Chryst was very active on the sidelines, despite his pensive posture in this photograph.

Badgers football recruiting seeing new heights

Paul Chryst hasn’t even been at Wisconsin as the head coach for two full off-seasons, but his impact is being felt on the recruiting trail.

The 2016 class has been hailed as one of the best in Wisconsin football history, Chryst’s first class as the head coach of the program. According to 24/7 Sports, it was ranked 32nd best class nationally, which is the highest ranking since 2005 when the Badgers were also ranked 32nd. That class brought along productive Badgers as well as current NFL players DeAndre Levy, O’Brien Schofield, Matt Shaughnessy, and Jonathan Casillas.

The Badgers got a full class, 25 recruits, signed, sealed, and delivered to Madison. The cream of the crop are three 4-stars in OL Cole Van Lanen, DT Garrett Rand, and ATH A.J. Taylor. The class was ranked sixth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Nebraska.

Now, fresh off the signing of Tyler Beach, the Badgers 2017 class is gaining a lot of momentum.

The Badgers have eight total commits already, including 4-star OL Kayden Lyles, 3-star Tyler Beach (#1 player in the state of Wisconsin), and 3-star QB Jack Coan. The Badgers snagged Beach, WR Cade Green, and Barry Alvarez’s 3-star grandson Jake Ferguson all just last week.

Ferguson isn’t the only future Badger to have ties with the program. Kayden Lyles’ dad Kevin played for the Badgers from 1993-96. His brother, quarterback Karé Lyles, committed to Wisconsin as part of the 2016 class as a 3-star.

Although there is a very long way to go yet for the 2017 recruiting season, Wisconsin is currently ranked 15th in the nation, ahead of powerful programs like UCLA, USC, MSU, Stanford, and Texas. This likely will not stand, but it is a great start for a program that is perennially ranked in the high 30’s or low 40’s in the nation for recruiting.

Recruiting in the Big Ten is going to become more important than ever with Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh dominating the last few classes nationally. In 2015, the Buckeye’s had the seventh best class in the nation. Last year, Harbaugh’s first class at Michigan was ranked fifth in the nation, with Ohio State bringing in the fourth best. If other Big Ten schools don’t catch up with these two programs, the talent level may be too big of a distance to compete year in and year out.

With Meyer and Harbaugh’s recruiting prowess, it makes Chryst’s success in his first couple of classes impressive. So far, it’s encouraging to see the Badgers reaching levels on the recruiting trail that haven’t been seen before as a program, especially with the competition being the strongest it has ever been at the top of the Big Ten. Locking up the in-state talent has been key, as the Badgers have the top five players in Wisconsin committed to the program for 2017.

Wisconsin has always been hailed as a program that develops players and molds them to make the most of their system rather than getting pure talent, but after the last year’s class and the beginning of this year’s, the Badgers might be flipping the script on that reputation.

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