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December 22, 2013

Badger Watch 3: Defensive line





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 defensive line.



1. Last update: Badger Watch: Defensive line (7/11/13)

2. What's happened since July?

In a bit of a surprise, Wisconsin missed out on four-star Connor Humphreys, who ended up committing to Arizona State. Other targets such as Armon Watts (Arkansas) and Kurt Holuba (Princeton) also elected to play their college ball elsewhere.

One of the biggest stories so far in this class has been that of Joe Keels, the fast-rising JUCO defensive end. Keels is a cousin of UW running back Melvin Gordon and graduated from Kenosha Bradford High School. So when Wisconsin offered early in the fall, it only made sense for the 6-foot-4, 280-pound prospect to jump on the opportunity.

However, more and more offers started coming in for Keels, and his commitment began to waver. Eventually, he flipped his pledge to Nebraska, though sources indicated the Badgers were no longer recruiting Keels, leading to rumors of possible academic issues.

Regardless, Keels is no longer a Badger and the staff feels the young talent on the current roster is solid moving forward.

One player that is firmly committed to Wisconsin is defensive tackle Jeremy Patterson. Patterson is close friends and teammates with wide receiver Krenwick Sanders, and the pair took an official visit to Wisconsin together in early September.

The Badgers beat out tough competition for the three-star prospect who had offers from Clemson, Florida and Florida State, among others. Look for Patterson, 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, to start out at nose tackle when he steps on campus.

"He'll (Patterson) be one of the strongest kids they got when he gets there," Wayne County High School coach Jody Grooms told BadgerBlitz.com. "He power cleans 415 pounds, he benches about 400 pounds - he's phenomenally strong and phenomenally quick. He's a good athlete who plays basketball here.

"He's a kid who they can coach up to get better and better. He has long arms and he's able to control gaps and keep people off the linebackers so those guys can make plays."

3. What happens next?

Craig Evans will now go into his Jan. 4 announcement with Wisconsin and Michigan State hats on the table. He took his official visit to East Lansing earlier this month, and feels he has seen what he needs to make a final decision.

"I think this cleared the air for me and made my decision a lot easier," Evans told Rivals.com. "Now I just know what I have to do - leave it up to God and talk some things over with him.

"I could actually make a decision right now, but I am going to stay true to my word and make it when I go down to this game. I am going to talk it over with God a little more just to be 100 percent positive, but I think I am pretty confident where I want to be."

The staff is also actively recruiting three-star Uriah Leiataua, who took his official visit to Wisconsin this fall. The Compton (CA) Dominguez is also considering BYU and Stanford, among others.

4. Class Prediction:

The four-man class the Badgers currently have of Patterson, Evans, Conor Sheehy and Billy Hirschfeld is very strong. The addition of Keels would have made it excellent, but there is a lot to like about the talent coming to Wisconsin next season. Unless Evans flips, and it looks unlikely, these will be the four defensive linemen joining Wisconsin next season.



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