National signing day has come and gone, and the newest crop of college athletes waits for their next evolution of relentless evaluation. The classes themselves undergo continual dissection as grown men hoist faxes from high school seniors like hunting trophies.
Once the Letters of Intent have finished rolling through, individual critiques quickly move to more collective criticisms as experts alternatively attack and praise schools with the best hauls.
The University of Wisconsin is by no means immune to the pundits, and the review of the 2012 class seems to carry more negatives than positive. But a closer look at the newest Badgers dispels most of the arguments lobbed at the cardinal and white.
Size of the Class
Most analysts narrowed their focus right away on the size of the class, which is the smallest in Bret Bielema's tenure, at 12 scholarship players. Most fans are most likely wondering the same thing.
The reason for the class' size is quite simple: The team doesn't have that many scholarships to give.
In fact, in a recent interview with ESPN.com, Bielema revealed that the team had plans for an even smaller class, but some NFL departures led to a few more offers:
"We originally thought it was going to be a class of nine or 10. There were some departures on our team. Obviously, Pete Konz, I don't want to have a great player leave early, but the benefit of that is we got to sign another kid. This was really a class we were excited about, because we were going after some high-profile guys and they were jumping in the boat."
And jump in the boat they did. The team addressed needs with high-quality athletes who fit their system—not teenage divas looking to make a splash on national television.
The Chryst Effect
When Paul Chryst left Wisconsin to take the reins at Pitt, many feared a recruiting exodus would follow.
The exodus never came.
All in all, the Badgers lost two commits in the aftermath, but neither became Panthers. Four-star offensive lineman J.J. Denman has become somewhat of jinx, as each team he committed to saw major staff changes (Penn State, Wisconsin and Rutgers.) Today, he finds himself as a Scarlet Knight.
Kyle Dodson, another 4-star offensive line prospect, became a top target for Urban Meyer and signed with Ohio State. Most recruiting services predicted Dodson's soft verbal to Wisconsin would inevitably become a commitment to Meyer soon after the new coach was introduced.
As always with Wisconsin, substance trumps style, steak beats sizzle and quality outweighs quantity—even in recruiting.