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July 11, 2014

Badger Watch 2: Cornerbacks





With summer camp complete and more commitments in place, Wisconsin has a better idea of what its 2015 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 2015 cycle.

Today, we reexamine the cornerbacks. | QUARTERBACKS | RUNNING BACKS | TIGHT ENDS | WIDE RECEIVERS | OFFENSIVE LINEMEN | DEFENSIVE LINE | LINEBACKERS | SAFETIES |

1. Last update: Badger Watch: Cornerbacks (5/3/14)

2. What's happened since April?

Wisconsin, led by defensive backs coach Bill Busch, hit on two cornerbacks from South Oak Cliff High School in Texas. In early June, teammates Takadrae Williams and Xzavien Ausborne committed to the Badgers just hours apart from each other.

"From day one, it was all coach Busch," Emmett Jones, the head coach at South Oak Cliff, told BadgerBlitz.com. "They were consistent in pursuing them (Williams and Ausborne) and our kids have a great relationship with him and they really just hit it off right away -- an instant connection. We're going to try and get them out to Wisconsin to visit this summer."

Both prospects have a track background, something that appealed to the staff in their search for speed.

"Long, rangy, talented track athlete who comes from a long line of talented athletes," Jones said of Williams. "Still kind of growing and learning the cornerback position, but he's a totally different player from last season up until now. He's also a guy who's going to go in there and compete. Those long cornerbacks at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, they give offensive coordinators some problems.

"Takadrae is a talented guy and a great kid. Great attitude and great character. He (Busch) said he really liked how he can flip his hips at that size."

Added Ausborne, who had a track scholarship from Ole Miss: "I made a very good connection with coach Busch, he seemed like he really wanted me to come there. He's been talking a lot to me and our people at school so they make sure I can get qualified to go there. We have a good connection.

"He likes that I'm fast and explosive and thinks I can make an impact at corner. It's good to get everything wrapped up. I'm just excited for the chance to go to college."

Prior to the two commitments, Wisconsin also targeted Isaac James, who is a big prospect for the staff moving forward. The two-star athlete from Indiana is being recruited by offensive line coach T.J. Woods.

"Our relationship is pretty good," James told BadgerBlitz.com. "We talk just about every other day and we stay in touch. He keeps trying to get me on campus. He's real honest with me and tells me that Wisconsin isn't a team that just throws offers out there. So I'm lucky to be one of those players who received one.

"My interest is pretty high. It's a great combination of athletics and academics. Being from Minnesota, it's also not too far away from where I'm from."

In mid-June, Wisconsin also received a visit from four-star cornerback Duke Shelley, who participated in UW's elite camp.

"It was a nice trip and a real nice visit," Shelley told BadgerBlitz.com. "It was good to see things in person instead of just hearing and reading about it. I got a chance to go in the coaches' room and learn about the defense. I learned some stuff and got to have some one-on-ones with members of the staff.

"It's a great school with a great environment and I loved the city. It's not too big and it's not too small, so it had a lot of advantages."

Since the last update, Isaiah Langley (USC), Shaun Crawford (Notre Dame), Octavis Johnson (South Carolina), P.J. Mbanasor (Oklahoma), Kareem Ali Jr (Maryland), Damon Arnette (South Carolina), Maurice Smitherman (Mississippi State), Jihree Stewart (Oregon), Roosevelt Lawrence (Marshall), Jordan Tolbert (Baylor), Javarius Davis (North Carolina) and Jeff Smith (Boston College) committed to other schools while holding an offer from Wisconsin.

3. What happens next?

When looking back at the 2014 cycle, Wisconsin is in a much better position with two commitments at cornerback and the entire fall to focus on filling the one -- possibly two -- remaining spot.

James, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, has emerged as one of UW's top remaining targets, but Wisconsin is sitting well with a number corners, particularly from the state of Florida.

Ronnie Hoggins, Marcus Holton, Chris Barr, Khalid McGee, Tobias Moss, Meiko Dotson, Terry Howard and Benjamin Bascom, among others, all hold scholarship offers, though Hoggins and Holton probably grade out higher in the eyes of the staff.

Outside of Florida, the Badgers are also in a good position to land T.J. Griffin, Nhyre Quinerly and Chuck Davis, should room be available.

As stated above, the staff won't be scrambling for corners just weeks before signing day as was the case in 2014. They can be very selective at the position moving forward and could likely land of a handful of the players they are in the mix for.

4. Class Prediction:

Wisconsin will not graduate a scholarship cornerback this fall, so three in this class sounds realistic. Williams and Ausborne already hold two spots and I think Wisconsin will be able to land James, but it might not be until this fall after an official visit. Should they miss on James, the next tier appears to be Hoggins, Griffin and Holton.



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