Three-Point Stance: Midwest freshmen, Wisconsin, late bloomers
Rivals recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove is here with five Midwest prospects that will outplay their rating, an examination of the Wisconsin Badgers and a look at Midwest college stars that are now coveted by the NFL.
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1. FIVE MIDWEST FRESHMEN THAT WILL OUTPLAY THEIR RATING IN 2022
1. DE Chase Carter, Michigan State: Carter's potential is through the roof and don't be surprised to see him playing on Sundays in a few years. The DE from Minnesota had FBS offers in both football and basketball. His combination of frame and athleticism are as good as you will find from a three-star.
2. DT Mariere Omonode, Purdue: What Omonode lacks in prototypical size he makes up for with explosiveness and motor. Think of a poor man's Aaron Donald, and I mean that in the best way possible. Had he been two inches taller his recruitment would have looked a lot different.
3. TE Cael Vanderbush, Iowa: Vanderbush was a one-time Western Michigan commit and I thought he was the steal of the MAC at that point. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Iowa thought the same thing. With Iowa's history of taking tight ends in the mold of Vanderbush and making them bona fide pro prospects, I like his chances here.
4. DB Malachi Hood, Illinois: Hood is that rare prospect that can cover like a corner, slide into the box as a linebacker, and come off the edge like a defensive end. His game is built for today's style of play and look for him to contribute early on in his career at Illinois.
5. QB Jack Lausch, Northwestern: Lausch was headed to Notre Dame as a baseball player and was walking on to play football for the Irish before Northwestern offered him a scholarship he couldn't refuse. This kid is a flat-out gamer and a winner. As a two-star, I would be shocked if he doesn't outplay his rating by a lot.
2. WISCONSIN LOOKING TO GET ITS SWAGGER BACK
After a sub-par season by Wisconsin standards, and a recruiting class ranked well below what it brought in the previous year, what is next for the Badgers? Are they slowly falling from one of the most feared matchups in the Big Ten, or was last season an anomaly? While the Badgers lose a number of players to the NFL, they also have multiple highly rated underclassmen who should be ready to shine.
You can always count on Jim Leonhard's defense to show up, but they have to replace most of their secondary and linebackers, and although I expect the unit to be strong again, it may take some time for the grad transfers and new starters to gel.
Will a re-tooled offense led by new coordinator Bobby Engram be good enough to carry Wisconsin early on if the defense takes some time to get its footing? This could be a very telling year for Wisconsin and determine the direction of the program for years to come.
3. UNDERAPPRECIATED TO HIGHLY COVETED: MIDWEST EDITION
Here's a look at five Midwest standouts that flew under the radar as high school recruits but are now highly coveted NFL Draft prospects.
1. Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa: We weren't the only ones who missed on Penning as evidenced by the fact that Northern Iowa was the only program to offer him a scholarship out of high school. Penning went on to star with the Panthers and is expected to be drafted in the first round.
2. Boye Mafe, Minnesota: While I was a big fan of Mafe coming out of high school, I could have never predicted him to be this good. The two-star defensive end who went on to star at Minnesota and thrive under the coaching of former Minnesota defensive line coach Chad Wilt last season is looking to be one of the top edge rushers in the draft.
3. Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma: I had the opportunity to see Winfrey a number of times in high school and I have to say this one doesn't actually shock me. He always had this type of talent, but it was academics that limited him to a single offer from Wyoming and zero stars coming out of high school. Winfrey went on to thrive at junior college and later with Oklahoma. While this may not be shocking for those who were around Winfrey as a prep, it is shocking from the perspective of how high he has risen since his high school days.
4. Leo Chenal, Wisconsin: Chenal had two D-I offers coming out of high school: South Dakota State and Wisconsin. He chose Wisconsin and the rest is history. Chenal embodies toughness at the linebacker position, and although he showed promise in high school, few could have predicted his dominance and meteoric rise as a draft pick.
5. Charlie Kolar, Iowa State: Kolar had two Power Five offers coming out of high school. Looking back at the film and size it is hard to determine why, because he did flash upside. But he was also a little mechanical and not what I would have considered an elite athlete at the time. Things sure came together at Iowa State and now Kolar has a chance at being an early to mid-round draft pick.