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Why I’m Bullish on the Wisconsin Football Program

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Wisconsin Football Head Coach Luke Fickell

I have, on more than one occasion, been accused of being overly hyperbolic. I usually embrace this but I also try to be as realistic as possible. My coverage of the Wisconsin football program roughly coincides with Luke Fickell’s hiring. I even wrote my audition piece on why the hiring was a good one.

As we move into the third month of the hire, I thought now would be a good time to step back and objectively look at things that Fickell has done with and for the program.

Maintain your house

The air of uncertainty oftentimes makes incoming recruits skittish and potentially leave. That’s why a new coaches first order of business is usually to reach out to the recruiting class and let them know where they stand. In an article written by The Athletics Jesse Temple, Fickell did just that by calling QB commit Cole LaCrue.

Of course there was some loss, as incoming recruits often develop relationships with the coaches that recruit them. Wisconsin football had commitments from 14 players and were able to maintain 8 of them, providing a solid foundation for Fickell as he added onto his house.

Assemble a quality staff

Many Wisconsin football fans were disappointed when Jim Leonhard decided to cut ties with the program after Fickell was hired. Had they known the all-star staff that he would be assembling, I’m certain most feelings would have been assuaged.

Every successful organization has a rock-solid base. Fickell created his base by bringing over the best coaches from his staff at Cincinnati. One of those hires that is widely overlooked but critical to the overall team’s success is the hiring of Brady Collins as the Director the Strength and Conditioning department. Any top-flight program has a world-class strength and conditioning department and Wisconsin football just upgraded theirs.

Wisconsin football has a new defensive coordinator in Mike Tressel. The nephew of ex-Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, Mike is a valuable addition for many reasons. He knows the Big Ten landscape, having coached at Michigan State for 13 years, first as a linebacker/special teams and then linebacker/co-defensive coordinator for 3 seasons before assuming full control over the defense for 2 seasons. He joined Fickell’s staff at Cincinnati as DC/LB in 2021 and now follows him to UW. His prior experience in the Big Ten will be invaluable for recruiting and knowing tendencies of the different programs.

The star of this list is bringing in Phil Longo as offensive coordinator/quarterback coach. Much has already been written about this particular hire but this key addition could possibly be the best assistant coaching hire in the off-season.

Start constructing the Wisconsin football roster

To say Luke Fickell has been active in the transfer portal would be an understatement of epic proportions. Not only has he managed to keep the majority of the players already committed, he has brought in multiple former 4-star recruits from other programs. Programs that undergo a coaching change are often labeled as unstable. The fact that Luke has been able to draw such a large number of highly talented players speaks volumes of the way he’s perceived in the football community.

Next year’s quarterback room will have so many stars that it’ll look like a mini-galaxy for meetings. Former 4-star QB Tanner Mordecai, who threw for over 7,000 yards and 70 TDs in just 2 seasons as a starter at SMU, comes to Wisconsin football for his final year of eligibility.

Another former 4-star QB joining an already talented room is Nick Evers, coming in from Oklahoma. Evers is a true dual-threat QB and arrives with 4 years of eligibility remaining. The last highly touted transfer is former 4-star QB Braedyn Locke, coming to Madison from Mississippi State and also has 4 years of eligibility remaining. The addition of Evers and Locke gives Wisconsin the #9 and #22 QB recruits from the recruiting class of 2022. Not even mentioned was the fact that Chase Wolf is coming back for his 6th year.

The wide-receiving corps recently got a huge boost when former 4-star USC’s C.J. Williams announced he was coming to the Wisconsin football program. Oklahoma State’s Bryson Green left Stilwell to come to Madison. In 2 years of playing for Ok. State, he hauled in 48 catches for 723 yards and 7 TDs. Following Fickell from Cincinnati are WRs Will Pauling and Quincy Burroughs.

Excitement and conclusion

During a 3 week stretch at the end of December through the first two weeks of January, the Wisconsin football program was getting so much press that the uninformed could easily have thought that the Badgers were in the college football playoffs.  Colorado got the high-profile hire of “Neon Deion” Sanders, yet the only QB to move to Boulder was Deion’s son, Shedeur.

Luke Fickell’s hiring is a beautiful example of substance over glitz. This is shown in the number of high-quality transfers since the Fickell took over the program. Deciding what college football program they want to play for is often these young men’s first important decision in their lives. Deciding that they want to have their skills molded by Luke and his staff shows just how highly the Wisconsin football coaches are thought of.

A wise man said that these moves are meaningless if they don’t produce victories on the field. That statement is 100% accurate. But part of the off-season is about generating excitement about the upcoming campaign.

As a fanatical follower for college football for 4 decades, I can honestly say that the last time I remember Wisconsin football garnering this much media attention, and love, was during the days when Ron Dayne was shredding Big Ten defenses.

I’m making my second bold prediction (the first was that Steven Crowl would get a double-double against Penn State in their most recent match-up which came true) is that Wisconsin football makes the CFB playoffs in the next 3 years. What a great time for a Badger fan!!


