Wisconsin football: 3 things Badgers need to accomplish on recruiting trail in May

Each month, Wisconsin beat reporter Jesse Temple will take a look at the Badgers’ recruiting to-do list here on Land of 10. This outlook focuses on three concerns for the program’s recruiting efforts in the weeks ahead. In this edition, we’ll look at what Wisconsin needs to accomplish in May.

Wisconsin’s recruiting efforts in April netted a committed prospect in the 2019 class (athlete Marcus Graham) and a transfer from Houston (safety Collin Wilder). The Badgers lost a commitment from safety Bryson Shaw, who flipped to Ohio State. Wisconsin will attempt to find more success in the coming month.

Land another commitment in 2019 class

Wisconsin gained momentum from September to February by receiving at least one commitment in the 2019 class each month. Bryson Shaw’s de-commitment on Saturday sucked a bit of wind from the Badgers’ sails, but Wisconsin can recover quickly with a strong May.

The next three months will be vital to Wisconsin’s recruiting efforts in the 2019 class, and we should see at least a few more commitments during that time. Wisconsin has positioned itself well for players such as running back Patrick Garwo (Fairless Hills, Pa.), tackle Bryce Benhart (Lakeville, Minn.) and cornerback Semar Melvin (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Melvin, outside linebacker Spencer Lytle (Bellflower, Calif.) and defensive end Michael Fletcher (Flint, Mich.) have campus visits set up for June.

Garwo, one of Wisconsin’s top running back targets in the 2019 class, has been a Philadelphia Catholic League sensation. He finished his sophomore season with 895 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. As a junior last season, he amassed 1,879 yards with 24 touchdowns to earn first-team all-state honors and the Philadelphia Catholic League MVP.

Garwo recently narrowed his list of schools to six: Wisconsin, Boston College, North Carolina, Virginia, Syracuse and Rutgers. Garwo, a 3-star prospect, ranks as the No. 4 player in Pennsylvania and the No. 26 running back in the country, according to the 247Sports composite.

“Probably the biggest thing about him is his dedication and his drive,” Garwo’s football coach, Jack Techtmann, told Land of 10. “As far as a running back is concerned, he’s got unbelievable vision and great ability to find open space and to accelerate into it. He’s a student of the game. He has really concentrated on where he wants to go, what he wants to do and knows that football is a main path to getting there.

“He’s the hardest worker in our weight room. He’s the hardest worker on our field. He’s a culture builder. He sets the tone for our entire team. Even as a junior, he was voted captain because of his leadership. I’m a little biased, but he’s just an unbelievable kid. I’ve been coaching for close to 40 years, and he’s one of the best that I’ve ever had.”

Garwo previously told Land of 10 that his uncle’s family lives in Sun Prairie, Wis., which is less than 30 minutes from Wisconsin’s campus. Garwo intends to visit his uncle for a family reunion this summer and also will visit the university. Techtmann said Garwo had shared a couple of reasons why he is so interested in Wisconsin.

“First of all, the style of football they play,” Techtmann said. “The fact that it’s a Big Ten school weighs into it real heavy. The family thing weighs into it, and the academics also. His mom does her due diligence on every school. She knows where he can go and get a great education, and that is ultimately important to both his parents.”

Wisconsin currently has eight committed players in the 2019 class: quarterback Graham Mertz (Overland Park, Kan.), linebacker Leo Chenal (Grantsburg, Wis.), tackle Logan Brown (Grand Rapids, Mich.), running back Julius Davis (Menomonee Falls, Wis.), tackle Joe Tippmann (Fort Wayne, Ind.), receiver Nolan Groulx (Cornelius, N.C.), tight end Hayden Rucci (Lititz, Pa.) and athlete Marcus Graham (Mount Holly, N.C.).

Build on progress from campus visitors

Wisconsin hosted several visitors during one of its junior days in April. Included in that group was defensive lineman Austin Ertl (Wauwatosa, Wis.), tight end Jake Rock (Wales, Wis.), offensive lineman Trey Wedig (Wales, Wis.), wide receiver Jacob Lippe (Port Washington, Wis.), tight end Caden Blum (Baraboo, Wis.) and inside linebacker Brocke Horne (Romeo, Mich.).

Ertl does not yet have a Wisconsin scholarship offer but told Land of 10 last month that he thought he could earn one at a camp this summer. Ertl is listed at 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds. He said that during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Wisconsin’s coaches discussed the possibility of him playing on the Badgers offensive line. But he has not grown enough to be considered a viable offensive lineman at Wisconsin. Instead, coaches have spoken to him about potentially playing nose guard.

Other college programs largely have been split on whether Ertl would play as an offensive or defensive lineman at the next level. His scholarship offer list includes Mid-American Conference schools Buffalo, Central Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Northern Illinois.

Ertl noted that Dartmouth, Columbia and Fordham were among the East Coast schools that have offered him. He also is drawing interest from Syracuse, Boston College, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa and Iowa State.

Last season, Ertl earned Wisconsin Football Coaches Association all-state honors on offense and defense. He was a first-team selection as an offensive lineman and an honorable-mention pick as a defensive lineman. Ertl registered 35 tackles with 15 tackles for loss, 4 1/2 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. He also possesses intangibles that a program such as Wisconsin would appreciate.

“He’s far and away the best lineman I’ve ever coached in my career, maybe I’ve ever seen at the high school level,” Wauwatosa West football coach Matt Good said. “The way he plays is just different. He has a different level about him, a different level of intensity that is unimaginable at the high school level. It’s his energy level, his passion for the game, the way he plays it. He gets after you in a way that I’ve never seen. He’s relentless.”

Wedig is a 6-7, 284-pound prospect who holds scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Iowa State, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame and Syracuse. He visited Notre Dame two weekends ago. Wedig is rated by 247Sports as the No. 22 tackle in the 2020 class. Wisconsin already has one tackle committed in 2020 with in-state prospect Jack Nelson (Stoughton, Wis.).

Continue to offer prospects in 2019, 2020 and 2021

Wisconsin’s coaching staff has been busy evaluating and offering scholarships to prospects across the country since the Badgers’ season ended. In January, Wisconsin offered at least 18 known scholarships to prospects in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes. The Badgers offered six players in February. Wisconsin offered at least 16 known scholarships in March and 22 in April.

Here’s a rundown of which prospects Wisconsin offered in April:

2019: athlete Marcus Graham (Mount Holly, N.C.), defensive tackle D’Von Ellies (Owings Mills, Md.), defensive end Noah Potter (Mentor, Ohio), offensive lineman Ira Henry (St. Louis), defensive end Etinosa Reuben (Riverside, Mo.), cornerback Shamar Martin (San Diego), safety Ishmael Burdine (Slidell, La.), defensive tackle Keeanu Benton (Janesville, Wis.), cornerback Nicktroy Fortune (Lawrenceville, Ga.), cornerback Warren Burrell (Suwanee, Ga.)

2020: offensive lineman Andrew Gentry (Littleton, Colo.), outside linebacker Kaden Johnson (Minneapolis), wide receiver Rakim Jarrett (Washington, D.C.), outside linebacker Mekhail Sherman (Washington, D.C.), running back Miles Friday (Stone Mountain, Ga.), defensive tackle Kevon Billingsley (St. Louis), wide receiver Mordecai McDaniel (Washington, D.C.), outside linebacker Kevin Swint (Carrollton, Ga.), defensive tackle Denver Warren (Aurora, Ill.), safety Jordan Morant (Oradell, N.J.), wide receiver AJ Henning (Frankfort, Ill.), wide receiver Gee Scott (Sammamish, Wash.)

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