After ex-Badgers coach Gary Andersen (a coach known for his ability on the recruiting trail) left the Badgers for Oregon State back in late 2014, Badgers fans were worried that the recent uptick in recruiting Andersen was able to bring to the table would fade away. These concerns were amplified after Barry Alvarez hired ex-Badgers Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst, a coach not known for being a strong recruiter, both during his tenure at Wisconsin and his first head coaching gig at Pittsburgh.
It has now been about 18 months since Chryst was hired, and the Badgers are doing as well as anyone could reasonably expect on the recruiting trail. Chryst played a role in keeping the 2015 class together, a class that ended up signing 19 recruits, landing in the top 40 nationally and top 6 in the B1G with a .85 average recruit grade.
The 2016 class, a class that was fully under the command of Chryst, ended up signing 25 recruits, elevating the Badgers to the 33rd ranking in the nation as well as 6th in the B1G, with a .85 average recruit grade. The Badgers also landed three four-star-recruits in Cole Van Lanen, Garrett Rand and A.J. Taylor.
The increased number of signed players while maintaining a good recruit average, as well as landing three players above the .90 rating (good enough to earn a four star rating) is enough evidence to argue that not only has coach Paul Chryst stabilized the Badgers recruiting, but he has improved it.
The 2017 class, which still has a lot of sorting out to do until signing day in February of 2017, appears to be very promising as well. The Badgers already have 10 commitments, including six players above the .85 rating. In addition, the top four players from the state of Wisconsin (according to 247 sports) have already pledged to the Badgers.
Under ex-Badgers coach Bret Bielema, the Badgers won three consecutive B1G championships from 2010-2012. During Bielema’s tenure (2006-2012), the Badgers experienced a recruiting class above a .83 team average just twice. Since Paul Chryst was hired 18 months ago, the Badgers have reeled in consecutive recruiting classes above a .85 team average, notable improvement to say the least.
In college football, where success on the recruiting trail has a clear correlation to success on the field, this noted improvement is a great sign for the Badgers. In February of 2015, fivethirtyeight.com published an article (http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/after-signing-day-wisconsin-makes-the-best-of-its-recruits/) showing that the Badgers habitually overachieve based on where they finish in recruiting rankings (study was taken from 2005-2014).
If Wisconsin’s marked improvement in recruiting over the last few years continues, paired with the Badgers ability to habitually overachieve, people might want to watch out for Paul Chryst’s team in the years ahead.
(All recruiting information is from 247 sports)