Player: Nick Thomas, ILB
247Sports composite rankings: 3-star, NR nationally, No. 56 ILB, No. 299 in FL
Why: No doubt the offseason attention will be on the depth at running back with Melvin Gordon gone and the likely open quarterback battle as well. However, the real story is what is happening at middle linebacker. That’s why UW’s get of Nick Thomas is so important — there’s little depth and even less in terms of experience at the position.
Thomas is an early enrollee, one of five to do that, and it could be the difference between the Badgers hanging with the elite of the conference and struggling to compete. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has always been high on the potential for Thomas to be an instant impact signee.
Given the lack of depth at middle linebacker, Aranda needs to be right from the first time Thomas steps on the practice field. The interesting part will be seeing Thomas paired with D’Cota Dixon, who was having a promising start to his career before a shoulder injury cut his season short. Outside of those two there’s not much for the Badgers to count on at inside linebacker in 2015.
So, while everyone will talk about the running backs signed and quarterback Austin Kafentzis, the Badgers are going to struggle if Thomas isn’t ready to go from the first game on — and that makes him the most important signee in the Badgers 2015 class.