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Three-Point Stance: Coaches on the rise, Wisconsin targets, Illinois

Jeremy Chadwell
Jeremy Chadwell (AP Images)

National recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove weighs in with a trio of Group of Five coaches who have bright futures and four Midwest 2023 recruits Wisconsin should be targeting. He also takes a look at how Illinois is rolling this season.

MORE THREE-POINT STANCE: Texas A&M, Iowa, coaches with momentum

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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100

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1. Group of Five coaches who are ready to rise.

Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina: With a 27-3 record over the past 30 games, Chadwell has the Chanticleers rolling and they don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The thing I love most about Chadwell is that he has proven capable of building powerhouse programs regardless of the division he is in or the resources he has been dealt. His name is already popping up for Power Five vacancies and should the right opportunity come along Coastal Carolina will likely have its hands full trying to retain him.

Sean Lewis, Kent State: Kent State had a murderers row for a schedule to start the year, and while the 2-3 record on paper may not blow anyone away Lewis has proven that he can flat-out coach during his tenure with the Golden Flashes. The former Wisconsin player is an offensive guru who had already proven his chops as a coordinator at the Power Five level prior to taking over at Kent State, where he has thrived. Along with Lewis' FlashFAST offense setting numerous school records, he also led Kent State to its first-ever bowl victory in just his second season at the helm. Lewis is young, energetic and innovative. Should he not land a Power Five job this season, look for one of college football's bluebloods to lure him in for a high paying offensive coordinator job.

Kane Wommack, South Alabama: The 35-year-old Wommack has South Alabama rolling with a 4-1 record to start his second season in Alabama. The Jaguars' lone loss came on the road to No. 18 UCLA, and they led heading into the fourth quarter, only to eventually lose 32-31. While the sample size is small, Wommack has been impressive as a defensive coordinator at previous stops and has shown his ability to build a dangerous program in a short amount of time.

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2. Four Midwest 2023 recruits Wisconsin should pursue - or attempt to flip. 

Malachi Coleman
Malachi Coleman (Greg Smith/Inside Nebraska)

ATH Malachi Coleman: The Nebraska native is as freaky as they come, and although his commitment date is just around the corner it doesn't hurt for the Badgers to give it their best shot. I do believe Coleman is focusing on his previously released top seven, but with new blood in Madison and Coleman's potential fit as an edge in Jim Leonhard's defense I would make him tell me "no" before I abandoned this recruitment.

S Kahlil Tate - Iowa commit: Tate chose the Hawkeyes over the Badgers when he announced his commitment to Iowa in July. While I believe Tate is solid with the Hawkeyes, I also know that he connected with Leonhard throughout the recruiting process and the programs were neck and neck until the very end. With the former defensive coordinator now taking over as the head coach at Wisconsin, it may be worth the Badgers' time to circle back.

DE Kendrick Gilbert - Purdue commit: Although Wisconsin did not make the top four for Gilbert prior to his commitment to Purdue, the Badgers did offer the Rivals200 recruit out of Indiana. The Badgers supposedly have a need at defensive end, and if that is truly the case the allure of playing under a defensive-minded head coach at a program that consistently churns out NFL defensive linemen may be enough to make Gilbert consider Wisconsin. This is another case of trying to capitalize on any momentum that comes with a coaching change and the worst Gilbert can say is no.

QB Lincoln Keinholz - Washington commit: Wisconsin has struck out on 2023 QB recruits so far, and that will likely be a position of emphasis as the Badgers try to close out the 2023 class. Keinholz was seriously considering the Badgers prior to his commitment, and along with Washington, Wisconsin was the only other Power Five team to make his top four. The South Dakota product has major upside and this is a player Wisconsin would be wise to revisit as it establishes a recruiting plan moving forward.

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3. Illinois is rolling. 

Bret Bielema
Bret Bielema (AP Images)

To say that Bret Bielema and staff were facing an uphill battle when taking over at Illinois would be an understatement, and the speed in which Bielama has turned the program around is to be applauded. While his job is far from finished, this is a program that was in dire need of an identity following a Lovie Smith era that lacked results on the field and pretty much alienated Illinois from recruiting its home state. Even though last year's 5-7 record wasn't something to write home about, his Illinois squad exceeded expectations and even had a couple of signature wins with victories over then-No. 7 Penn State and then-No. 20 Minnesota, both of which came on the road.

Even though there were glimpses of hope in year one, the Illini entered year two under Bielema with tempered expectations from fans and media alike. Fast forward five weeks into the 2022 season and it is clear that the program has made strides that few, if any, outside of Champaign saw coming. Illinois currently sits at 4-1 overall with a signature win over Wisconsin this past weekend and its lone loss coming in the final seconds on the road to Indiana. The offense is firing on full cylinders, the defense is playing lights out and with a number of winnable games left on the schedule, the sky's the limit for what Illinois can accomplish in year two under Bielema.

The in-state recruiting is going to take some more time and there is still plenty of work to be done when it comes to building the program as a whole. But, for the first time in a while there is a buzz about Illinois football among high school coaches and recruits in the state. The product Bielema and staff have put on the field this year has proven that you can stay home and potentially compete for championships. Wins on the field will be followed by wins on the recruiting trail, and while I thought hiring Bielema was a great choice when Illinois announced him as its head football coach, the speed in which this turnaround appears to be happening has far exceeded my expectations.

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