I’ll be the first to tell you that the Wisconsin Badgers nailed it when it came to hiring head coach Gary Andersen. It’s now time for Andersen to back it up recruiting wise when it comes to his 2014 class.
There are three very key in-state recruits that Andersen will have to land if he wants to be successful in the future and come away with a top five 2014 recruiting class. Those recruits are tackle Jaden Gault (Monona Grove), guard George Panos (Arrowhead) and highly touted defensive tackle Craig Evans (Sun Prairie). Those three recruits are the top three (not necessarily in that order) recruits out of the state of Wisconsin in the 2014 class. Two of the prospects, Gault and Panos, are committed to the Badgers but are receiving other offers from some top programs in the nation. Evans decommitted from Wisconsin shortly after Bret Bielema bolted for the head coaching job at Arkansas and is quickly receiving offers as well.
Early in December new North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach and former Badgers assistant Dave Doeren offered Panos, the talented four-star recruit. Not to mention I wouldn’t be surprised if Bielema gets in the mix for Panos as the season goes on as well. Panos seems pretty solid in his commitment to the Badgers so I think it would take a lot for someone to flip him from that decision.
Gault is another recruit that seems solid in his commitment to Andersen, however there are a couple of big players making an early push for the four-star tackle. Back on the first of the month, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes offered Gault. The latest team to get in the mix are the Razorbacks. No surprise the Bielema is going after another Wisconsin recruit that he spent time looking at while he was in Madison. Look for more offers to roll in for Gault as well.
Evans is the one recruit who not only is uncommitted, but also the one who has the best chance of going elsewhere out of state. And shocker it’s Bielema looking to strike gold and steal one from the Badger state. Evans was the first of the 2014 class to decommit from the Badgers after all the coaching changes that happened. Although he has met with Andersen and they did have a good conversation about where this team is headed, look for not only Bielema but other very prominent college football programs from around the nation to make a major push for Evans in the next 11 months.
At first glance it seems as though it’s a safe bet that Panos and Gault stick with their commitment and wind up in Madison. As everyone knows however, anything can happen leading up to next year’s National Signing Day and look for some of the nation’s top teams to make a push for the two talented players. Evans is the recruit with the biggest question mark next to his name. Can Andersen and company keep him in the Badger state, or do other teams make a stronger push for the talented defensive tackle? It’s a tough call but Andersen will have to work hard to keep Evans in his home state because not only Bielema but other coaches are going to push very hard to get him on their team.