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December 18, 2013

Badger Watch 3: Running backs





With the regular season over and just a few weeks left before Signing Day, Wisconsin has a better idea of what its 2014 recruiting class will look like. Over the next two weeks, BadgerBlitz.com will reanalyze UW's recruiting efforts with a position-by-position breakdown of targets to see how the Badgers will fill their 2014 class.

Today, we provide a final look at the running backs.



1. Last update: Badger Watch: Running backs (7/7/13)

2. What's happened since July?

In a bit of a surprise, Qadree Ollison committed to Pittsburgh and one-time Badger target L.J. Scott committed to Louisville, although he was not a take for the Wisconsin staff at the time of his commitment.

It appeared the Badgers were firmly in the mix to receive a commitment from three-star Niles, Ill., running back Chris James, but instead Thomas Hammock moved quickly on one-time Georgia Tech commitment Caleb Kinlaw. Kinlaw visited Wisconsin in early November and committed less than a week after.

"Caleb is 190 pounds and is a very strong guy for his size," Kinlaw's head coach, Chuck Reedy, told BadgerBlitz.com. "He has excellent speed as well and can make people miss.

"He's also an excellent receiver who's going to get a lot bigger. He'll be a 210-, 2015-pound running back for Wisconsin. And he's a true tailback, which is why I think Wisconsin appealed to him so much."

The three-star Goose Creek, S.C., native should be a shiftier compliment to powerhouse back Taiwan Deal, who recently earned his fourth star from Rivals.com.

"Taiwan Deal is a big back that will pound the ball between the tackles and wear down a defense," recruiting analyst Adam Friedman wrote. "While there is some concern about a little bad weight, it doesn't seem to have an effect on Deal's speed and quickness. The best thing about Deal is the aggressiveness with which he runs. He is a very physical ball carrier and will fit in well at Wisconsin."

3. What happens next?

The Badgers are right in the mix for five-star Joe Mixon, out of Oakley, Calif. In addition to Wisconsin, Mixon's top four right now is comprised of Oklahoma, Cal, and UCLA, and it's really anyone's guess right now where he ends up.

Mixon's top group is very fluid, and any of the four teams could realistically be in the lead right now. He plans on making his decision public at the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4.

4. Class Prediction:

While it is possible he chooses Wisconsin, the likelier scenario right now is that Mixon opts to either stay closer to home or go to Oklahoma. Mixon is a top target of the staff's and that would be a blow to the class, but Deal and Kinlaw are both excellent recruits in their own right and should inject even more talent into an impressive stable of running backs at Wisconsin.



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