Wisconsin Football picked up a commitment from sleeper defensive end James Thompson Monday morning. What are the Badgers getting in the 3-star from Ohio?
Off to one of the best starts in recent memory after two consecutive lights-out performances, Wisconsin is also finding plenty of success on the recruiting trail lately.
After taking an official visit to campus over the weekend and watching the Badgers crush Central Michigan, Roger Bacon (Cincinnati, OH) defensive end James Thompson announced today that he will be joining Wisconsin’s 2020 class. Ranked by the 247Sports composite as the nation’s No. 103 strong-side defensive end and No. 1878 overall player, the 3-star prospect chose the Badgers over other offers from Iowa State, Akron, Ball State, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, Navy, and The Citadel.
However, that offer list was likely to become much more formidable soon, and it still may as schools consider trying to flip the late-blooming defensive end from his pledge to Wisconsin. For example, Thompson had reported interest coming in from programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Tennessee recently.
Thompson’s commitment serves as yet another example of Wisconsin reaping the rewards of this staff’s exceptional eye for under-the-radar talent.
A classic late bloomer as a prospect from a physical standpoint who also missed much of his junior season due to injury, Thompson’s recruitment is only now beginning to get going in earnest now that college coaches are taking notice of the exciting potential he is putting on tape as a senior. However, the Wisconsin staff once again unearthed a diamond in the rough far sooner than their peers, offering the 6’5, 255-pounder his first Power 5 scholarship back in July.
While Thompson is definitely raw as a prospect and likely won’t make an impact in Madison until he’s had a few years of seasoning in the program, I can see why the staff is so high on him. Wisconsin has made an effort over the last few recruiting cycles to add length on the edges of its 3-4 defense at defensive end, and he certainly fits that mold. The thought of the 6’5 Thompson lined up across from fellow 2020 commit Cade McDonald (6’7) down the line is certainly something for Badger fans to be excited about.
While Thompson will have his work cut out for him in the weight room to fill out that frame, that’s hardly a concern: as I’ve said before, the Badgers have an outstanding strength and conditioning program and a long track record of successfully developing the bodies of their players, especially in the trenches. Strength and mass can be added, but he possesses length, athleticism, and agility that can’t exactly be taught, especially for a kid his size. Thompson may not see immediate snaps, but there’s a lot of potential here long-term with his traits.
The Badgers are now up to 15 commitments in the class of 2020, though that number could grow to 16 very soon. Two of the class of 2020 “bat signals” went out last night on Twitter from members of Wisconsin’s recruiting staff, and while Thompson’s commitment likely explains one of them, that leaves another pledge likely to be announced soon.