Recruiting never stops in Badgers country, and we’re here to help put it all in perspective. Join us every Tuesday and Thursday night for a recap of Wisconsin recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Wisconsin target Kazmeir Allen picks UCLA
Wisconsin always figured to be a long shot in the Kazmeir Allen sweepstakes. But when Allen, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back from Tulare, Calif., included the Badgers in his list of top six schools last week, it seemed they might have at least a puncher’s chance.
If only Wisconsin could get Allen on campus, maybe it would be enough to sway him. But that visit never came, and Allen announced his commitment to UCLA on Wednesday.
University of California, Los Angeles.
S 1 R O M 8 R I U N. 100% pic.twitter.com/xYqB6c5gPc
— Kameir Allen (@kazmeir_) November 29, 2017
The decision occurred five days after he released a top six that featured Wisconsin, USC, San Diego State, Arizona State, Cal and Fresno State. So, how did UCLA wind up as the winner? Hiring new coach Chip Kelly apparently sealed the deal.
Kelly was announced as UCLA’s coach on Monday. According to the Visalia (Calif.) Times-Delta, UCLA running backs coach DeShaun Foster visited Allen on Tuesday and offered him a scholarship. Kelly called Allen later that night, and Allen committed.
According to the Times-Delta, Kazmeir grew up watching Kelly’s up-tempo, spread system at Oregon from 2009 to 2012. Among the running backs that impressed Kazmeir were Ducks standouts LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. Kelly led Oregon to four consecutive BCS games, including a 45-38 victory against Wisconsin in the 2012 Rose Bowl.
“It was the perfect situation,” Allen told 247Sports.com. “Chip Kelly has a history with dudes that are fast, and I want to be a part of that.”
Wisconsin offered Allen a scholarship for its 2018 recruiting class on Nov. 9, and he was supposed to visit campus for Wisconsin’s home finale against Michigan on Nov. 18. But he rescheduled with the intent of visiting in December. Even though Wisconsin already had a running back commitment in the 2018 class with Nakia Watson (Austin, Texas), the Badgers were exploring another tailback.
Allen, a 3-star prospect, is rated as the No. 16 all-purpose back in the country, according to the 247Sports composite.
According to the Times-Delta, Allen carried 17 times for 251 yards with 4 touchdowns to help Tulare Union beat Dinuba 49-21 and capture the Central Section Division II title. Allen scored on touchdown runs of 2, 38, 26 and 91 yards. He raised his state single-season record for total touchdowns to 70. Tulare Union will next play in the regional championship game.
“It’s very special,” Allen told the Times-Delta. “I will probably receive more offers, but at the end of the day, I know where I’m going, so I’m going to stick with that.”
2018 WR commit Aron Cruickshank talks Badgers
Aron Cruickshank has been a star in his senior season for Erasmus Hall (N.Y.), and the Badgers commit has his team on the cusp of a city championship. Cruickshank scored 3 touchdowns to help Erasmus Hall defeat Midwood 34-6 to reach the Public Schools Athletic League title game on Dec. 5.
Rivals.com reporter Shawn Brown caught up with Cruickshank after his big semifinal performance to talk about his skill set and his commitment to Wisconsin. Cruickshank took his official visit to Wisconsin to watch the Badgers’ 38-14 victory against Iowa and is eager to come to Madison.
“I feel so excited,” he said. “I already feel like I’m a part of the family because when I went on my official, it was just welcoming. I just can’t wait to get down there.”
Cruickshank was asked about the performance of another East Coast Badgers recruit in running back Jonathan Taylor. Taylor, from Salem, N.J., has rushed for 1,806 yards and could be a Heisman Trophy finalist as a freshman. That success has inspired Cruickshank and provided him with evidence that a young player can contribute at Wisconsin.
“It gives me more confidence that I can just go in there if I do my thing in the weight room and on the field, that could be me one day,” Cruickshank said.
Cruickshank, along with wide receiver Isaac Guerendo (Avon, Ind.), could be among the fastest players in Wisconsin’s 2018 recruiting class. Wisconsin also has commitments from wide receiver teammates Taj Mustapha and A.J. Abbott (West Bloomfield, Mich.). Given how well the Badgers’ current underclassmen have performed this season, the future at that position is bright.
Cruickshank is a 3-star prospect who is rated as the No. 6 player in New York and the No. 47 athlete in the 2018 class. Here is the full Rivals interview with Cruickshank:
Bryson Williams earns No. 1 DL ranking in Nebraska
Omaha World-Herald writer Mike Sautter was tasked with ranking the best high school senior football prospects in Nebraska. His toughest decision was how to order defensive linemen Bryson Williams and Masry Mapieu.
Williams, a 6-2, 300-pound Wisconsin commit from Lincoln Southeast, began the season ranked behind York High School’s Mapieu in Sautter’s rankings, as well as in the 247Sports composite rankings. But Williams’ performance this season was enough to elevate him in both rankings above Mapieu, who is committed to Nebraska.
“The decision was not an easy one,” Sautter wrote. “Ultimately, I moved Williams ahead of Mapieu. Although they are both great players, Williams had a better 2017 season statistically and was more dominant than Mapieu.
“Mapieu did exactly what was asked of him for the Class B state champion Dukes. He is a bigger athlete whose role was to be a true nose tackle and take on double teams. But Williams is an impressive athlete, and his measurables are off the charts for a player of his size.”
According to MaxPreps.com, Williams finished the season with 77 tackles and 3 sacks. He also was used in short-yardage goal-line scenarios on offense and scored 4 touchdowns.
Williams, a 3-star prospect who ranks as the No. 55 defensive tackle in the country in the 247Sports composite ratings, did not receive a scholarship offer from former Nebraska coach Mike Riley. The Cornhuskers had already offered Mapieu, who committed in June 2016.
“At first, I guess I was kind of surprised,” Williams told Land of 10 when he committed to Wisconsin in July. “I never paid too much attention to it. Just thinking about it, what is that going to do? Coach Riley sat me down and gave me a talk on the reasoning why they weren’t going to. It was respectful. No hate against them.
“They offered that Masry kid that they even agreed that I was better than. They just offered him way before my name kind of got out. It is what it is.”
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