Wisconsin Football: Underrated 2013 Badger Recruits Who Will Surprise
Regardless of what your favorite resource is for keeping tabs on recruiting, the Wisconsin Badgers didn't rack up any 5-star commits, or many 4-star recruits for that matter. Perhaps that's due to the departure of Bret Bielema, but all things considered, things could have been a lot worse.
The last thing a school as recognized as Wisconsin that was gearing up for its third consecutive Rose Bowl appearance was expecting was its coach to leave on his own accord, so to go out and find a coach of Gary Andersen's caliber less than two months away from national signing day was excellent work by athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Andersen rewarded Alvarez by clinging on to most of Bielema's recruits—although he did lose Tyler Foreman and Marcus Ball. Still, he managed to add a few surprises along the way.
There is some vastly underrated talent in the 2013 class, and while they obviously have room for growth, these three recruits will surprise people down the road in Wisconsin and across the country.
Defensive back Jakkarie Washington received a whopping two stars from ESPN.com, and yet he could end up being one of the top recruits of Gary Andersen's first class.
He's 5'11", which is pretty good size for a cornerback, and he will almost undoubtedly redshirt in order to get bigger—he's only 170 pounds—and develop his skills. That's quite fine with Andersen, who clearly sees something special in Washington after recruiting him out of Everett High School in Massachusetts, an area often ignored for high school talent.
According to Dave Heller of JSOnline.com, recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said Washington's high school coach told him Washington could become an All-American with just a little more experience, and by giving him that extra year, he should benefit greatly.
Lemming also noted that he was a good cover corner thanks to his speed, so it's just a matter of Washington working on route reading and studying tendencies of the receiver and quarterback in general, because he has the ability and athleticism to become something great.
For a 2-star recruit, the upside with Washington is almost through the roof and he is someone folks should keep an eye out for in a few years.
Out of Pewaukee High School, T.J. Watt told Andersen he wanted to be the best Watt brother of them all. If that became a reality, Wisconsin probably wouldn't mind.
Watt can essentially do it all, playing quarterback and becoming an all-conference performer at the position his senior year due to injuries. He was also a two-way player, lining up at linebacker, but he was recruited as a tight end, where he caught 27 passes for 505 yards and three scores his junior year. Andersen said he even had a desire to turn him into a defensive end like his older brother.
Seems like there are plenty of options for the coaching staff to weigh with the 3-star recruit (via ESPN.com), but for now, we'll assume Watt plays out his career at Madison as a tight end. He already has an advantage on the rest of the 2013 class because of a guy named J.J. Watt, and his other brother Derek currently starts at fullback for the Badgers, so their guidance and advice should benefit T.J. in the long run.
We're not saying that just because his last name is Watt that he'll turn into an All-American, but his ability to adapt to different positions and have immediate success only bodes well for his future. That willingness to do whatever the coaches want will have a lasting impression and Watt should be put in a position to succeed as a result.
In high school, Hayden Biegel looked more like a tight end than an offensive lineman, and he even went out for a pass here and there. But at 6'6", he has the prototypical height for a Wisconsin offensive tackle, and the only issue is that Biegel has to put on a ton more weight.
Like Washington, that probably means that the 245-pound Biegel is in line for a redshirt, which is a path many Badger linemen have taken in the past. There were a couple other offensive linemen rated ahead of Biegel (a 3-star according to ESPN.com) in the 2013 recruiting class of Wisconsin, but that appears to be a result of already being developed size-wise and being more college-ready.
The plus side with Biegel's small stature for an O-lineman is his excellent mobility, so as long as his frame is able to handle all the weight he'll be asked to endure while maintaining that ability to move, he could develop into a starting tackle by his junior season.
After all, he is a Wisconsin-born offensive lineman, and they grow them pretty big. Now he just has to eat—a lot.