Paul Chryst put together a ridiculously impressive 2021 class for the Wisconsin football team. The group ranked 16th in the nation, which was up ten spots from the previous season and 3rd in the Big Ten. So there is ample reason for fans to be optimistic about the future of an already consistent program.
Today I review a few members of the 2021 class that I think will play a vital role for Wisconsin in the near future and become pillars of the Badger’s program moving forward.
Top Player: Nolan Rucci
Not exactly going out on a limb having the highest-ranked player in the class predicted to have the best career, but Nolan Rucci has all the makings of a generational talent. Rucci is an absolute athletic specimen at the tackle position with a limitless ceiling. I think Rucci will be a multi-year, all-conference starter for the Badgers before he ultimately ends up in the NFL. Even with the prodigious amount of depth the badgers have accrued on the offensive line, I think Rucci will stand above the rest and be an anchor on an already talented o-line.
Sure Thing: Hunter Wohler
Hunter Wohler is one of the best defensive back recruits to come out of Wisconsin in recent memory. Not to mention he was a massive recruiting win over the likes of Ohio State. His athleticism and ball skills coupled with his ability to get downhill and make plays will get him onto the field sooner rather than later. He’s another player I think ends up a multi-year starter in this program, and a leader of the defense. He’s basically a dream fit in this system, and someone you’d have to imagine Jim Leonhard sees a lot of himself in.
Wohler is already polished and yet still has an immense amount of unrealized potential. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Wohler doesn’t become an impact player for the Wisconsin football program. The Muskego product is going to be an easy kid to pull for.
Under the Radar: Jake Ratzlaff
Jake Ratzlaff was recruited as a linebacker without a set home. Not to mention he will be prioritizing the game of football for the first time in his life. Ratzlaff is a natural athlete that will begin his career at inside linebacker, a position I think he’s best suited for. With some time to develop in this system, he’s someone I think will fly up the depth chart and become a play-maker in the middle for this defense. He is a wrecking ball in pursuit and possesses that quick twitch as a pass rusher that can put his production over the top. I see him as a potential game-changer in the heart of this defense and a player that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Most Versatile: Braelon Allen
Braelon Allen can be whatever he wants to be while donning the cardinal and white. He will begin his career as a running-back, which surprised some, although he did average over 14 yards per carry in high school. Allen reclassified to the 2021 class and came to the Wisconsin football team a year early, which you’d never guess if you watched him in the weight room. Allen has the desire to be great, the god-given ability, and work ethic to become a focal point of the program no matter what side of the ball he ends up playing long term.
He could play safety, linebacker, or remain at tailback and nothing will surprise me. It’s a safe bet that both sides of the ball will be fighting for Braelon Allen’s services, but what we do know is Allen is a dynamic athlete capable of moving around to help this team in whatever capacity is needed. Wisconsinites are already very familiar with Braelon Allen, and will arguably be watched closer than any of any incoming recruits from this class. The uncertainty surrounding Allen isn’t whether or not he’ll be an asset to the program, it’s what side of the ball he’ll be doing it from. Allen is a remarkable football player, and it’ll be a lot of fun watching his Wisconsin football career unfold.