Gary Andersen has made it loud and clear that he isn't afraid to recruit junior college athletes to the University of Wisconsin.
This concept is new to Badger fans, as bringing in JUCO recruits never even entered the thought process of Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema. Madison has high academic standards, and the perception is that kids are at a junior college because of poor grades, or better yet, poor performance.
But Andersen was a JUCO player himself before moving onto Utah, and that has likely played a key role in his signing of three JUCOs in his first recruiting class at Wisconsin.
Granted, these signings have been based off positional needs, so let's analyze these three commits and break down what we can expect from them after they join the team this summer.
Perhaps the most publicized commitment of Andersen's 2013 class, quarterback Tanner McEvoy already had a cup of coffee at the FBS level with South Carolina, but some legal issues eventually led to his transfer to Arizona Western (h/t ESPN).
That may automatically raise some red flags in Badger land, but McEvoy fits the mold that Andersen is looking for at the quarterback position. He's mobile, as indicated by his No. 1 dual-threat quarterback ranking according to 247Sports, and it's no secret that Andersen wants a QB who can move around.
Once McEvoy arrives this summer, he will become far and away the most mobile quarterback on the Wisconsin roster and instantly be a contender for the starting position this fall. The question will be whether he can get it done in the air, although he did throw for 226.6 yards per game last season to go with 24 TDs and just five INTs.
Time will tell if this success translates to the top level of college football, but the fact that Andersen recruited him gives McEvoy a unique connection to the head coach and could ultimately help him earn the starting job come fall.
Sophomore Joel Stave, who like McEvoy has three years of eligibility remaining, should prove to be McEvoy's stingiest competition. But McEvoy was brought in for a reason—he will almost certainly be on the field at some point and will add a whole new dynamic to the new-look Wisconsin offense.
The Badgers lost a boatload of experience in the secondary following the 2012 season when Marcus Cromartie, Devin Smith and Shelton Johnson all graduated from Wisconsin.
Joining McEvoy on signing day was JUCO safety Donnell Vercher, who appears all but locked into the safety position opposite of senior Dezmen Southward. Vercher played for Fresno City College last season and has two seasons of eligibility remaining, so he will become one of the most experienced members of the secondary upon his arrival.
Vercher intercepted eight passes last season, good for No. 1 among junior college players, so it's apparent he has a nose for the football. He also has great size (6'2" and 205 pounds) and was given a 3-star rating by 247sports.
Considering how the current safety alongside Southward is a converted cornerback in Reggie Mitchell, you have to imagine Vercher has a great shot at starting next season, especially since he was recruited by Andersen. His 2012 campaign at Fresno City should give the Badgers assurance that they have someone who can come in and have a positive impact over the next two years at Madison.
On national signing day, Andersen said he wasn't done adding to the class of 2013, and he stayed true to his word when he brought in yet another JUCO recruit in cornerback Tekeim "T.J." Reynard out of Independence (Kan.) Community College on May 4 (via Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal).
Last season, Reynard intercepted two passes and racked up 88 tackles. At 5'11" and 175 pounds, Reynard doesn't possess blazing speed, but he is an excellent tackler and makes up for a lack of speed with good technique and quick feet.
This commit is bad news for Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton, who were both contending for a starting cornerback job, and so is the following statement from Reynard himself (h/t Dave Heller of JSOnline).
Like McEvoy, Reynard has three years of eligibility remaining, and it will be interesting to see if the supposed guarantee that Andersen and his staff made to T.J. ring true. Either way, bringing Reynard in isn't a terrible idea considering his game experience, which is something just about every corner on Wisconsin's roster lacks.