Wisconsin Controls Home State With '14 Class
By Marco Scola
Every college pays close attention to national signing day, the proverbial “Christmas morning,” when high school seniors sign a National Letter of Intent. But in Madison, Wisc., fans paid special attention to the 2014 class after head coach Gary Anderson’s first full year.
Twenty-five players signed their letter of intent or enrolled to Wisconsin, while five more will walk on. Of those 25, three are listed as four-star recruits and 20 are listed as three-star recruits on 247sports.com, a site dedicated to college football recruiting.
The class is led by four-star recruits D.J. Gillins of Jacksonville, Fla., a dual-threat quarterback ranked seventh in the nation at his position; Dareian Watkins of Galion, Ohio, an overall athlete who will find his role on the team come spring ball; and Jaden Gault, a hometown boy from Monona Grove High School in Madison and an offensive tackle.
Wisconsin’s biggest victory came in its home state as they locked up four of the top five players according to 24/7 Sports: Gault, offensive guard George Panos, defensive end Billy Hirschfeld and defensive end Conor Sheehy. The Badgers also signed five more of the Top 25 players in the state in linebacker Dominic Cizaukas (11th), offensive tackle Beau Benzschawel (14th), offensive tackle Jacob Maxwell (19th), and linebackers Matt Austin and Justin Schweitzer (24th and 25th).
Anderson’s in-state approach proved to be a success in 2014, but his staff also impressed in non-pipeline states such as Florida, home to seven members of this year's class. Three recruits are from Georgia and South Carolina, two from Utah, one from Maryland and Massachusetts and one from Tennessee by way of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As has been tradition in Mad City, the Badgers reloaded on the offensive line with Gault, Panos, and Benzshcawel, but they also added key pieces for the future of the defense with Hirschfeld and Sheehy, as well as quarterback with Gillins.
Overall, 24/7 Sports ranked Wisconsin’s 2014 class 33rd in the nation and fifth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State (third in the nation), Michigan (20th), Penn State (24th) and Michigan State (25th).