Wisconsin vs. South Carolina: Whose 2014 Recruiting Class Is Better Right Now?
Wisconsin and South Carolina will duel in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day. The Gamecocks come into the game as the more stable program under Steve Spurrier, while the Badgers are guided by first-year head coach Gary Andersen.
Spurrier is one of the best to do it as a coach and recruiter, but Andersen is also doing well on the recruiting trail. The game should be a physical one, but the real fight is deciding who has the better recruiting class right now.
Wisconsin's 2014 Recruiting Capsule
Wisconsin isn't a sexy school in the recruiting trail. However, the Badgers have been fine with that through the years. Their approach is to get tough and smart football players who have good size. Players get developed well in Madison, which is why the team is always competitive.
Coach Andersen hasn't changed much in his initial season, and it's evident when one examines his 25-man recruiting class. He has gotten eight players from inside his state, while Florida, Georgia, Utah, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Hawaii, Ohio, South Carolina, Massachusetts and Tennessee are also represented.
Wisconsin has 13 commitments on offense, eight on defense, three athletes and one kicker.
South Carolina's 2014 Recruiting Capsule
Coach Spurrier has adapted his offensive philosophy at South Carolina to fit his personnel, as well as to fit the new trend of physical play in the SEC. Spurrier has done a fantastic job of investing in both the offensive and defensive trenches, plus he still knows how to recruit good skill-position players.
The Gamecocks have 16 members in their class, with eight in-state commitments. Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Florida and Kansas also are represented in Spurrier's class.
This group has great balance, as the offensive side of the ball has eight pledges, the defense has seven and there's one athlete.
Wisconsin's Top 2014 Commitments
The Badgers went out and got a talented dual-threat quarterback in 4-star recruit D.J. Gillins. The Florida native is 6'3" and 185 pounds, plus he has a strong arm and good speed.
Conor Sheehy and Billy Hirschfeld are 3-star defensive ends who are good fits for Wisconsin's new 3-4 defense. George Panos, a 3-star guard, should have some great battles in practice with 3-star defensive tackle Jeremy Patterson.
The Badgers' main recruiting priority right now is to keep talented 4-star defensive tackle Craig Evans committed.
South Carolina's Top 2014 Commitments
Donell Stanley could easily be considered the headliner of the Gamecocks' class. At 6'4" and 330 pounds, the 4-star guard has the strength and power to become an All-SEC offensive lineman.
Undersized at 6'0" and 236 pounds, 4-star tight end Kevin Crosby still has the speed and hands to become a dangerous weapon in South Carolina's offense.
The sleeper of the class is 3-star linebacker Joe Blue, while receiver Terry Googer, JUCO defensive end Jhaustin Thomas, safety Darin Smalls and cornerback Al Harris are 3-star prospects who can also lay claim to that honor.
Wisconsin's 2014 Headliner
The top recruit for Wisconsin is 4-star offensive tackle Jaden Gault. He's a terrific prospect who could become an elite left tackle for the Badgers.
Gault, who is 6'7" and 305 pounds, is an in-state commitment for Wisconsin who has the skills to be fantastic. He has good quickness out of his stance at the snap, plus he has the length to keep defensive linemen from getting inside his body.
Gault has great strength to drive defenders out of holes, but he can also seal, pin, down-block and scoop to the second level.
As a pass-protector, he can deep-set with agility and athleticism in space. Gault doesn't panic versus quick defensive ends, as he knows he can wash them around the pocket or slide inside to stymie their progress. He'll anchor when he has to, plus he can use his hands to counter.
South Carolina's 2014 Headliner
While the Gamecocks have several recruits who were considered for this slot, 4-star receiver Shaq Davidson gets the nod.
At the 6'0" and 170 pounds, the Palmetto State native has good speed and quickness to make plays on all three levels of the field. Davidson is a smooth athlete who slides around physical cornerbacks at the line to shoot into his routes.
He doesn't show a great deal of hesitation or tightness getting in and out of his breaks, plus he has the vision and awareness to settle into voids. Davidson has natural ball skills, evidenced by him consistently using his mitts to attack the ball when catching in crowds.
He transfers quickly up the field after the catch when he can, plus he has impressive elusiveness with the ball in space. Davidson also has value as a kick returner.
This can easily be called a tie, but a winner was determined after splitting some hairs. With four 4-star pledges in its 25-man class, Wisconsin should be proud of its group.
However, with five 4-star commitments in its 16-man class, South Carolina has better quality. The Gamecocks have the superior class, but not by much.
2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map
Wisconsin and South Carolina both have commitments on the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map!