National Signing Day is here and with just one hat dance with Wisconsin in on it, it is time to figure out what this class is going to be like once the ‘Motion W’ gets put on for real.
The fax machines have been dusted off and the National Letter’s of Intents are being put in to the machines. With those formalities out of the way, it is time to look to the future for these players.
Some players are going to make big impacts quickly, others may take longer. It could be developmental time needed or simply the roster of players in front of these signees.
But, today we’re interested in those players who may be longer-term prospects in this class. some names may surprise you, others may be quicker to the field than we believe.
Let’s take a look at those players who have the biggest potential to make an impact down the road instead of right off the bat.
Kayden Lyles, OG
If the younger and older Lyles brothers had just been switched around in terms of years, then we’d likely be talking about one of the most immediately impactful signings of this class. However, the Badgers are absolutely loaded at guard as we speak and Lyles is coming in to a position group with a sophomore and junior-to-be starting already. Will Lyles be able to make an impact that quickly?
It is likely we’re going to see him redshirt so they can get the most out of him in terms of time available. This is a player you’re going to want to remember come 2019, because he is an absolute mauler.
Faion Hicks, CB
Wisconsin’s history of defensive backs out of Florida is a rather good one. Just ask Sojourn Shelton, Aaron Henry and host of other names to come through Wisconsin in the past decade. One player who may be a hidden gem in this class happens to be Faion Hicks out of Hollywood, Fla.
At 5-11, 180 pounds, Hicks has some good size to him already and he is on campus as one of the six early-enrollee’s the Badgers have for this class. While that is to his advantage, the reality is Wisconsin also has a pretty decent log-jam at cornerback. With Natrell Jamerson and Derrick Tindal likely to take on the starting rolls and some other young talent in the mix as well, look for Hicks to not have as much pressure to be impactful right away.
However, his film suggests he could be yet another dynamic playmaker for Wisconsin in the defensive backfield thanks to his speed and ability to read a quarterback this early in his career.
Aaron Vopal, DE
As much attention as the linebackers get at the University of Wisconsin, the defensive line isn’t too shabby these days either. In fact, it might be the deepest position on the defensive side of the football.
Wisconsin adds a nice piece to the puzzle with De Pere, Wis. signee, Aaron Vopal. He’s got the prototypical frame but likely needs to add a bit of weight to get to where the Badgers want their defensive ends to be.
I see him in the mold of fellow in-state defensive ends like Conor Sheehy, Billy Hirschfeld and David Pfaff. Given all of those players are likely ahead of him, it could be awhile before you see him on the field, but don’t sleep on him as a productive member of this class down the road. I’d expect him to be a really good player for them in his junior and senior seasons.
Jonathan Taylor, RB
The 2017 season could be an interesting one at the running back position, which means this pick could be a foolish one for the “long-term” category. However, it certainly appears that soon-to-be redshirt sophomore Bradrick Shaw and Pitt transfer Chris James are going to have a lock on the top two spots at the position coming in to spring camp.
When you think New Jersey running back, generally that’s a good sign at Wisconsin. Names like Ron Dayne and Corey Clement immediately come to mind. Taylor isn’t Dayne’s bowling ball size, nor does he have the great moves of Clement just yet. What Taylor does is that rare combination of size and speed.
Taylor won’t be on the UW campus until the summer, and that puts him at a disadvantage. But, should anyone of them go down, we’d be comfortable moving Taylor up to the
Cade Green, WR
The wide receiver position is one that can be difficult to project at the next level. However, there is one thing you can’t teach anyone that plays this game — speed. Green just so happens to possess a lot of it and after watching his film and looking at Wisconsin’s depth chart he may be just a year or two away from being a major player for Chryst’s offense.
Wisconsin really doesn’t have a player who can truly play the slot position on the roster right now. Perhaps that is A.J. Taylor coming in to 2017, but Green is likely the future hope for diversity on its receiving group. His size may not be great yet, but a year or two in the weight room and Green could be a really dangerous receiver down the line.
It isn’t like he doesn’t have the championship pedigree to get the job done at the next level. Green finished his senior season with 56 receptions for 1,044 yards and 13 touchdowns while his Lake Travis team won the Texas 6A state championship.
Should he get on the field early, it may be as a punt returner, where his speed reminds me a lot of what Alex Erickson could do. However, I fully expect Green to be a player that the Badgers build up and allow to grow instead of throwing him to the wolves early on.