Gary Andersen Finishing First Class at Wisconsin on High Note

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IJanuary 28, 2014

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen praises his defense as they come off the field during the first half of the Capital One Bowl NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

When Gary Andersen was hired at the University of Wisconsin, he made a very loud statement about what recruiting was going to be all about. The Badgers weren't going to back down from anyone in any recruiting battle, according to Andersen at his introductory press conference:

Wisconsin, the football program's recruiting, in my opinion, is obviously very well respected throughout the country, and as a staff and as a football program, we should be able to get into any recruiting fight that we want to get ourselves into. There's nowhere you can go in the country when you're a football player that you can't understand the logo of the University of Wisconsin. That's very important for everybody to understand.

At that point it was all talk, and if we've heard coaches say those words once, we've heard it a thousand times. 

The proof of that actually being true only comes in the recruiting results in the following years. 

But if Andersen's first recruiting results at Wisconsin are any indication, it may be more than just coach speak happening for the Badgers, and it's all because of how his first real class is finishing up. 

Over the course of last weekend, Wisconsin got two verbal commitments at the one position of need—cornerback. They secured commitments from 3-star CBs Cornellius Sturghill and Derrick Tindal, according to Evan Flood of Badger247. 

Tindal flipped to Badgers recently
Tindal flipped to Badgers recently247sports

As we stand here right now, the Badgers have the No. 30-ranked class, according to UW may not be done yet, either. 

Wisconsin is still on a few prospects, like 247sports composite 3-star wide receiver George Rushing, 4-star cornerback Chris Lammons and 4-star offensive lineman Kaleb McGary

Finishing off the class with those three would put the Badgers well into the Top 25 of the 247sports composite rankings, something that has hasn't happened since the start of the team rankings. 

Wisconsin also lived up to Andersen's words, as they got in on some major battles and hung in to the bitter end with two of the most sought-after recruits in the country.

We're talking about 5-star running back Joe Mixon and 4-star wide receiver Jamil Kamara. The last time the Badgers were in on the hat dance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl would've been the first.

The other important aspect of this first full recruiting class is Wisconsin's ability to avoid the flip of committed players, while also doing it to other schools.

Wisconsin took 4-star athlete Dareian Watkins away from Northwestern, while also flipping Tindal from Indiana. The coaching staff has also staved off many teams, per Badger247 (subscription required), including Florida, who was sniffing around rising 3-star wide receiver Krenwick Sanders and defensive lineman Jeremy Patterson (subscription required). 

While it's just one year, Andersen and his staff are putting actions to the words spoken at his introductory press conference from the very beginning, and that's a good sign for the future of the Badger program.

No longer are the Badgers reactionaries; instead they are aggressively going after targets, which is a major change in what fans, coaches and others know UW to be about in the past. 

The fact that Wisconsin will be waiting until national signing day to hear its name called speaks volumes of where this program is on the recruiting trail. 

National signing day at Wisconsin had very little excitement—other than confirming what was already known—over the years. That won't be the case this time around. 

Any new coach's first real class speaks volumes about where the program is heading, and with a strong finish for Wisconsin, it appears Andersen is poised to live up to his own words. 

Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @andycoppens.


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