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February 5, 2013
NSD: The one(s) who got away
With Signing Day just around the corner, BadgerBlitz.com thought it would be fitting to take look back at a few prospects "who got away" throughout the course of an exciting recruiting cycle.
The following is a list of the top five prospects who strongly considered the University of Wisconsin but decided to go in a different direction.
1.) Darius Latham - Wisconsin landed a huge commitment from Latham, a four-star defensive lineman, in early July only to watch the Indiana native decommit in mid-October.
"Wisconsin has a strong reputation and they just have a real good way of developing players at my position," Latham told Rivals.com after his initial commitment. "Wisconsin is just the best opportunity for me. They see me right now as a J.J. Watt. He played everywhere on the defensive line and I have the ability to do that.
"I'm done. I don't see the point of [visiting] anywhere else."
In the end, the 6-foot-5, 291-pound prospect elected to stay close to home and play for the Hoosiers. Latham accumulated offers from Auburn, Tennessee, Michigan, Notre Dame and Florida, among others, throughout the recruiting process.
At the time of his commitment, Badger fans were giddy about a potential 2013 defensive line class that included Latham and in-state standouts Alec James and Chikwe Obasih. Instead, they'll get two of the three with tackle Sam Raridon also in the mix.
2.) Tyler Foreman - Foreman's pledge to Wisconsin was a pleasant surprise for the staff when the California native committed in November.
But the honeymoon was short lived as Foreman, a four-star prospect, decommitted in favor of UCLA. A big reason why was the coaching change at UW, mainly the departure of Andy Buh, who served as Foreman's primary recruiting contact for the Badgers.
Wisconsin has continued to search for safeties to complete the 2013 class. Matt Hubley, Marcus Ball and Keelon Brookins (already enrolled in classes at UW) are set to sign Wednesday, but the staff is still working on a commitment from junior college safety Donnell Vercher in the hours leading up to Signing Day. Duron Singleton also remains a late option at the position.
3.) Kevin Olsen - Quarterback Tanner McEvoy was a huge get for Wisconsin two days before Signing Day. But looking back at the recruiting cycle, the Badgers almost landed one of the top signal callers in the country.
Back in May, Olsen, a four-star prospect, was still considering four schools: Miami, Auburn, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Olsen visited UW unofficially before he committed to Miami and many believed UW finished second in the race for the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the nation.
"A week or so ago I had a good idea (he'd be a Cane), and a couple of days ago I knew 100 percent and I told my parents last night that I'm going to call coach Golden," Olsen said after his commitment.
Again, adding McEvoy was huge for first year coach Gary Andersen and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, but Olsen was a realistic target for Wisconsin earlier in the process.
4.) A.J. Natter - Losing Natter, an in-state prospect from Milton who had an offer from UW early in the process, was a legitimate blow for Wisconsin in this class.
Nebraska jumped on him early an earned a commitment from Natter in mid-April.
"I came in with a very good feeling about Nebraska, but I did not have it set in stone that I was going to commit," the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Natter told Rivals.com. "I wanted to get another good feeling about it and then I talked to my parents about it Friday night and it ended up being that I wanted to be here. They supported me 100 percent, so we were ready."
Natter will likely begin at defensive end but could bump over to tackle or even tight end if necessary. As mentioned, the Badgers will sign in-state ends Obasih and James, but losing Natter to a conference foe was a difficult blow.
Natter's commitment brought into question just how strong the fence surrounding in-state prospects was moving forward on the recruiting front.
5.) Tiquention Coleman - Bret Bielema was a big reason why Coleman, a junior college safety from Georgia Military College, committed to the Badgers last November.
"What put Wisconsin over the top was that all the other schools that were recruiting me we're telling me they need players like me on the team; they need someone with leadership, experience and all that," Coleman told BadgerBlitz.com. "They never said that they wanted me there, But Wisconsin, mainly coach Bielema, said it was me that he wanted to come in and compete for a starting spot."
So it wasn't a huge surprise when Coleman, who ended up being Bielema's first commitment at Arkansas, elected to follow the head coach to the SEC.
"I really wanted to play for coach Bielema," Coleman told Rivals.com in December. "That's the reason I committed to Wisconsin in the first place. He wanted to bring me to Arkansas and show me that everything is still set for me the same way it was at Wisconsin."
The Badgers are still searching for immediate help at safety with the graduation of Shelton Johnson.
Others considered: Scott Orndoff, R.J. Shelton, Alex Collins and Jalen Banks, among others.