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.
2018 CB Marquis Williams picks Pitt over Wisconsin
It appeared for several months that Wisconsin was the leader for cornerback Marquis Williams (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) during his recruitment process. He even reiterated as much in an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel earlier in August. But on Monday night, Williams surprised many by committing to Pittsburgh in an announcement shared live over social media via Periscope.
“[Pittsburgh] will be very happy,” Williams told the Sun Sentinel on Monday night. “I’m going to change college football.”
Williams ultimately chose Pitt over finalists Wisconsin and Minnesota, putting an end to one of the more drawn-out processes involving a Badgers recruit in the 2018 class. Williams had listed Wisconsin as his top school as early as last November. He received a Badgers scholarship offer April 19 and last visited Wisconsin unofficially on June 22.
But Williams said he didn’t want to make a decision until his senior season began. He also indicated that, even after he decided, he intended on taking official visits to multiple schools this fall. He previously cited Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota and Pittsburgh as possible official visit destinations.
Wisconsin’s coaching staff prefers commitments from prospects that are willing to end their recruitment after picking the school. While Williams contemplated his decision this summer, the Badgers landed two other cornerback commitments in the 2018 class: Alexander Smith (Culver City, Calif.) and Travian Blaylock (Humble, Texas).
In total, Williams held 21 scholarship offers. The 5-foot-8, 154-pound senior is a 3-star player, per the 247Sports composite rankings, who transferred after last season from Coconut Creek to Cardinal Gibbons High School. As it turned out, someone with Wisconsin ties played a central role in steering Williams to Pitt. That would be Charlie Partridge, who was an assistant coach at Wisconsin from 2008-12 and now serves as defensive line coach at Pittsburgh.
“Charlie Partridge did a great job recruiting him,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Matt DuBuc told the Sun Sentinel. “We’re close with Charlie, and it ended up working out. I think the ACC was better for him than the Big Ten.”
College coaches aren’t allowed to publicly comment on specific recruits until they officially sign with the program. But following Williams’ announcement, Partridge hinted at the good news on Twitter.
— Charlie Partridge (@CoachPartridge) August 22, 2017
Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard had been recruiting Williams since Leonhard served as the program’s defensive backs coach. The fact he earned a promotion and remained with the program was part of why Wisconsin initially appealed to Williams.
“To me it’s like a sign, like a blessing to me, like trying to give me a sign like this might be the move,” Williams told Scout.com earlier in August.
Williams said the fact there were so many upperclassmen playing cornerback at Wisconsin had been a selling point because there would be room for a young player to potentially step in and fill those roles. Wisconsin starting cornerback Derrick Tindal is a senior this season, as is reserve corner Lubern Figaro. Nick Nelson, the team’s other starting cornerback, is a junior.
In the end, however, Williams liked what he saw at Pitt.
“They’re getting a really fast guy with a lot of speed,” DuBuc told the Sun Sentinel. “And a guy with ball skills because he can play receiver too, special-teams guy. A guy that can do a multitude of things.”
Wisconsin’s 2018 recruiting class sits at 18 players, and it remains to be seen how many other prospects, if any, the coaching staff adds. Safety Trent Ingalls (Menasha, Wis.) de-committed this month, but the Badgers still have safety Reggie Pearson Jr. (River Rouge, Mich.), who was the first commit in the class.
Badgers commits open seasons under Friday night lights
Not every state has started its high school football season, but a handful of Wisconsin’s committed players in the 2018 class were able to showcase their talents in Week 1 last Friday. The star was wide receiver Isaac Guerendo, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound speedster for Avon High School in Indiana.
Guerendo caught 6 passes for 176 yards with 2 touchdowns to help Avon defeat Plainfield 58-32. Guerendo’s scores came on passes of 66 and 28 yards, according to the The Indianapolis Star. The long touchdown off a screen pass was posted on Twitter and shows Guerendo outrunning half the Plainfield defense down the left sideline.
— Jared McMurry (@jaredmac26) August 18, 2017
All four of Wisconsin’s in-state commits were in action Friday night as well. Defensive end Boyd Dietzen played in one of the best high school games in Wisconsin to open the season. He helped Kimberly rally to win its 57th consecutive game in a 35-28 victory against Fond du Lac.
Dietzen is a 3-star prospect in the Badgers’ 2018 class. He recorded a sack and several other nice plays that showcased his physical dominance. Evan Flood of Badger247 was there and posted video highlights.
In other in-state games featuring Badgers commits, linebacker C.J. Goetz’s Waukesha Catholic Memorial team easily handled Mukwonago 48-9. Flood noted Goetz caught 4 passes for 47 yards with 1 touchdown and also recorded 10 tackles. Outside linebacker Mason Platter helped Menomonie crush Oshkosh North 40-0 in a game that featured a second half-running clock.
Platter registered a sack and only played the first two quarters. BadgerBlitz writer Jon McNamara captured Platter’s highlights.
Finally, defensive end Cormac Sampson’s Eau Claire Memorial team defeated Logan 35-6. Sampson recorded 3 sacks in the game. The La Crosse Tribune noted that a dozen of Logan’s rushing attempts were stopped for a loss. Logan coach Casey Knoble credited Sampson and said he was “as advertised.”
Tyler Herro showcases skills on ESPNU
Tyler Herro has been a known commodity on the local basketball scene for the past few years. But Herro, a Badgers commit in the 2018 class, continues to grow his name in national circles.
Last week, Herro participated in the prestigious Nike Skills Academy in Los Angeles as one of 30 of the top high school players in the country. The event ran six days, from Aug. 15-20, and also included 20 of the top current college players. Herro was there representing Wisconsin Playground Elite, an AAU team that is a member of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).
Herro had the opportunity to be seen by a national audience in a game aired by ESPNU. One move in particular stood out and made the social-media rounds. Herro brushed past his defender at the top of the key with a quick shot-fake hesitation and swooped in for a one-handed finish off the glass, which drew a foul.
— D1 Circuit (@D1Circuit) August 20, 2017
Herro, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound shooting guard from Milwaukee, is a 4-star prospect and rated as the No. 2 player in Wisconsin for 2018 behind Marquette commit Joey Hauser.