The ink isn’t even ready on the fax machine for national signing day to finish up the 2018 class, but already the Wisconsin Badgers 2019 recruiting class is off to a flying start.
On Monday morning that class grew by one, as 4-star tight end Hayden Rucci gave his verbal pledge to the Badgers.
New Chapter… 🔴⚪️👐🏼 pic.twitter.com/FAqhmNcq59
— Hayden Rucci (@haydengucci) February 5, 2018
Rucci is the No. 11 ranked tight end in the country and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Pennsylvania. He’s also fourth 4-star player in the 2019 class to give a verbal commitment to the Badgers.
He also chose the Badger over offers from the likes of Michigan State, Duke, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Boston College, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana and others.
At 6-5, 225 pounds before he even enters the second half of his junior year, Rucci is in a good position to grow in to his frame and continue to show the pass-catching skills that are on display in his highlight film. Most importantly, he shows an ability to get in the trenches and block as well.
Perhaps my favorite highlight comes at about the one-minute mark here, as Rucci goes out to block on a run play and drives some poor linebacker about 20 yards down field before pancaking him for good measure.
If ever there was a high-skilled tight end that fit what Wisconsin likes to do at the position, Rucci is exactly that fit. His combination of blocking and being able to split out make him a dangerous prospect at the next level. It doesn’t hurt that he is a more finished prospect already than anyone not named Kyle Penniston was coming out of high school.
Rucci’s commitment isn’t just big for the position, it continues a start to the 2019 class that could see the Badgers one of the big players on the national recruiting scene. As we speak, Wisconsin has eight commitments in the class and half of them are 4-star players. Currently Wisconsin has the No. 1 ranked class in the Big Ten and the No. 3 ranked class in the country.
That’s what happens when you identify guys that are high priority targets early on in the process and have their verbal commitments early on as well.
Wisconsin’s eight commitments also has a larger effect on the recruiting processes of other players UW is targeting. While eight players doesn’t seem like a lot, by out count, the Badgers only have spots available for 14-16 players at the most. As the roster stands today, Wisconsin would have 79 of the 85 allowed scholarship players in the fold (including the 8 commits for 2019).
It means, the timelines for players who really want to be a Badger could be moving up. Additionally, it means the Badgers have a bigger luxury to lock in on top targets and really find out where they stand. Getting many of their top targets to commit this early is new territory for the Badgers, but it could be the cushion they need to really lock down a top class that could change things in a big way in Madison.
The excitement over this class is understandable and Rucci’s addition shows that the momentum is real for the Badgers. However, we’ve got nearly 11 months to go before the first signing day for this class and that means a lot of work still needs to be done to keep this group together.