Wisconsin reinforces in trenches on national signing day
MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin got reinforcements in the trenches on national signing day.
Coach Paul Chryst's highest-rated signees among the 25-member recruiting class announced Wednesday were a beefy, in-state offensive lineman and a productive pass rusher from Arizona.
Chryst, who took over as coach in December 2014, capped his first full recruiting cycle with two quality big men. It's a Badgers specialty.
In-state product Cole Van Lanen, a consensus four-star prospect, will make the trip this fall from Green Bay to join an already young offensive line that should improve after its growing pains in 2015.
Like Van Lanen, defensive lineman Garrett Rand earned an invite to the 2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Rand, who had 92 tackles and 15 sacks as a high school senior, would also give a relatively young position group even more depth.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: On the bubble.
Best in class: Wisconsin's switch in defensive coordinators from Dave Aranda to Justin Wilcox didn't hurt when it came to signing Rand. The Badgers are sticking with a 3-4 base defense. After getting hired last week, Wilcox's first official duty with Wisconsin was a recruiting visit to Rand. ''Garrett's a very explosive, strong kid. He's got scheme versatility … he's not a guy you can pigeon-hole, he can play different spots along the defensive line,'' Wilcox said. Rand also wrestled in high school.
Best of the rest: Sam Brodner, a 5-foot-10 running back from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, was the Chicago Tribune Player of the Year as a senior. … P Anthony Lotti was recruited from Flowery Branch, Georgia and figures to play right away with senior Drew Meyer out of eligibility.
Late addition: Wisconsin added two defensive backs in late January when Caesar Williams and Deron Harrell gave their verbal commitments, according to Scout.com. Chryst said Harrell may not officially join the team until January 2017. CB Sojourn Shelton will be the lone returning starter in the secondary in the 2016 season.
One that got away: Touted running back prospect Antonio Williams dropped his verbal commitment to Wisconsin in October to commit to Ohio State.
How they'll fit in: The sting of losing Williams is eased a bit with the late addition of Brodner, plus the return of Corey Clement to the Wisconsin backfield in 2016. There is depth at the position with Clement joining fellow returnees Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal.
For the full list: http://www.uwbadgers.com/sports/2016/1/13/national-signing-day-2016.aspx#player-table