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Wisconsin Badgers 2018 Football Recruiting: Running Back breakdown

UW’s most visible position group enters the summer without a commit in the 2018 class. Who could change that this summer?

Spring has turned to graduation weekend at Camp Randall. That means plenty of Wisconsin Badgers football players will walk across the stage with a degree in hand. It also means coaches are out on the recruiting trail more and more when possible.

With nearly half of the 2018 recruiting class in the fold already, this summer will be all about figuring out which recruits to prioritize and which positions need the most attention. Sadly, as things stand it appears that UW’s premier position — running back — is one that will need some serious work this summer.

Previous Positions: Quarterback | Safety

How is recruiting stacking up at arguably the most visible position on Wisconsin’s offense? Let’s take a look.



This shouldn’t be surprising this early in the recruiting process. Unless the Badgers have a home run in-state kid in the mix or someone who has ties to the program, getting a top running back in the fold before the summer between junior and senior seasons is a rarity.

However, Wisconsin has missed on a few of its biggest targets and may be on the outside for its biggest priority recruit heading in to the summer. That has to be a worry for a program that needs to continue to stockpile the talent at this position.

There are nice options for the next few years on the roster, but long gone are the days of three 1,000-yard backs in the same backfield.

Recruiting Priorities:

Jahmir Smith

Wisconsin’s biggest option on the board appears to be this North Carolina prospect. Others on the board have committed elsewhere and UW has cooled off on many of them. Smith

Tavion Thomas

Some may argue that the No. 1 priority on the board is Ohio prospect Tavion Thomas and they could be right. However, Thomas’ recruitment has picked up nationally and Wisconsin, who was once thought of as the leader, certainly isn’t in the driver’s seat anymore.

Schools like Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas have all piled on. So too have Oregon and USC…and I think you get the point here. It would be a huge win for the Badgers if they could get the Dayton, Ohio prospect in the fold, but counting on that seems less and less likely.

Elijah Collins

If you’re looking for the most likely to commit, then Collins could be that guy. His offer was as an athlete originally, with a likely bent to the defensive side of the ball. Chryst and Co. have since switched his offer to the running back position and have intrigued the 6-0, 194-pound Detroit Jesuit product.

Having 2017 safety Scott Nelson from the same school will be a big help in this recruitment. The question is if Collins will ultimately be a running back or move elsewhere in his career should he commit. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

State of Recruiting:

The Badgers have a large stable of running backs that aren’t leaving after this season so running back has taken a bit of a backseat on the recruiting trail. One could say leading up to the 2017 class that it was becoming an issue overall for the Badgers.

However, with Bradrick Shaw, Chris James and the incoming Jonathan Taylor in the mix (not to mention the improving Sam Brodner), there hasn’t been much reason to panic just yet.

That panic button is getting close to needing to be pushed at this position for the 2018 class though. Wisconsin has reached out and went after a number of “top of the board” targets and have completely struck out. Given UW’s recent and long-term history at the position missing out on big targets is a bit surprising.

What is more troubling is the fact that UW is having trouble gaining traction with the second level of offers.

Jahmir Smith is far from a lock to become a Badger, while Collins seems to be a lean but maybe a very disappointing get considering where the Badgers were on the recruiting trail just a few months ago. Will a bigger name pop up or will Wisconsin have to “settle” for one of the easier targets on the board?

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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