There were several recruiting targets on hand to take in Wisconsin Football’s blowout win over Michigan Saturday. Two of them have since committed.
What a weekend for this Wisconsin football program.
First, the Badgers made a major statement to the rest of the Big Ten and college football world on Saturday afternoon, waxing the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines by a 35-14 margin that really isn’t even indicative of just how lopsided an affair this was.
Additionally, there was a long list of recruiting targets on hand to take it all in who left town extremely impressed by what they saw.
Two of those prospects, 2020 linebacker Preston Zachman and 2021 offensive tackle Riley Mahlman, announced their commitments to Wisconsin before the weekend was over. Now that they are in the fold, what exactly are the Badgers getting in each of these recruits?
Preston Zachman – Outside Linebacker
Hometown: Catawissa, PA
Rankings: 3-star (No. 126 OLB, No. 1833 overall)
Other offers: Air Force, Albany, Army, Colgate, Cornell, Fordham, Holy Cross, Kent State, Lehigh, New Hampshire, Robert Morris, Temple, Virginia Military Institute, and Youngstown State
Wisconsin’s 2020 class grew to 17 members on Saturday afternoon with Zachman’s commitment following the game.
The Badgers have been in contact with the linebacker out of Pennsylvania for months now, but only just decided to extend him his first Power 5 offer earlier in September. Zachman wasted little time jumping on the opportunity and became the third pickup of the month in this class already for Paul Chryst and company, following defensive end James Thompson and wide receiver Isaac Smith.
While a small minority of the fan base might be quick to criticize the staff for offering Zachman after taking a look at his modest offer list and recruiting rankings, they should know by now to trust the coaches’ evaluation process and proven track record of identifying diamond in the rough-type prospects flying under the radar. It’s also important to note that Zachman had been receiving interest from programs such as Northwestern, Ohio State, and Penn State prior to his pledge, and had he chosen to play out his senior season, there were likely more Power 5 offers coming his way.
Take one look at his athletic measurables and it becomes abundantly clear why those big-time programs were interested in Zachman, and why the Badgers wanted him in this class. The 6’2, 205-pounder opened a lot of eyes with the ridiculous numbers he put up at one of the regional “The Opening” combines, recording a 4.56 40-yard dash, 4.46 shuttle, 35.7-inch vertical, and 16’5” broad jump. With that kind of athleticism, there’s no question Zachman is a Big Ten-caliber prospect. How more Power 5 offers did not flow in after that performance is beyond me.
While those physical traits are obviously exciting (especially at a position Wisconsin develops as well as linebacker), the biggest reason I’m confident Zachman will succeed in Madison is his blue-collar playing style and passion for this program and what it is all about. According to 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong on the Notorious B1G recruiting podcast, Zachman wanted to be a Badger so badly that he was apparently considering walking on at Wisconsin if a scholarship offer never came. These are exactly the type of players who tend to find a great deal of success here, and many of them don’t possess the type of athleticism this kid has.
The future is bright for Zachman in Madison.
Riley Mahlman – Offensive Tackle
Hometown: Lakeville, MN
Rankings: 4-star (No. 27 OT, No. 211 overall)
Other offers: Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Ohio State
The future looks to be pretty bright for Wisconsin’s latest class of 2021 commit, Mahlman, as well.
The 6’7, 270-pound tackle announced his pledge to the Badgers Sunday after suppressing the urge to commit on Saturday after the game, instead choosing to take a night to think things over. As we have seen many times before, the Wisconsin staff’s top-notch evaluation skills, especially early in the recruiting process, paid huge dividends in the case of Mahlman: the Badgers were among the very first programs to get involved with Mahlman way back in October of last year, long before his recruitment blew up and offers from the likes of Ohio State came in.
Mahlman is the fifth addition to a 2021 recruiting class that is already shaping up to be another fantastic group for Paul Chryst and company. At the moment, he and fellow 4-star offensive tackle JP Benzschawel are the crown jewels of the class, and with those two in the fold to go along with the many other outstanding linemen the Badgers have been bringing in over the last few recruiting cycles, it’s safe to say Wisconsin will continue to get elite play on the line for years to come.
As you would expect in the case of a player with Mahlman’s 4-star status, Badger fans should be very excited about the Minnesota native’s future in Madison.
Mahlman all of the traits you want to see in a prototypical offensive tackle: he has a massive frame that should easily pack on a ton of weight once he enters the program to go along with exceptional footwork, agility, body coordination, and explosiveness that is evident on tape. Mahlman has honed those skills while playing basketball at an elite level: in fact, he was AAU teammates on D1 Minnesota with Wisconsin Basketball’s latest 2020 commit, Ben Carlson. As we have said in the past, the skills learned on the basketball court translate extremely well to success on the football field, especially on the offensive line.
Mahlman still has a lot to learn in terms of the more technical aspects of the game, but you know he’s going to receive as good of coaching as there is in the country there from this Wisconsin staff. With a few years to develop in the program and with the physical traits he possesses, he has massive potential as a Badger and should have a chance to join the ranks of former Wisconsin linemen in the NFL. In fact, based on what he has seen from Mahlman throughout his high school career, Allen Trieu of 247Sports already projects him as a potential 4-7 round draft choice down the road.
Big-time pickup for the Badgers here.
Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports