of walk-ons Wisconsin has developed into NFL prospects. Out of the last 15 Wisconsin draft picks (2013-17), four of those players did not start on scholarship at Wisconsin . Walk-ons are rarely seen or evaluated by our analyst team, and thus not ranked. While others like Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon and Vince Biegel were rated four-stars out of high school, the majority focus on those walk-ons and J.J. Watt, another walk-on, when talking Wisconsin. Not even the Badgers’ coaches, though, could portend their future success as they did not offer those players scholarships out of high school. The true narrative is the Wisconsin coaches’ ability to develop players no one saw as Power Five talents into guys NFL teams wanted four to five years later.”


“It’s tough to gauge the players in the state because they don’t play very good competition. It’s a tough area to evaluate because we don’t get out there that much. It’s not like those guys are easily identifiable and you don’t see a lot of them at camps during the offseason because there is nothing really that close for them.

“Wisconsin recruits nationally. They go into other places and they find kids that nobody else wants. They’ll go out and find guys and coach them up. They don’t get these freaky athletes and these guys who will wow you on film or in person. They get guys who play tremendous system football and are very disciplined.”