In-state names to know in Wisconsin for 2017
The Wisconsin coaching staff will soon be hitting the road once again as the end of the dead period draws near.
While the Badgers still have work to do in its 2016 recruiting class, they'll also be visiting the schools of many top underclassmen over the course of January. There are already over 80 confirmed scholarship offers that have gone out to Class of 2017 football recruits across the country, but only one to an in-state prospect thus far.
In order to help you keep up-to-date with some of the early targets UW will be taking a look at, BadgerBlitz.com brings you 17 in-state names to know for 2017.
*Note: These are not all of the in-state prospects Wisconsin is looking at up to this point for the 2017 class. Rather, these are the some of the players who we feel you will be hearing about the most as the Badgers move along in the recruiting process. We have them listed in alphabetical order.
1) TARGET: 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive lineman Tyler Beach (Port Washington)
THE SKINNY: Beach already has four scholarship offers from Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Northern Illinois and Bowling Green. He’s received strong interest from Wisconsin, as well as Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska, among others, and recently competed in the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio.
Beach was on campus for UW’s win over Miami (OH) this fall.
“The visit to Wisconsin was great,” Beach told BadgerBlitz.com. “I talked to coach (Joe) Rudolph and he said he was very excited about me. I also got to experience my first Badgers game, which was great. I’m excited about Wisconsin recruiting me. I have a high interest in Wisconsin.”
2) TARGET: 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive lineman Isaac Benner (Chippewa Falls)
THE SKINNY: A first-team WFCA all-sate selection as an offensive lineman, Benner has received early attention from Central Michigan, Iowa, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Western Illinois and Wisconsin, among others. He also plays basketball for his high school team.
3) TARGET: 6-foot-4, 255-pound offensive lineman Logan Bruss (Kimberly)
THE SKINNY: Bruss, who helped Kimberly to another state title this fall, recently picked up his first offer from Buffalo. He camped at Wisconsin this past summer and performed well very in front of Rudolph. Bruss was arguably the second best lineman at the particular camp behind Patrick Kasl, who ended up earning an offer and committing to the Badgers.
“My interest in Wisconsin is very high,” said Bruss, who visited Madison twice unofficially this fall. “Everything that I’ve experienced there so far has been awesome. Being the team that I’ve cheered for my whole life, it definitely has been a dream to play there.”
4) TARGET: 6-foot-1, 185-pound wide receiver Terrell Carey (Madison East)
THE SKINNY: Carey has talked about attending IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year but for now, he’s located in the Badgers’ backyard. The three-star prospect has received strong interest from Purdue, with Bowling Green, South Dakota, Western Illinois and Wisconsin, among others, also in the mix.
“I love the environment that Wisconsin has,” Carey told BadgerBlitz.com. “There isn’t any other place like it. They are just so caring – the facilities and the academics are crazy good, too.”
5) TARGET: 6-foot-5, 283-pound offensive tackle Alex Fenton (Menomonie)
THE SKINNY: North Dakota already came in with an early offer for Fenton, who blocked this past season for future Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley and future Wisconsin linebacker Mason Stokke, who was also a standout running back. Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin are also involved in his recruitment.
6) TARGET: 6-foot-5, 210-pound athlete Jake Ferguson (Madison Memorial)
THE SKINNY: The grandson of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, Ferguson is the only known in-state prospect in the junior class with an offer from the Badgers. He’s also received scholarships from Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska and Northern Illinois, with interest coming from Oklahoma and Norte Dame, among others.
Ferguson played multiple positions on both sides of the ball for Memorial but likely projects best as a tight end at the next level.
“I’m putting every team that offers me or has interest in me through the same process,” Ferguson told Rivals.com. “UW is going to go through the same process as every other school, but obviously they are my hometown team, so it’s a little bit of an advantage.”
7) TARGET: 6-foot-4, 220-pound defensive end TJ Garrity (Waukesha South)
THE SKINNY: Garrity’s father, Tom, played for Michigan and he’s taken multiple trips to Ann Arbor. He’s also visited Wisconsin and is hearing from a number of other schools from across the Midwest.
"I've always been exposed to Wisconsin being from here but my dad (Tom) actually played for Michigan in the 70s and early 80s, so I've been more of a Michigan fan growing up," Garrity told BadgerBlitz.com. "I love the Badgers and I love Wisconsin; I always tell people that when I'm not cheering for Michigan I'm cheering for Wisconsin. I've been around the Michigan campus and facilities with my dad when I was younger, but Wisconsin was the first real recruiting visit that I've taken."
