Gio Paez- Cornelius, NC (William Amos Hough)
Keeanu Benton- Janesville, WI (Craig)
Other current targets
Rodas Johnson- Columbus, OH (St. Francis De Sales)
Taurean Carter- Mansfield, TX (Legacy)
Simote Pepa- South Jordan, UT (Bingham)
As with the offensive line, the Wisconsin staff likely feels pretty good about the state of the defensive line in the class. The Badgers have commitments from 3-star defensive tackles Gio Paez and Keeanu Benton, both of whom are promising, versatile prospects.
Paez was a nice recruiting coup for Wisconsin, who pulled him away from schools such as NC State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Kentucky. As Tanner wrote in his piece on Paez’s commitment, he’s got great size already at 6’3 and 285 pounds and has excellent pass-rushing skills in the trenches. It’s possible he could pack on more weight and play nose tackle, but at this point, he appears to be an excellent candidate to play end in Jim Leonhard’s 3-4 defense.
Benton is also an intriguing prospect that fans should keep an eye on when he arrives on campus. Like Paez, he has excellent size at 6’4 and 290 pounds, with the versatility to play nose tackle or defensive end. Benton’s potential is particularly promising considering his background as an elite wrestler. He took second place in the state championships in February, and the type of agility needed to excel on the wrestling mat should prove very advantageous for him as he continues to develop on the gridiron.
Look for Wisconsin to keep trying to add another commitment on the line. The best bet is 4-star tackle Rodas Johnson, but Texas and Penn State are probably the two biggest threats to Wisconsin for his pledge, and he has upcoming official visits to both schools. I’m particularly worried about his visit to Happy Valley this weekend for the Ohio State showdown, as that is going to be an incredible gameday experience for him to say the least.
Defensive end Taurean Carter and tackle Simote Pepa are two other offered prospects Wisconsin may really start turning up the heat on. Carter has not lined up a visit to Madison yet, but Pepa looks to be working on setting one up.