Two important trends continued for the University of Wisconsin football program when offensive lineman Joe Brunner orally committed to the 2022 recruiting class last month.
First, UW continued a recent run of being able to attract four- and five-star talent, something it must do to close the gap between it and the top tier of college football. Brunner, a consensus four-star prospect from Milwaukee and one of the top tackle recruits in the country, is the 12th four- or five- star prospect UW has landed in the past three cycles, per 247Sports’ composite rankings.
Brunner’s commitment also showed UW’s wall around the state was holding strong. Brunner is the top-ranked recruit in the state by 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals. UW has secured a commitment from the state’s top player in each of the past six cycles and eight of the past nine.
Since Paul Chryst took over in 2015, he’s missed on only one top in-state recruit — offensive lineman Ben Bredeson in 2016 — and he’s had a strong record in securing the top five in-state prospects in his tenure. Chryst and his staffs have brought in 25 of the 35 players ranked in the top five in-state recruits per 247Sports’ composite rankings in his first seven cycles.
They could increase those numbers to as high as 29 of 40 if UW is successful in recruiting four-star in-state linemen Isaac Hamm (Sun Prairie), Carson Hinzman (St. Croix Central) and Billy Schrauth (St. Mary’s Springs). Milwaukee King tight end Jerry Cross, the No. 4 player in the state, has orally committed to Penn State.
Barry Alvarez made recruiting the state a priority at UW when he arrived as coach in 1990, and that mentality was imparted on Chryst, who worked with Alvarez as an assistant or as a coach in his athletic department for more than 14 years.
“I absolutely believe in it,” Chryst said of the importance of in-state recruiting. “Each year, you’ve got to work at that. I know when coach (Alvarez) was at Iowa, we had a lot of players that left the state and were good players elsewhere.
“When I was an assistant for coach Alvarez and coming back, you take a look at it, there's a lot of really good football players from this state. For us to be the best team we can be — I still believe it's true what coach said a long time ago — you’ve got to start with getting the best kids in-state. Still believe it's true. Certainly was a big part of what he believes in and certainly learned that lesson quickly from him.”
UW has landed the top player in the state in 17 of the past 21 recruiting cycles, as far back as 247Sports’ composite rankings were created. Eight of those top-ranked players were offensive linemen, seven of which chose UW, helping to reinforce the Badgers’ pipeline of NFL blockers. Six were defensive lineman, with UW landing four.
The four No. 1 in-state recruits who didn’t commit were running back Brian Calhoun in 2002, defensive lineman Rhyan Anderson in 2004, defensive end A.J. Natter in 2013 and Bredeson.
Calhoun chose Colorado out of high school as the Badgers already looked to have a workhorse back in Anthony Davis, who had 1,466 yards as a freshman in 2001. Calhoun transferred to UW after two seasons and led the 2005 squad in rushing with 1,636 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Anderson enrolled at Miami, which was competing for national championships at the time while UW was going through a difficult stretch, going 5-7, 8-6 and 7-6 as it recruited Anderson. He didn’t play much for the Hurricanes and eventually transferred to New Mexico State. Nebraska’s early work on Natter helped make him a Cornhusker, but he only played in 11 college games in four years.
Bredeson was the biggest miss of top-ranked recruits for the Badgers. He went to Michigan and earned multiple All-Big Ten Conference honors before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
In the 20 cycles between 2002 and 2021, the Badgers have secured commitments from 70 of 100 players ranked in the top five in the state. They’ve also been spurned by very few players who went on to strong college careers.
From 2002-2014, only two of those players — Beaver Dam’s R.J. Shelton in 2013 (Michigan State) and Milwaukee offensive lineman Brandon Brooks in 2007 (Miami-Ohio) — went on to earn all-conference recognition.
In the Chryst era, four players have done so: 2015 defensive lineman Robert Windsor (Penn State), 2016 quarterback Nate Stanley (Iowa) and 2018 defensive lineman Will McDonald IV (Iowa State).
Chryst tried to land Stanley after being hired as the Badgers’ head coach, but Stanley had orally committed to the Hawkeyes a month prior.
Get to know the Wisconsin Badgers' 2022 football recruiting class
Myles Burkett became the Badgers’ first Class of 2022 recruit when he announced his decision in January.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Franklin is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and Rivals, and showed great mobility and arm strength in his junior season. He battled back from a knee injury as a sophomore to throw for 1,236 and 11 touchdowns and rush for 180 yards and a score in a pandemic-shortened season.
