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Wisconsin Football Found an Unheralded Gem in the 2024 Recruiting Class

Wisconsin football has improved drastically on the recruiting front, but they usually don’t get the athletic freaks like the blue-blood schools…until now.



Wisconsin football head coach Luke Fickell
Dec 27, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second half of the 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Wisconsin football program has a long-standing tradition of finding and developing unheralded recruits into all-conference caliber athletes. 

College football is and will always be an uneven playing field that favors the programs willing to spend the most money — that’s the reality of the NIL world we live in. 

But every now and then — a recruit from a small town — or better yet — a state those top-tier programs won’t bother recruiting slips through the cracks — and finds their way to the Badgers. And when they do — those players with the physical gifts, paired with the work ethic and culture of what it means to play at UW, pair in a way that almost assuredly will produce a playmaker. 

In the 2024 recruiting cycle — the Wisconsin football program found that player in three-star outside linebacker Thomas Heiberger out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Wisconsin Football Found a Gem to Develop in the 2024 Recruiting Class.  

I firmly believe if Wisconsin football commit Thomas Heiberger lived anywhere other than South Dakota — he’d be a surefire four-star prospect, given his incredible athletic tools.

According to the industry-generated 247Sports composite rankings, Heiberger is the No. 477 player in the 2024 recruiting class, the No. 45 LB in the country, and the No. 2 player in South Dakota.

Heiberger chose UW over offers from Illinois, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Purdue, Stanford, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Washington, and Utah.

The Jefferson High School standout checks all of the boxes for the Badgers when drawing up the ideal measurables for a prototype EDGE rusher. Heiberger has a 39-inch vertical leap, can broad jump 10 feet, 7 inches, and runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash–all of which you can’t teach.

He’s a freak — and when you pair a giant moldable ball of clay like Heiberger with coachability and refined technique — you often get a damn good football player.

“They’ve got a plan for Wisconsin football,” Heiberger said on The Camp. “They’re going to be competing for Big Ten championships. I truly believe that. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.”

Final Thoughts

Thomas Heiberger has a frame that suggests Wisconsin football can pack on plenty of good weight to play on the edge. Heiberger’s unique blend of size, length, speed, and twitchiness allows him to be disruptive at the line of scrimmage.

Heiberger is the type of player a school like Wisconsin should always take a chance on because his best days are assuredly ahead of him. His upside as a pass-rusher is unlimited, but it might take a few years before he’s ready to see the field. 

Nobody knows how a player will pan out when evaluating recruits — but when you watch the tape — I’m always willing to bet on the recruiting with the freak measurables because they have a larger margin for error. 

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Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author and the Owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.