(Washington is No. 2 in White)
As great as the Badgers front seven could wind up being in 2013, the defense won't be a complete success without some big time help form a secondary that will only feature one returning starter and not have a lot of depth period. On Thursday, Gary Andersen got his 1st verbal commitment to the University of Wisconsin in Jakarrie Washington, a cornerback prospect out of a state Wisconsin doesn't or hasn't done much recruiting in – Massachusetts.
Washington has something that intrigues Andersen and is also something that can't be taught – natural speed. Of course that speed will need to be harnessed a bit, but it is important to note that Andersen is willing to go wherever the right players are to land them for the Badgers.
He is a 5'11" corner/wide receiver out of Everett, Massachusetts and will be the 3rd member of the 2013 class at the corner position, joining two early enrollees in Sojourn Shelton and Keelon Brookins. Despite his speed at wide receiver the Badgers offered him as a defensive player and feel his speed will be a major, MAJOR asset in the backfield of the defense.
This was a nice grab for the Badgers because he adds a level of speed that no one in the class or on the team currently has in his raw speed, which currently stands at 4.4 seconds in the 40 yard dash. ESPN Boston named him to their all-state team and he is believed to be the fastest player in the state.
Oh, and in case you were thinking this kid was just some project off the scrap heap or whatever please consider the fact that his list of offers included Nebraska, Washington State, and Texas Tech.
So, with a list like that clearly there was some pretty good interest from some not so "fly by night" schools.
What this commitment does underscore is just how important it will be for Andersen, Dave Aranda and Ben Strickland to really get to work on developing a young group of players in the secondary.
Just look at the roster and you'll see only one player that has ever made a collegiate start in the secondary on the roster and that's Dez Southward. In fact here is an exact look at the roster of defensive backs Wisconsin have on their roster as we speak:
|Ponio, Jerry||DB||6'1"||202||RS SR|
|Hillary, Darius||DB||5'11"||190||RS SO|
|Caputo, Michael||DB||6'1"||210||RS SO|
|Jean, Peniel||DB||5'11"||190||RS JR|
|Ogunbowale, Dare||DB||5'11"||175||RS FR|
|Trotter, Michael||DB||6'0"||209||RS JR||3|
|Etienne, Hugs||DB||5'11"||168||RS FR|
|Feaster, Darius||DB||5'11"||208||RS SR|
So, as you can see Wisconsin is going to be rather inexperienced at cornerback no matter who they throw out there and who is in the rotation. Southward started 3 games last season and all 14 this year and Michael Trotter started 3 games in 2011 only to ride the pine in favor of Southward in 2012. So, could Trotter make it back as a starter now that Shelton Johnson is gone in 2013?
As you can see there are a lot of questions that need to be answered during Spring ball, summer workouts, fall camp, and probably into the actual start to the season in order for this young group, one that will feature 12 underclassmen and just 6 upperclassmen, to gel and find the right combinations of players in certain situations.
That's where the speed and instinctiveness of the likes of Shelton, Brookins, and now Washington will come in handy if they want to make an immediate impact on this roster. Of course they will have to fight off fellow intriguing prospects in redshirt freshmen Hugs Etienne and Reggie Mitchell – whom the previous staff raved about before stashing them away for injury and other reasons last season.
No matter what the addition of Washington will be massive to building a solid foundation in the secondary for years to come. Now, it's time to just keep an eye on potential flip Marcus Ball at the Safety spot, which is super thin.