Saturday was a recruiting day for the books for the Wisconsin Badgers and their football program. After the dust settled and one was able to step back and look at the significance of the situation, Wisconsin has taken a huge step forward this Father’s Day weekend on the recruiting trail.
Two four-star recruits committed to the University of Wisconsin within hours of each other Saturday. The morning started off with offensive tackle Cole Van Lanen of Green Bay (Bay Port) committing, becoming the highest-rated recruit for the Badgers in the 2016 class according to 247Sports.com. Van Lanen had offers from other prominent Big Ten schools including Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa among others. According to the 247Sports rankings, Van Lanen is a top 20 offensive tackle recruit and the second-best overall in the state of Wisconsin.
But the fun didn’t stop there. Hours later, safety Craig Watts St. Petersburg, FL (Admiral Farragut Academy) gave his verbal committment to play for the Badgers. Watts is ranked 16th at the safety position, 41st overall recruit from the state of Florida and is Wisconsin’s first ever four-star recruit from that state. Watts was in the middle of a four-day visit to Madison and had a slew of offers from schools around the country. He chose the Badgers over the likes Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State just to name a few.
After these two players committed, Wisconsin’s overall recruiting rankings for the class of 2016 shot up the charts. The Badgers went from being in the mix around 50, to now flirting with the top 25 as they sit at 26 overall.
And to think people were growing concerned over Paul Chryst and company about their lack of recruiting this year.
At 6’5” and 275 pounds, Van Lanen is a big guy that will be an anchor on what has proven to be year in and year out one of the best offensive lines in the country. He’s a first-team All-State player, a champion shot put and discus thrower and will be playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game as well.
Watts will most likely play strong safety when he gets to campus in 2016, which will be nice since the Badgers will be losing their fair share of players in the secondary due to graduation after this season. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was the lead recruiter, and Watts had high praise for his future coach.
"He wants me to play strong safety, come in the spring, and start early. He’s a great coach. I have a lot of trust in him."
After the wild weekend and the crazy past few weeks, Wisconsin has more than helped themselves out to get to the next level of college football. The Badgers currently have 12 commitments on the board, including three four-star players. The future of Wisconsin Badgers football is shaping up very nicely as Chryst is compiling what looks to be one of the best classes this program has seen in some time.
More from Badger of Honor
- Wisconsin Football flips 3-star defensive tackle from Northwestern
- Former Wisconsin Football stars to be featured on the next Wheaties box
- Believe it or not, Wisconsin Football has never played these FBS teams
- Four-star running back Darrion Dupree commits to Wisconsin Football
- Wisconsin Football wide receiver enters the transfer portal