8) TARGET: 6-foot-8, 287-pound offensive tackle Jonathan Gruetzmacher (Merrill)
THE SKINNY: Gruetzmacher was a frequent guest at Camp Randall this fall and is certainly an offer-worthy candidate. Duke, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Nebraska and Virginia are also in the mix.
“They (UW) have a really strong tradition of having good offensive linemen,” Gruetzmacher told BadgerBlitz.com. “They seem like they really know that they’re doing, because they always have a dominant ground game behind their big offensive linemen up front.
“They said they want to see me do one more thing on film before they offer me – they want to see me be more explosive in my first three steps off the ball. I feel like I’ll definitely be able to improve on that.”
9) TARGET: 6-foot-5, 260-pound offensive lineman Matt Henningsen (Menomonee Falls)
THE SKINNY: Eastern Michigan, North Dakota State, Purdue and Wisconsin are involved with Henningsen, a first-year all-conference selection who visited Madison unofficially this fall.
10) TARGET: 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker Edward Jacobson (Janesville Parker)
THE SKINNY: A big hitter from his linebacker position, Jacobson visited Wisconsin unofficially this fall and is also hearing from Northern Iowa and Purdue.
11) TARGET: 6-foot-1, 180-pound safety Joe Ludwig (Middleton)
THE SKINNY: The son of former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, Joe Ludwig and his family stayed in the Madison area when their father took over as offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt. A handful of schools in the Big Ten have shown early interest.
12) TARGET: 6-foot-6, 255-pound defensive lineman Daviyon Nixon (Kenosha Indiana Trail)
THE SKINNY: Nixon’s size and athletic ability make him an intriguing prospect on the defensive line. He was on campus for Wisconsin’s 48-10 win over Rutgers this fall.
“The experience during the game and the atmosphere was really nice,” Nixon told BadgerBlitz.com. “All the coaches were really nice and it was an enjoyable game. The way they played and the way they functioned together, I really liked that.”
13) TARGET: 5-foot-10, 235-pound athlete Samuel Santiago-Lloyd (Brookfield East)
THE SKINNY: Santiago-Lloyd is one of the most intriguing prospects in the state. He was a WFCA first-team all-state selection at both outside linebacker and running back, where he rushed for over 2,250 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior. Michigan State and Wisconsin have inquired early.
14) TARGET: 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive lineman Nathan Schultz (Arrowhead)
THE SKINNY: Schultz, an honorable mention all-state selection as a junior, will be a three-year for perennial powerhouse Arrowhead this fall. He has the ability to play either end or tackle at the next level.
15) TARGET: 6-foot-4, 190-pound quarterback Danny Vanden Boom (Kimberly)
THE SKINNY: Vanden Boom, who passed for close to 2,500 yards with 25 touchdowns as a junior, is the son of former Badgers safety Matt Vanden Boom, an all-American and team captain in the early 1980s.
"I have received some letters from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri," Danny Vanden Boom told BadgerBlitz.com. "I've been to a couple games in Madison on unofficial visits and I was in Minnesota last weekend. There have also been some schools interested in me for baseball (shortstop and pitcher). I've also received some preliminary interest from Iowa and Northwestern, as well and a number of other schools outside of the Big Ten.”
16) TARGET: 6-foot-7, 250-pound lineman Aaron Vopal (De Pere)
THE SKINNY: Buffalo and New Mexico have already offered Vopal, who is being looked at as both a defensive end and offensive tackle. Coaches from the Badgers visited his school during the last live evaluation period.
“Coach (Chris) Haering came in last week to talk to my high school coach and coach (Dave) Aranda did the same this week,” Vopal told BadgerBlitz.com. “They just told my coach they liked what they saw and were interested in me.
“My interest in Wisconsin is high, for sure. I grew up watching and adoring the Badgers, so it’s exciting to have a chance to play for a team that I always liked.”
17) TARGET: 6-foot-4, 245-pound lineman Mike Witkowski (Greendale)
THE SKINNY: Witkowski will be a four-year starter at Greendale this upcoming fall. He likely projects as an interior offensive lineman but also works at defensive tackle. Witkowski has taken multiple visits to Michigan State and is hearing from a handful of other schools in the Big Ten, though contact from the Badgers has been minimal.
Others considered: ATH Rayvon Bartlett, LB Jake Collinsworth, OL Calvin Dassow, RB Ethan Ellingsworth, ATH Caiden Haake, LB Tanner Johnson, OL Reagan Kropp, LB Noah Larson, OL Jack Lewaren, DE/TE Logan McCormick, QB Ben Nienhuis and Israel Pitchford, among others.