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Former Wisconsin Football RB Named to CFB Hall of Fame Ballot

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Sep 15, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) during the game against the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Utah State 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. –The 2024 College Football Hall of Fame ballot has been released, and a Wisconsin football legend is among the names on the list.

Montee Ball, who was with Wisconsin from 2010-2012, was among 78 players and nine coaches selected for the ballot.

Ball is among the most decorated players in Wisconsin history. The Badger legend received two first-team All-American nominations, along with winning the Doak Walker Award. He also received Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2011.

Ball placed himself in the NCAA record books when he tied with Barry Sanders for the most single-season TDs in NCAA history with 39 during the 2011 season and secured the NCAA record for most single-season points with 236. The Badger legend is also the only player in history to rush for 100 yards in three straight Rose Bowl games.

Ball amassed 5,255 yards and 79 touchdowns throughout his three years at UW. His best statistical season came in 2011 when the Wisconsin legend rushed for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns. On top of that, Ball hauled in 24 receptions for 306 yards and six touchdowns in the same season.

Denver would select the former Badger in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, where he spent two years as a Bronco.

Other Wisconsin Football HOF Representatives 

The Wisconsin football program currently has four players and one coach in the CFB Hall of Fame. Barry Alvarez was the first Badger to enter the HOF when he was selected in 2010. Ron Dayne (2013), Tim Krumrie (2016), Joe Thomas (2019), and Troy Vincent (2023) round out the rest of the list.

Ball stands out in the 2024 class due to the sheer volume of his accolades. When voting wraps up, I expect the Wisconsin legend to be among those inducted.


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Wisconsin Football Lands 2024 Three-Star Interior Offensive Lineman

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Wisconsin badgers football

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football program has picked up its fourth commit in the last three days, with three-star offensive lineman Ryan Cory coming on board.

The news comes just an hour after four-star OT Kevin Heywood announced his commitment to Wisconsin. 

Cory took to Twitter to announce his commitment.

Wisconsin beat out offers from Pitt, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Oregon, Rutgers, and many more. Cory was set to visit Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt in the coming weeks. 

According to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite, Cory is the No. 778 player in the nation, the No. 50 interior offensive lineman, and the No. 24 player in Pennsylvania.

What Ryan Cory brings to the Wisconsin football program

Cory is coming off a remarkable junior season. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman received First-Team All-Conference honors and earned a state championship win.

Looking at his film, there’s a lot to like about his upside. Cory is fearless in creating contact against defenders at the second level while putting out some key blocks for his tailback. His hand speed and placement also stand out.

In pass-blocking reps, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman is a brick wall. Cory can easily contain power moves from opposing linemen with his strength. He rarely gets off balance and consistently creates leverage against defenders. 

Cory will be an excellent depth piece for the offensive line while he works on his craft. If the Pennsylvania native can refine his technique a bit more, he could be an impactful lineman for Wisconsin.

Cory joins Kevin Heywood and Derek Jensen as linemen to commit to UW. The Wisconsin football program now holds 12 commitments in the 2024 cycle.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter @JakeJMaier.

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Wisconsin Football Lands 2024 Four-Star Offensive Lineman Commit

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Wisconsin football stadium: Camp Randall
Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers mascot Bucky Badger prior to the game against the Washington State Cougars at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football program has picked up a commitment from one of the nation’s premier offensive linemen.

Four-star OT Kevin Heywood took to Twitter to announce his commitment to Wisconsin.

UW beat out offers from some juggernaut programs, including Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, Michigan, USC, and many more.

According to the 247Sports Composite, Heywood is the No. 266 player in the nation, the No. 25 OT, and the No. 5 player in Pennsylvania.

The four-star prospect began his official visit to Wisconsin on June 2nd. He was slated to take officials to Kentucky, Auburn, and USC in the coming weeks. Instead, Heywood decided to commit to the Wisconsin football program on the same weekend.

The Badgers missed out on multiple in-state offensive linemen to Penn State early in the 2024 cycle. Because of that, securing multiple offensive linemen quickly became a priority for UW, and they were able to poach a top player out of Pennsylvania.

What Kevin Heywood brings to the Wisconsin football program

The first thing that jumps out for Heywood is his frame. Standing at 6-foot-7, 280-pound, Heywood stands out in his class, and he uses his size well. He consistently gets his hands at pad level and is able to drive defenders off of the line of scrimmage.

The Pennsylvania native thrives in pass pro. With his size, he’s a brick wall on the offensive front who can easily stop rushers in their tracks.

Heywood is a prototypical Wisconsin offensive lineman. His skill set could make him an immediate difference-maker on UW’s offensive front.

With the commitment, the Wisconsin football program holds 11 commits in the 2024 cycle. Heywood joins in-state OT Derek Jensen as the sole offensive line commits in the 2024 cycle.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter. Also, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here. Additionally, like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. Also, you can follow Jake Maier on Twitter @JakeJMaier.

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