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UW FOOTBALL

2023 linebacker Blake Nichelson talks Wisconsin offer; Bobby Engram on landing 2023 quarterback

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chryst photo 8-14

Coach Paul Chryst and UW do not have a scholarship commitment at quarterback for 2023 class.

Blake Nichelson whittled down his recruiting process to a trio of programs. Then the University of Wisconsin began showing interest.

Nichelson, a Manteca, California, native, announced the offer from the Badgers in a July 20 tweet. He admitted their opportunity altered his trajectory for a decision date.

“It kind of did to be honest,” Nichelson said last week. “I was kind of trying to commit pretty early right before the season, but then I kind of changed my decision.”

247Sports and ESPN both rate Nichelson as a four-star recruit, and Rivals designates him as a high three-star prospect. He has previously disclosed offers from several Pac-12 schools, including Arizona State, California, Southern Cal, UCLA, Utah, Washington and Washington State. Coach Scott Frost and Nebraska also extended an offer as well.

His July 4 tweet unveiled his final three schools as Florida State, Oregon and UCLA. UW’s contact started recently, according to Nichelson, and an offer came shortly thereafter.

“I was kind of surprised because it was kind of just like out of nowhere, to be honest,” Nichelson said. “I really wasn’t expecting it. They really didn’t talk to me until late this summer, so it’s really just surprising to me and just another option to look into.”

UW currently holds two scholarship commits at linebacker spots for its class of 2023. Batavia, Illinois, native Tyler Jansey projects to play at inside linebacker at the next level while Pennsylvania product Jordan Mayer is expected to find a home out on the edge at outside linebacker when he arrives. The Badgers missed out on four-star standout Tackett Curtis, who verbally committed to USC last month.

Nichelson confirmed UW outside linebackers coach Bobby April III has been the main person keeping in touch, with frequency of contact being around a weekly basis. The recruit, whose Twitter profile lists him at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, said the Badgers are in the mix with his top three schools as he believes UW can develop him.

The California native thinks all four programs can help players grow, for that matter, and the quartet also keeps in contact with him, which is an important factor in his recruitment. Two teams in particular, Florida State and Oregon, stand out the most at the moment because of their almost daily communication.

“Just constantly, seeing how my day was,” Nichelson said. “And it’s not just all about football. It’s kind of a more personal talk as well.”

Nichelson currently does not have any plans to travel to any of the schools he is considering. Has UW talked to him about a potential visit?

“Yeah, they kind of did for a little bit, just talking about it all,” Nichelson said.

His timeline sits undecided as to when he could commit.

“I feel like I’m pretty interested in them,” Nichelson said about the Badgers. “I feel like I just would want to get on campus and kind of experience everything before I kind of make them a potential pick like that.”

Engram on finding QBin 2023 class: ‘We’ll get our guy’

UW currently sits with 13 scholarship commits for its 2023 class, but coach Paul Chryst and his staff do not boast a projected quarterback within those baker’s dozen of future players.

The program has seen its previously offered prep signal callers in this recruiting cycle — Brayden Dorman (Arizona), Avery Johnson (Kansas State), Lincoln Kienholz (Washington), J.J. Kohl (Iowa State) and Dante Moore (Oregon) — all decide to play Power Five football elsewhere. Kienholz took an official visit to UW in June, the only quarterback to do so from the 2023 class.

Building relationships with players at this key position often starts much earlier, and no new offers have been disclosed by recruits. Offensive coordinator Bobby Engram’s discussion with reporters Saturday appears to show that the program has some players on its radar, however.

“I think you go through the process like you normally would and you don’t rush anything,” Engram said. “I think we have some good talent identified that we’re going to look to do a senior eval on. We’ll get our guy.”

UW has offered five quarterbacks for the class of 2024, according to both 247Sports and Rivals: C.J. Carr, Mabrey Mettauer, Dante Reno, Walker White and Michael Van Buren. Carr and Reno already announced commitments to Notre Dame and South Carolina, respectively. All five are rated as four-star recruits at the least by the recruiting services, with Carr being designated as a five-star prospect by 247Sports composite rankings.

Quick recruiting notes

  • State high schools start their football seasons this week. 2023 UW running back commit Nate White and Milwaukee Rufus King will play Bay View on Thursday evening at Pulaski Stadium in Milwaukee. Walk-on defensive end commit Will McDonald kicks off his senior year when Hudson travels to Marshfield on Thursday.
  • Three 2024 recruits from within the state who hold offers from UW also will be worth watching. Running back Corey Smith and offensive lineman Donovan Harbour start their season on the road when Catholic Memorial plays at Franklin on Friday. Middleton, which boasts projected linebacker Sam Pilof, will see Bay Port travel from Green Bay for an intriguing game Thursday evening.
  • Out-of-state commits Jace Arnold (Marietta, Ga.), Collin Dixon (Tallmadge, Ohio), Trech Kekahuna (Bishop Gorman; Las Vegas, Nevada) and Jaquez Keyes (Ironton, Ohio) also begin their senior seasons this week.
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