National Signing Day was yesterday and the freshman of 2014 have all chosen their teams. The Badgers should be smiling about where they came out.
The Wisconsin Badgers, under the leadership of second year head coach Gary Andersen, brought home one of the best recruiting classes in program history. The Badgers are in good hands, both on the field and on the recruiting trail, for years to come. They obviously believe it — they extended Andersen’s contract through 2019 about two weeks ago.
With all of that said, this class could have been dramatically better if not for a few narrow misses. Some may call me cynical for allowing myself to think in terms of, “what if?” about this class but how could I not? — If only for today.
Listed below are some of the talented and coveted players that the Badgers swung and missed at. Both in the last couple months and on National Signing Day. We can all keep an eye on these prospects as they progress through their college careers. We will see how upset we’ll get that they’re not suiting up in cardinal and white every Saturday — if upset at all.
Time will tell.
The Ones That Got Away:
Joe Mixon: Five-Star RB from Oakley, CA. – Signed with the Oklahoma Sooners. The Badgers were in Mixon’s top three but he decided to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Adrian Peterson, and became a Sooner. If Mixon wins a Heisman Trophy (which he’ll most likely get a campaign at some point) Badgers fans everywhere will simultaneously cringe and think of what could have been. The last Five-Star RB that Bucky landed was John Clay, a product of Racine, WI.
Damien Mama: Five-Star OT from Bellflower, CA. – Chose to play his college ball with the USC Trojans. He is the undisputed No. 1 OT in the class of 2014. Madison was one of Mama’s four official visits, he did throw up the “Hand W” in at least one photograph I saw of him on the sidelines of Camp Randall. So there’s that. If there’s one player that “got away” that is almost a lock to be a first round draft pick three or four years from now it’s Mama.
Jamil Kamara: Four-Star WR from Virginia Beach, VA. – Signed with the Virginia Cavaliers, a good signing for them, as he’s one of the nation’s top WR. Wisconsin was in Kamara’s top three but he decided to stay home. Someone should have shown him Lake Michigan, it’s kind of like the Atlantic Ocean, maybe he wouldn’t have been so nervous of becoming homesick. Then again, he did say he really wanted to represent his home state at the highest (amateur) level; maybe Bucky never even stood a chance.
Craig Evans: Four-Star DT from Sun Prairie, WI. – Signed with the Michigan State Spartans. Listed as the second best player in the state of Wisconsin, it hurts to know he won’t be wearing a helmet with the “Motion-W” on it. He was once committed to Wisconsin but I wouldn’t call him a straight flip because it was academics that kept him out of Madison; regardless of what he says. Academic prestige isn’t as valued on the “Banks of the Red Cedar” (River). Such is life, Sparty on Evans.
Joe Keels: Three-Star DE from Highland, KS. – Flipped from Wisconsin to the Nebraska Cornhuskers late in his recruitment (this one hurt) but maybe he just loved the plains too much to fathom leaving the flat paradise in which he grew up around. Bucky will face Keels for the next four years, so keep an eye on that. Lets hope he never gets to taste victory in Madison – that’ll show him, right?
Cornelius Sturghill: Three-Star DB/WR from Memphis, TN. – Once considered a lock to be a Badger (as he was committed), Sturghill chose to play for the Louisville Cardinals on National Signing Day. Wisconsin was in his final two but lost out. This one shocked me, I thought he was definitely going to stay a Badger. Maybe the depth Bucky added at his prospective positions influenced his decision to flip and officially become a Cardinal.
Chris Lammons: Three-Star DB from Plantation, FL. – Lammons’ final two schools were Wisconsin and the South Carolina Gamecocks. In the end he chose to play for “The Old Ball Coach,” in Spurrier instead of Andersen. If only Stave would have slid, and not gotten hurt, and we beat South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl, Lammons would have decided to come to Madison, right? Who knows, we’ll see in a few years if we even care. It is interesting with the extensive history the Badgers have successfully recruiting Plantation High School that he didn’t choose Wisconsin. The SEC gets what the SEC wants, I suppose.
Rohan Blackwood: Three-Star DE from Brooksville, FL. – This one was a head-scratcher. Blackwood de-committed from Bucky then flipped to the South Florida Bulls of all programs. Being closer to home and having an opportunity for earlier playing time explains this flip, I guess. Even after his de-committment, that Badgers, once again, recruited phenomenally in Southern Florida as a whole. Don’t be surprised if you hear Blackwood’s name in the future though; the kid has a great combination of speed and strength.
I will make mention of Chance Stewart, who was once committed to the Badgers but flipped after Bielema left and Andersen took over. Andersen never really gave the 6-foot-6, three-star prospect a chance — or even a phone call for that matter. But Andersen knew what he was doing and got his guy in the more mobile, and much more coveted, D.J. Gillins. Stewart will play at Western Michigan, if in four years more people are talking about Stewart than Gillins, Andersen may find himself out of a job. Although, I highly doubt that scenario comes remotely close to reality.
Overall, this recruiting class, and National Signing Day, was a success. But just think of what it could have been…but only for a couple months. Once the Spring Game comes around we’ll all be too focused on our players to give any thought to the players that the Badgers didn’t sign back in February.
Honestly, the biggest “One that got away,” on NSD, was RB coach and top recruiter Thomas Hammock. He will take on the same job for the Baltimore Ravens. Congratulations Hammock, it’s well deserved, and it’s also safe to say that one of the more coveted assistant jobs in the Big Ten just opened up — RB coach at Wisconsin “Running Back U.” But it will be tough for anyone to fill Hammock’s shoes and impact out on the recruiting grind.
For a complete look at the newest Badgers, the 2014 recruiting class (with bios), follow this link!