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May 22, 2013

Badger Watch: Defensive linemen

With spring football over, recruiting takes center stage for Wisconsin's coaching staff. Over the next two weeks, BadgerBlitz.com will analyze UW's recruiting efforts with a position-by-position breakdown of targets to see how the Badgers will fill their 2014 recruiting class.

Today, we continue our series with a look at the defensive line.

1. How many will Wisconsin take?

The Badgers need at least one, maybe two, nose tackles, and two to three defensive ends. Graduation will hit the defensive line hard with Beau Allen, Pat Muldoon and Ethan Hemer -- all projected starters at this point -- entering their final season.

2. Who has Wisconsin landed so far?

Wisconsin has secured verbal commitments from its top three in-state defensive line recruits: ends Conor Sheehy (Marquette University) and Billy Hirschfeld (Arrowhead), along with tackle Craig Evans (Sun Prairie), who was recently ranked as the No. 190 player in the country, according to the updated Rivals250.

3. Who's off the board?

The only player Wisconsin offered before he committed elsewhere was Bryan Mone, who pledged to Michigan. The staff has also offered two Pac-12 commits, Tashon Smallwood (USC) and Allan Havili (Utah).

4. Which recruits does Wisconsin have the best shot at landing?

There are actually quite a few players Wisconsin has offered who they sit well with. They are in the top two for Jarvis Polu, and likely in Tyler Powell's top group. Uriah Leiataua, a defensive end from California, also has the Badgers in his top group along with Colorado and Utah. Look for at least two of the three to visit Madison this summer or fall. And keep a close eye on Powell, 6-foot-4, 252 pounds, who has seen his recruitment pick up steam this summer.

5. Any long shots out there?

I wouldn't call them favorites, but the Badgers are also right in the mix for Connor Humphreys, who is planning a visit to Madison this summer. Look for them to be strongly involved with newly offered ends Rick Leonard, Joe Henderson and Tyree Owens as well.

Also keep an eye on defensive tackle Ainuu Taua, who has an official visit already scheduled to Wisconsin. The four-star prospect is being recruited by defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a.

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