The Wisconsin Badgers football program was expected to sign 19 players in the 2018 football recruiting class. It took just opening day of the first early signing period for all 19 players to sign on the dotted line and send those faxes in.
“Today is a special day, not only for the Wisconsin football program, but also for the young men and their families who have worked so hard for this opportunity,” head coach Paul Chryst said. “I want to congratulate all of them and welcome them into the Badger family.
“It’s been extremely rewarding to get to know all of our signees and their families throughout this process. What I’ve been most impressed with is how well they fit with one another, within our football program and with the University of Wisconsin. We obviously feel they can add value to our team on the field, but just as important is how their personalities, character and work ethic fit this university and our football program.”
Headlining the class is the lone 247Sports composite 4-star player to commit to the Badgers in this class — inside linebacker Jack Sanborn. The Deer Park, Ill. (Lake Zurich) product was an early commit to the Badgers back in March of 2017. He is ranked as the No. 17 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 4 player in the state of Illinois.
But, the Badgers focused on adding a lot of speed and length in this class, especially at the skill positions.
Wisconsin signed four wide receivers in this class, adding a pair of teammates from West Bloomfield, Mich. in A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha as well as New York prospect Aron Cruickshank and Indiana speedster Isaac Guerendo.
The state of Michigan was also a big headline, as Wisconsin signed five players from the state for the first time in a single class ever. While none were from the powerhouse of Detroit Cass Tech, the Badgers found a niche in the state and planting the ‘W’ in the state could lead to bigger things down the road.
In addition to the pair of receivers from West Bloomfield, the Badgers got their lone offensive lineman in this class from Michigan as well. UW added 3-star tackle Michael Furtney out of Milan, Mich. He is rated as the No. 60 offensive tackle in the country, but at 6-5 and 280 pounds has the frame to add to his size and build behind a loaded offensive tackle group right now.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect from the so-called “Michigan 5” is on the other side of the ball — safety Reggie Pearson.
The 5-10, 180 defensive back has the range and ability to play safety at the next level quickly.
Finally, athlete and likely flex-tight end, Jaylan Franklin was added to mix. He played quarterback and linebacker at the high school level, but his athleticism and size make him a prime target for the Badgers tight end group.
Wisconsin singed one of its lowest number of in-state scholarship players in recent memory, adding just four players from the Badger state in this class. However, it was considered a down year in terms of scholarship prospects from Wisconsin.
Leading the in-state contingent is Boyd Dietzen out of powerhouse Kimberly. He is joined by fellow defensive line prospect Cormac Sampson. Both were 3-star prospects, with Dietzen rated as the No. 23 strong-side defensive end in the country and Sampson as the No. 38 weak-side defensive end in the country.
The duo was also the No. 1 and 2 ranked players in the state of Wisconsin.
Along with Dietzen and Sampson, the Badgers also loaded up on out-of-state defensive linemen. They picked up signatures from right in the back yard of two Big Ten rivals. Signatures came from 3-star products Isaiah Mullens (Columbus, Ohio) and defensive tackle Bryson Williams (Lincoln, Neb.).
However, the most intriguing and needed position in this class came at cornerback, and the Badgers added a pair of potentially great prospects to the mix. Look for Humble, Texas native Travian Blaylock and Georgia product Donte Burton to get a chance to contribute early.
The pair both rank as top 60 cornerbacks in the country.
UW also added California native Alexander Smith to the mix at cornerback.
With the Badgers losing three of its biggest contributors on the defensive line to graduation and potentially three-quarters of its starting secondary too, it was no surprise to see them load up on these groups.
One position everyone watches was lower on the Badgers radar this season as they added 3-star quarterback Chase Wolf to the mix. He was rated as one of the lower prospects on UW’s list, coming in as the No. 35 ranked pro-style quarterback and No. 963 ranked player in the country.
But, the scholarship players weren’t the only ones in the mix. In total the Badgers added 26 players in this class, as they also announced six preferred walk-on’s to the class as well.
Those walk-on’s are quarterback Nate Carter (Waunakee, Wis.), inside linebacker John Chenal (Grantsburg, Wis.), tight end Jack Eschenbach (Downers Grove, Ill.), athlete Mike Gregoire (Green Bay, Wis.), offensive tackle Andrew Lyons (Kenohsa, Wis.), running back Brady Schipper (Stoughton, Wis.) and outside linebacker Marty Strey (Sun Prairie, Wis.).
*all rankings courtesy of the 247Sports composite.