Heard: Wisconsin is putting together a special class.
Most of the value of going to camps and combines is the ability to see players compete against other elite players. But there’s also value in talking with regional scouts and analysts. And several people with whom I spoke were very high on Wisconsin’s class.
QB Graham Mertz has a case as the No. 1 QB in the nation, and the Badgers have other elite players in the class as well, with the chance to add more.
Those thinking Scott Frost is going to come in and dominate the Big Ten West by Year 2 might want to think again. There’s certainly buzz around Nebraska, but Wisconsin seems to be finally taking advantage of their success on the field by cashing in on some higher-rated recruits.
Four players earned invites to the Under Armour All-America Game, to be played in January in Orlando.
St. Louis (Mo.) Cardinal Ritter receiver Jameson Williams had as number of big plays. Williams has elite foot speed and quickness, to go along with decent height. His technique in getting off the press could use some work, but when he was on, all opponents could do is hold. Williams likes a lot of schools, including UCLA, where he visited on March 10. He said Ohio State is the only school guaranteed to make his final list.
“They shoot out the roof with their recruitment,” Williams said. “Their entire staff talks to me.”
Williams loves the Buckeyes’ offense and coaching staff, and it’s close enough to home so his family can see him play.
St. Louis Trinity Catholic receiver Marcus Washington is special. Washington was physically too much for many defensive backs. On May 13, Washington will release his top list. But he felt comfortable saying two schools will make the cut.
“Ohio State and Florida State,” Washington said. He plans to visit Florida State this summer. He’ll take some official visits in the summer and some in the fall.
WR Julian Barnett of Belleville (Mich) is committed to Michigan State and is one of the best players I’ve seen this year. He played outside and over the slot with ease, using his speed, length, and physicality.
Linebacker Shammond Cooper of St. Louis Trinity Catholic sat out with an injured groin, but showed enough on film to earn the invite. I spoke with Cooper during the event, and he is legitimately considering Illinois, along with Oklahoma.
Five more standouts
1. Receiver C.J. Boone, of St. Louis Parkway might have been the best receiver. The 6’3 Boone brought it every rep. He snatched tough throws with his hands and showed off good wheels and change of direction. Boone’s top offers are Kentucky, Missouri, and Purdue. He thinks Nebraska, Illinios, and Michigan could be next, and says Michigan would be a “game changer.” Boone said he plans to take an unofficial to UCLA in June and really wants a UCLA offer. A visit to Missouri is also in the works.
2. OT Joe Tippmann, a Wisconsin commitment from Ft. Wayne (IN) Bishop Dwenger, looked good mirroring speed rushers and using his length. He says he is recruiting for the Badgers.
3. George Karlaftis, a Purdue defensive end commitment from West Lafayette (IN), is a really intriguing player. Karlaftis has all sorts of family ties to Purdue, but he’s received major interest of late from USC, Florida, and Clemson.
“It’s a pretty good deal for me,” Karlaftis said, noting he is especially close with head coach Jeff Brohm.
Purdue is pitching playing time and the chance to make his own mark.
“Other schools are telling me Purdue is not that good or whatever, but I came to the realization that you get out of it what you put in. There’s guys in the draft from D2 schools.”
He plans to take his visits.
“I’m honest with Purdue. I need a backup plan. I tell them my dad died when I was 13, suddenly, and nobody expected that, so I’m going to make sure I see everything. And Purdue says alright, just don’t decommit from us. We want you and we’ll bend over backwards for you.”
Karlaftis identified Michigan, USC, Clemson, and Florida as other schools with whom he’s close. He’s already seen Michigan, and will see Florida on June 8 and USC is on June 22.
4. Marcus Hicks, of Wichita (KS) Northwest profiles as a jumbo defensive end, as he is already 6’5 and 240 pounds.
“It’s the family environment, the players are cool, and the coaches are people you can talk to and not just yell at you,” Hicks said of both Michigan and Oklahoma, who will definitely make his top 5. Oklahoma State is close as well.
Hicks will take an official visit to Washington June 21st and to Notre Dame for the Michigan game (September 1). He identified Oklahoma coaches Lincoln Riley and Calvin Thibodeaux, as well as Michigan coach Greg Mattison as the coaches with whom he has the best relationship.
5. Bolingbrook (Ill.) junior Anthony Williams Jr. looked really good. Williams is a 6’, 190-pound back who moved extremely well in both drills and one-on-ones. Boston College and Cincinnati have offered.
Four players who looked better than their rankings/offers
- Boone. Boone is rated the No. 87 receiver, and there is no way that is an accurate reflection.
- Anthony Williams Jr. There aren’t 65 running backs better than him.
- Romel Goston, of Chicago Al Raby isn’t even ranked nationally and is committed to Northern Illinois. If the 6’1 DB plays his senior season like he played Sunday, the Huskies will have to fight to keep him.
- Jacardia Wright, of Decatur (Il.) St. Teresa is a workhorse back without a star rating. Iowa and Michigan State have offered in the last month, and he likes the Hawkeyes’ offense. Wright also plays safety, but he moved well Sunday at a solid 6’, 200.
Three underclassmen earned invites to the Future 50, Under Armour’s underclassman event in Orlando.
Belleville (Mich.) sophomore cornerback Andre Seldon looked sharp all day. Seldon isn’t big, but he sticks to receivers consistently.
East St. Louis (Ill.) sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson is an impressive safety with a promising 6’2 frame. Virginia Tech has offered Johnson.
And St. Louis Trinity Catholic athlete Mookie Cooper is an absolute blur. He is short, but still has time to grow, and defenders have a hard time sticking with him.
These other underclassmen caught my eye.
Dominic Bass of the Chicago Phillips Academy is a 2021 defensive tackle to know. Bass is 6’4, 250 and looks like he is 25 years old. Michigan is one of many early offers.
2020 DT Denver Warren of Aurora (Il) West had a good showing. He’s stout and tough to move, but showed some movement skills of his own.
2020 athlete Marques Buford, formerly of Illinois and now living in Dallas (Trinity Christian), was impressive as a receiver.