On Wednesday afternoon, Paul Chryst addressed the media for National Signing Day, as the Badgers added 25 new scholarship players and six preferred walk-ons.
“I think the thing that gets lost in today,” Chryst said, “[is that] this is a big day for these kids. It was fun talking to them today and the days building up. Not every kid has the opportunities to play in college.”
The new class hails from across the country, with a heavy focus on the East Coast and the Midwest. Hailed as one of the most successful classes in Wisconsin Football history, the new recruits are headlined by four-star RB Sam Brodner (Glen Ellyn, IL), four-star DL Garrett Rand (Chandler, AZ), four-star OL Cole Van Lanen (Green Bay, WI), and many others.
“If you can go out of state and find a connection to Wisconsin, it’s important,” Chryst said. “But going out East is important to us.”
Potential questions were raised once former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda departed for LSU as to whether or not the team would lose any recruits, but Chryst addressed the reason why this didn’t happen.
“I think it goes back to the fit,” he said. “Certainly the football…starts the relationship. But in the end we want them to pick Wisconsin for that and so many more reasons. It’s not that they didn’t have a lot of options – it wasn’t a group that we sensed there would be a lot of drama at the end. There were no surprises today.”
Many notable names graced the list of recruits as the Badgers added depth at many positions. Brodner, perhaps one of the most talented of the new class, looks to add a lot of depth to the running back position that has been plagued with injuries over the last season.
“Sam’s a guy that we had in camp, and we were talking about whether we’d take him as a linebacker, whether we’d take him as a running back,” Chryst said. “Our job is to help develop these kids. I like what we added with Sam.”
“When we started watching film, we compared all the other guys to him,” RB Coach John Settle said. “He was like the benchmark. I think we ended up getting a steal.” On Brodner getting playing time this year, Settle said that anything’s a possibility when injuries are accounted for.
Another player of note is DL Isaiahh Loudermilk (Howard, KS). Back at home, Loudermilk played 8-man football, so the jump to the Big Ten may be a bit of a transition for him.
“It was pretty neat to see,” said Chryst. “His size, his athleticism – it didn’t matter whether there was eight or 11. As far as linemen, I think there’s more than enough where you get an accurate evaluation. He’s a young, exciting prospect – he’s a puppy.”
Additionally, two big names joined the team early this spring – QB Kare’ Lyles (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and ILB Dallas Jeanty (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Lyles, who will add depth to the quarterback position, will be joined by his brother – OL Kayden Lyles – in Madison next year. And Jeanty’s story, a truly remarkable one, can be read here.
Chryst had high words of praise for the two. “We’re glad to have them. The thing with both those two…Kare’ and Dallas were two of our leaders,” Chryst said. “[Dallas] is the one that connects everyone. He’s an unbelievable person and all of the players know him and talk to him. He’s got a little bit of the heartbeat of this class.”
Offensive Coordinator Joe Rudolph added that Lyles “has a really good arm – he can let it fly and he was in a program where they made him know a lot.”
The Badgers currently sit at 37th in ESPN’s RecruitingNation Class Rankings. Florida State, LSU, and Alabama round out the top three.
Luke Schaetzel contributed to this article.