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Wisconsin boosts athleticism at WR, DB, adds QB

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MADISON, Wis. (AP)

Coach Gary Andersen's first recruiting class following a full year in the Big Ten netted Wisconsin more brawn along the offensive line and an injection of speed and athleticism at receiver and defensive back.

Oh yeah, there's a quarterback, too.

Consensus four-star prospect D.J. Gillins out of Jacksonville, Fla., is already enrolled. He's described as an athletic, dual-threat signal-caller. Returnee Tanner McEvoy is also back at his natural position of quarterback in the spring after a year at safety.

But don't think there's a full-blown quarterback competition after incumbent starter Joel Stave's up-and-down 2013 campaign.

''It's his spot to lose,'' Andersen said. ''So he'll be given that opportunity to obviously compete and get the team around him.''

Otherwise, adding athletic prospects was a priority at receiver and defensive back, too.

Four signees were added to the secondary, an area that was a bit exposed in the upset loss to Penn State to end the regular season. Both starting safety positions are open.

At receiver, consensus four-star prospect Dareian Watkins from Ohio is one of five signees at a position that loses one of the Big Ten's top players in Jared Abbrederis.

''If you look at that position, as we went through the recruiting process, it became very apparent that we were going to get attacked,'' Andersen said.

While running the ball remains the top priority, ''these young men understand the direction and the vision of where the offense wants to go and where we want to take the offense,'' he added.

Andersen also carried on the Wisconsin tradition of adding quality offensive lineman, the top signee being consensus four-star recruit Jaden Gault. Already, 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, the Cottage Grove, Wis., prospect stayed in state.

Andersen also said that running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Thomas Hammock left the program Wednesday. Hammock was a key holdover from the previous regime, and Andersen said that the now former assistant wanted to coach in the NFL.

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WISCONSIN

National rankings: (Rivals 33; Scout 28).

Best in class: Jaden Gault, OL, Cottage Grove, Wis.

Best of the rest: D.J. Gillins, QB, Jacksonville, Fla.; Dareian Watkins, WR, Galion, Ohio; Taiwan Deal, RB, Capitol Heights, Md.; George Panos, OL, Hartland, Wis.; Conor Sheehy, DL, Milwaukee.

Late addition: D'Cota Dixon, CB, Oak Hill, Fla.

One that got away: Craig Evans, DL, Sun Prairie, Wis. (Michigan St.)

NOTES: Panos' father, Joe, played offensive line at Wisconsin from 1990-93 and was captain of the 1993 Big Ten championship team. ... Andersen's son, Chasen, is joining the Badgers as a walk-on inside linebacker.

Tagged: Wisconsin

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