November 14, 2008

Door closed on in-state offers in 2009?

&pr&prWith Signing Day now just a few months away, it appears the Wisconsin football program still has a few more spots to fill in its 2009 recruiting class, a group that currently includes 16 prospects set to sign in February.

On paper, it looks as though a number of positions have been filled, namely quarterback (Jon Budmayr and running back (Montee Ball), while other spots-defensive tackle, wide receiver and tight end-appear have room for at least one additional athlete.

Focusing on the defensive tackle position, the Badgers already have a verbal from four-star prospect Jordan Kohout, but it's been well documented that the coaching staff would like to add at least one more true tackle in this class.

UW is still in the running for Pat Muldoon (6-foot-4, 250 pounds), but it's unclear whether the staff would like him to stay at end or move inside to tackle should he pledge to Wisconsin. That said, it would seem in-state prospect Zach Anderson (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) would be the beneficiary of a late offer to satisfy the need inside.

However, that does not appear to be the case-at least not at the current time-for the two-star athlete from Ladysmith.

"To be honest with you, the Badgers have not contacted me," Anderson told earlier this week. "They told me they were going to keep in contact with me and they told me they were going to talk with me during the whole process, but I haven't been in contact with them at all.

"I just looked at your site at saw that Tyler Dippel committed. They told us this summer at the same time to keep in touch, but it looks like he got his offer. I've just been waiting around and working hard, but it's been a while since I talked with people from Wisconsin. I'm not sure what's going on down there."

Anderson has already given his verbal to Northern Illinois, but it's no secret the senior has grown up rooting for the Badgers.

"I made a good commitment, in my eyes, to Northern Illinois," said Anderson, whose team finished 7-4 this season and made it to the second round of the WIAA playoffs. "They have a great program, a very young program. It's close enough to home and I really feel I can succeed down there."

Would a preferred walk-on role be on option should that opportunity present itself?

"I don't know if I could do a preferred walk-on to Wisconsin even though it's a team I would really love to play for," he said. "Just money-wise, it may not be possible. I really worked my butt off this summer because I knew coming in that I needed a scholarship in order to go to school. Individually, from starting out four years ago, from my freshman year, I think I improved every single year. I'd have to say this was my best year by far because I think I made it the ball on every defensive play. This year I improved my 40 (yard dash) time from a 4.9 last year to a 4.6 this year and I weigh 295 pounds. I really feel like I worked by butt of this summer, but an offer from UW never came."

Anderson, who toured Northern Illinois this past Wednesday on an unofficial visit, will now turn his attention to wrestling, where he has been working out the last few years with current Badger starter, Mike Newkirk.

"Usually Mike comes home after winter break to wrestle with me, but I don't know if he's going to be able to do that because he'll be training for the NFL and combine stuff," said Anderson, who has lost to the eventual state champion each of the last three years in the state tournament. "If he does that will be really helpful, but if he doesn't, I'll understand why."

On the other side of the ball, it appears Wisconsin would like to add one more tight end in this class. After falling short in close battles for Ra'Shede Hageman (Minnesota) and Brock DeCiccio (Pittsburgh), many familiar with the program believed that Justin Juckem, a two-star athlete from Chilton, Wis., would be next on UW's list.

But similar to Anderson situation, it's been a long time since Juckem and the Badgers have been in contact.

"Since this summer they really haven't contacted me at all," said Juckem in regards to the Badger staff. "I guess I'm not really concerned with them anymore. Right now it's mainly just talking to all the coaches and finding time to meet with them at their school. Just seeing what schools have to offer and narrow my list down from the schools that have already offered (a scholarship)."

Juckem, whose team did not qualify for the playoffs this season, would like to make his decision by next month.

"Basically by December I want to have my decision made," said Juckem, who currently has offers from Washington State, Army, North Dakota and North Dakota State. "I went to North Dakota State last weekend and I really like what they had to offer. I like their facilities and the coaching staff. That academic part, too, it really seems to be a great school. In two weeks I'll be making a trip to Washington State to see what that's all about. So I'm excited for the next month or so."

Juckem also noted an ACC school showed more interest as of late.

"Boston College has been contacting more than they usually have," he said. "They said they have a possible offer coming soon, so we'll see how that goes."

So is the door now closed for in-state offers in the 2009 class? Five have been extended and all five (Kohout, Dippel Travis Frederick, Ryan Groy and Shelby Harris) quickly gave their verbal.

Along with Anderson and Juckem, there are a handful of other prospects from the state that will be major Division I contributors.

Kimberly's A.J. Klein would probably rank atop "the best of the rest" list, but he seems to be happy with his verbal to Iowa State and Wisconsin already has three verbals from linebackers (A.J. Fenton, Conor O'Neill and Chris Borland) in this class. Furthermore, Roderick Goodlow, a potential outside backer/safety, will be making his official to Madison this weekend.

Arrowhead's Jeff Budzien is now up to four offers, but with the play of current redshirt freshman Philip Welch, it would be highly unlikely that UW would offer a specialist in this class.

Outside of that, it appears players such as Ethan Hemer, Alex Dietzen, who visited the week of the Penn State game, and Hank Jacobs-three players would have camped and visited the campus-would only be Badgers next season in a walk-on role.

The following is a link for in-state offers and commitments in the 2009 class: IN-STATE OFFERS AND VERBALS

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