He’s the first in-state quarterback to earn a scholarship out of high school since 2011.
As his recruiting stock started to rise, the Badgers were able to secure a commitment from Fall Rivers’ Barrett Nelson in late June.
The offensive tackle was 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds after his junior season, and his quickness off the ball has made him a load on both the offensive and defensive lines. Nelson is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and a two-star on Rivals.
He had offers from Iowa State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue and others before choosing UW.
Nelson’s father, Todd, was a Badgers offensive lineman in the late 1980s, and his brother, Jack, is currently an offensive lineman for UW.
After wowing UW coaches at a pair of camps, Monroe tight end JT Seagreaves accepted a scholarship offer in late June.
Seagreaves is an intriguing prospect for the Badgers — at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, he has the physical frame to grow into an imposing tight end, and he possesses sprinter speeds. He’s averaged more than 21 yards per catch each of the past two seasons and was starting to gain more Power Five conference interested when he committed to UW.
Seagreaves is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and a two-star according to Rivals.
In multiple trips to UW’s campus in June, Cade Yacamelli was called “a football player” by UW coaches rather than locking him into a position. He earned a scholarship offer after an impressive camp workout and accepted it in late June.
The consensus three-star athlete was starting to earn more recruiting attention from Power Five schools when he accepted the Badgers’ offer. UW was the first Power Five offer for the 6-foot, 200-pounder. He’s played receiver, running back and defensive back in high school, but likely projects as a receiver or defensive back in college.
The Penn Trafford High School product has good quickness and change-of-direction that make him dangerous with the ball in his hands.
When A’Khoury Lyde accepted a UW scholarship offer in late June, he became the first player on the defensive side of the ball to commit in the 2022 class.
Lyde (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), a consensus three-star recruit, has strong ball skills and a willingness to hit that separates him from other cornerbacks.
The Wayne, New Jersey, native is the eighth-ranked player in his state, per Rivals.
The Badgers landed a tall, speedy receiver when Tommy McIntosh committed in late June.
The DeWitt, Michigan, native stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 200 pounds. He uses his body to shield off defenders at the point of the catch and does well catching the ball away from his body. His Hudl page lists a 4.47-second 40-yard dash time, and he has breakaway speed when he gets in the open field and can use his long strides.
A consensus three-star wide receiver chose the Badgers over offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
UW beefed up its defensive front by landing defensive tackle Curtis Neal.
Neal — a 6-foot-2, 310-pounder — had more than 25 scholarship offers, and reportedly was deciding between UW and Ohio State at the end of his recruiting process. Neal is a product of William Amos Hough High School in Cornelius, North Carolina, where the Badgers found receiver Devin Chandler in last year’s cycle.
Neal, with his size and strength, likely fits best as a nose tackle in the Badgers’ 3-4 scheme.
Jim Leonhard may have found another rangy, smart cornerback to add to his secondary in Avyonne Jones, who committed in to UW in late June.
Jones — who hails from Southlake, Texas — was on campus the weekend of June 18 for an official visit and had narrowed an extensive offer list to UW and California. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back was previously committed to Oklahoma State, but retracted that commitment in late May.
With good recovery speed and a good feel for getting his hands between a receiver’s at the point of the catch, the consensus three-star prospect is a good fit for what UW cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat said he wants from his position group.
The Badgers landed the top-ranked player in Wisconsin for the sixth consecutive recruiting class when Joe Brunner committed the last week of June.
Brunner — a 6-foot-6, 300-pound prospect from Milwaukee who attends Whitefish Bay High School — is a consensus four-star recruit and a top-10 offensive tackle in the nation.
He held at least 16 Power Five scholarship offers, including ones from a majority of the Big Ten Conference, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon and Tennessee.
VINNY ANTHONY II
Receiver Vinny Anthony II — a consensus three-star prospect from Louisville, Kentucky — joined UW's class on June 30.
Possessing a good burst of speed and long arms that extend his catch radius, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Anthony has a chance to play across the formation as a receiver.
Anthony chose UW over Cincinnati and Duke.
Austin Brown — who hails from Johnston City, Illinois, a small town outside of Carbondale — was considering offers from Boston College, Illinois, Michigan and Northwestern before choosing UW. The consensus three-star prospect had 21 known scholarship offers.
Brown committed to UW on the Fourth of July.
At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, he has a good frame already and his high school film shows a willingness to lay big hits and attack blockers. He also plays quarterback for Johnston City.