football Edit

Countdown to Kickoff: Ranking the 2019 in-state class (1-6)

With high school football set to begin in Wisconsin on Thursday evening, BadgerBlitz.com ranked the top 25 in-state prospects in the 2019 class.

Rankings are based on film, in-person evaluations and feedback from coaches and players.

19-25 | 13-18 | 7-12 |

No. 6 Lineman Austin Ertl

Committed to: Miami (OH)

The word: A two-way standout for Wauwatosa West who earned WFCA all-state honors on both offense and defense in 2017, Austin Ertl had no less than 13 scholarship offers before he committed to Miami of Ohio this summer. Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin, among others, were also showing strong interest in Ertl, who had 35 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last fall.

No. 5 Defensive end Jake Karchinski 

Committed to: Iowa

The word: Jake Karchinski, who had 61 tackles and 18 stops for loss as a junior, is probably someone the Wisconsin staff wanted to see at camp last June. But a few weeks prior, the three-star prospect jumped an offer from Iowa.

No. 4 Defensive tackle Keeanu Benton

Committed to: Wisconsin

The word: Prior to this spring, Keeanu Benton was a lightly-recruited prospect from Janesville Craig. But an unofficial visit to Wisconsin in April led to an offer and quick commitment from the three-star defensive tackle.

"The coaches at Wisconsin said they liked my athleticism, attitude and willingness to work," Benton told BadgerBlitz.com. "The people there are people who care about you as a person and not just because of how good you can play football. That really stood out to me."

Benton, who had 52 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries last in 2017, also placed second at the WIAA Division 1 state wrestling tournament to Kaukauna senior Keaton Kluever. He finished 46-2 on the year.

"Keeanu is a multi-sport kid who stays active year-round," Cougars' head coach Adam Bunderson told BadgerBlitz.com. "For wrestling, he went to state as a sophomore and then finished second this year. He's tough and uses his hands well, and those things work well in football.

"He's a big and strong kid now with lifting weights a few times a week. He's been involved in multiple sports his whole career, so it's not like he's been able to spend an off-season in the weight room and train like crazy. He's going to continue to add weight and get stronger, so I think the sky is the limit.

"Keeanu is a good kid. He's got above a 3.0 GPA, so he takes care of business in the classroom. Kids on our team like him and he's a leader for us."

No. 3 Athlete Da'Shaun Brown 

Offers from: Iowa, Iowa State, Syracuse, Western Illinois, Western Michigan and Wisconsin

The word: Da'Shaun Brown, who was offered by Wisconsin last fall, is arguably the top athlete in the 2019 class. From his quarterback position, the three-star prospect passed for 1,404 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,210 yards and 17 had scores on the ground. Brown likely isn't an option for the Badgers at this point, but a handful of other schools are currently involved in his recruitment.

No. 2 Linebacker Leo Chenal

Committed to: Wisconsin

The word: Leo Chenal, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound projected inside linebacker, was the first commit for Wisconsin in the 2019 class.

"I talked to coach (Chris) Haering quite a bit and the big thing was how both him and (older brother) John (Chenal) performed at camp this summer," Adam Hale, the head coach at Granstburg (WI) High School, told BadgerBlitz.com. "Just the way those two competed really caught the coaches' attention.

"With Leo, Wisconsin really liked what they saw firsthand at camp and they were also impressed with how he did at a combine this year. When they put those performances together after taking a look at some of his junior tape, they were pretty excited about him and they jumped on the offer."

No. 1 Tailback Julius Davis

Committed to: Wisconsin

The word: A 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior from Menomonee Falls High School, Julius Davis rushed for 1,762 yards and 17 touchdowns this past fall. In November, an unofficial visit produced an offer and quick commitment from the three-star prospect.

"It’s a big commitment that I'm excited and prepared for," Davis, an honorable mention WFCA all-state selection, told BadgerBlitz.com. "I need to focus on getting bigger and faster and keep doing the right things in the classroom and community.

"It feels good to know that there are high expectations since some of the best have came out of Wisconsin like Melvin Gordon and Ron Dayne."

Commit No. 4 for Wisconsin in the 2019 class, Davis, who chose the Badgers over an offer from Buffalo and strong interest from Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Illinois, among others, will bring a physical presence to UW's backfield when he arrives on campus.

"He's a physical back - a real powerful kid," Dan Lutz, the head coach at Menomonee Falls, told BadgerBlitz.com. "He runs behind his pads and he'd rather run through you then around you. It's something that we may need to work on a bit with him, but his greatest strength is that he's so powerful. He can make things happen and I've seen him make long runs where he takes on five or six or seven guys all in one play.

"He also goes horizontal and vertical very quickly. I've never had a back that can jump-cut and get vertical as fast as he can. The Wisconsin coaches like the way he runs behind his pads. They love that he's a power back and that he runs a lot of power and zone at our school. That's what Wisconsin does, so he's a natural fit for them."