- Craig Haubert, RecruitingNation
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The Badger State does not provide a deep pool of FBS talent, but that doesn't mean you can't find some good prospects in Wisconsin. The talent pool may be limited, but Wisconsin is home to players like tight end Lance Kendricks, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and running back John Clay. While the state has not produced an ESPNU 150 prospect for the third straight year and there are no five- or four-star prospects in this year's class, there is a solid crop of three-star prospects available who are spread among different positions. The Badgers, which are taking advantage of that solid group of three-star prospects, have proven they can find and develop talent from here that can help them win. The Badgers may be working with some limited resources in-state, but Bret Bielema and his staff rarely let any of the top talent from the state get away.
Melvin Gordon (Kenosha, Wisc./Mary D. Bradford)
Gordon, 6 feet and 182 pounds, is listed as an athlete but will likely play running back in college. He possesses a wide receiver's build but plays running back in high school and displays the tools to be productive at that position in college. He is a bit of a tall and lean kid for a running back and will need to watch his pad level when he runs and add bulk to his frame, but he has good vision with great feet and smooth hips. He has a nice blend of speed and quickness and displays good elusiveness in the open field. What we like about Gordon as a running back is that he shows good patience and will follow and let his blocks set up. He catches the ball well and can contribute as a target out of the backfield if his build and hands don't happen to land him at wide receiver. The three-star athlete recently decommitted from Iowa, and the Badgers seemed poised to land Gordon and add another potential weapon at running back to their stable.
Remember this name
Derek Watt (Pewaukee, Wisc./Pewaukee)
His older brother, JJ, has developed into a star defender for the Badgers, and now the younger brother of the high motor, blue collar and productive defensive end will be coming to play for Wisconsin. The younger Watt, a linebacker prospect, was a one-time Northwestern commit, but the start to his career at Wisconsin may slightly be delayed as a greyshirt. Derek has good size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position. He can be tough versus the run and can cause problems when asked to blitz. He displays upside as a player in coverage and can be a good special teams player for the Badgers. Derek runs with a good motor, can make plays and could have fans cheering for a Watt on defense when JJ is gone.
Taking up residence
Here are the colleges that are doing best with prospects from Wisconsin:
The Badgers are taking care of business on the field this season, and they are staying active and doing well on the recruiting trail in their own state. Wisconsin has snatched up half of the 10 three-star prospects in the state and has commitments from eight Badger State prospects in total. The top prospect in their class is Jake Keefer (Baldwin, Wisc./Baldwin-Woodville), an outside linebacker prospect with good size, athleticism and toughness for the position. For a program that has developed some good tight ends, it has a commitment from Sam Arneson (Merrill, Wisc./Merrill), a three-star tight end prospect who has good hands. The Badgers also seem in good shape to add the state's top prospect, Gordon, to their class.
The Blue Devils have several offensive line prospects on board in their 2011 class. One of their top big men committed is three-star guard Marcus Aprahamian (Brookfield, Wisc./Central), who is a tough run-blocker.
The Spartans have landed a pair of three-star prospects from the Badger State led by Mark Scarpinato (Milwaukee, Wisc./Marquette University), a blue-collar defensive lineman. Also on board is Trae Waynes (Kenosha, Wisc./Mary D. Bradford), a safety prospect with good speed and physical upside.
Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has more than a decade of coaching experience. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
The talent pool isn't the deepest in the Badger State, but there are still plenty of good prospects who can help a program win conference titles. Just as Wisconsin's Bret Bielema.