Head coach Gary Andersen knows what he wants in players for the University of Wisconsin football team, and he apparently knows where to find them. After putting down new roots in the state of Georgia last recruiting cycle, Wisconsin is attempting to do the same in the state of Texas this time around.
It’s a curious move, considering UW has exactly zero members of its current roster hailing from the state. Yet, if there’s one thing we know about Andersen and his recruiting, he isn’t afraid to get in to tough recruiting battles or establish himself in new territories very quickly.
Over the past few weeks a ton of new offers have gone out from the Badgers, and the most common state has been the great state of Texas. After putting out just two offers in the Lone Star state in the 2014 cycle, Wisconsin currently has 14 offers to players from the state in 2015 and already have four offers out to 2016 prospects as well.
Those 14 offers in the current recruiting cycle are third most for any state, putting Texas just behind Florida (40) and Georgia (22) for most offers in 2015.
The key to offers from Wisconsin in the state seems to be one word — speed. A great example of why the Badgers are concentrating so much effort in a previously uncharted territory comes in the form of it’s latest offer. Badger247 reports that UW recently extended an offer to X’zavien Ausborne, a 6’0″, 170-pound safety out of Dallas, TX (South Oak Cliff).
According to reports, Ausborne got the attention of assistant coach Bill Busch with his track film and a timed 4.29 40-yard dash. The Badgers became Ausborne’s first offer this week, and it appears to be UW’s m.o. in the state for the most part. Wisconsin is looking to get it’s feet wet with some big time programs, but also concentrating on building a base by finding hidden gems in the football-rich state.
If the recruiting board at 247Sports is to be believed, Wisconsin is also making a good impression for some of the elite players out of the state. Current 4-star running back Tyreik Gray out of Bellaire, TX (Episcopal) is listed with warm interest in Wisconsin. He is the No. 15-ranked running back in the class and lists major interest in Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas and Oklahoma State to name a few.
While Wisconsin has it’s work cut out for it in Gray’s recruitment, making an impression on a player like that in a state like that shows just how serious Wisconsin is about pulling top-level talent wherever it goes.
Busch is the catalyst behind a lot of Wisconsin’s increase in attention to the state of Texas as well. Last recruiting cycle, Busch was a quiet member of the staff, credited with just three signees according to 247Sports. None of those signees were from Texas either, as he was credited with getting Serge Trezy, Lubern Figaro and Austin Hudson in to the fold. That’s Arizona, Massachusetts and Florida if you’re following along.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that UW is hitting Texas hard for defensive talent either, especially with Busch being the primary recruiter of the state. The Badgers have five offers out to defensive backs, including three corners and two prospects UW are recruiting as safeties. UW is shooting for the moon, offering 5-star corner Kendall Sheffield, who is considered the No. 8-ranked player in the 247Sports composite.
UW is a long shot for Sheffield, but what is important is building relationships across the state. Speaking of relationships — the recruitment of 4-star wide receiver Carlos Strickland screams relationship building.
What’s important about Strickland’s recruitment isn’t so much about whether the Badgers land the prospect (highly unlikely), but that UW is getting a relationship established at one of the biggest talent bases in the state — Skyline High School in Dallas.
In the 2016 cycle, Wisconsin is after three 4-star and one 5-star recruit in the Lone Star state. One can begin to see a pattern building in the Badgers recruiting, as UW has offered 4-star defensive end Marvin Terry. He just so happens to be a teammate of Ausborne.
The same can be seen in the 2015 offer to 3-star running back Devin Ozigbo out of Sachse High School. Look ahead to 2016 and Wisconsin already has two offers out to players at the school. Those offers are to 5-star wide receiver Devin Duvernay and 4-star cornerback Jared Mayden.
What remains to be seen is if Wisconsin’s new pet project in recruiting will pan out like its jump in to the state of Georgia did last season. Even if the Badgers pull just one of the 14 offered players, it’s a start and UW needs to remain committed if they want to make a serious dent in the state.
One thing this shows is that Andersen and his staff are willing to go anywhere and recruit hard to find the right players to fit what they want to mold UW in to. Now it’s about making the hard work pay off in the form of players on campus.