Chryst Reflects on Wisconsin's Highest-Rated Class In Program History

Chryst Reflects on Wisconsin's Highest-Rated Class In Program History

Football

Chryst Reflects on Wisconsin's Highest-Rated Class In Program History

MADISON, Wis. – It was business as normal around the fax machine in the football offices of the University of Wisconsin Wednesday morning.

No thrills, no surprises and just the hum of signed national letters of intent spewing out of the fax machine from high school prospects in three time zones and 12 different states.

The only difference is that names on the binding letters included some of the nation’s top prospects to create a class that puts Wisconsin in uncharted waters.

The 19 members of Wisconsin’s 2019 class rank the Badgers 27th nationally in the 247sports composite rankings, combining the recruiting rankings from all the major recruiting cycles. Since the rankings were installed in 2000, Wisconsin’s best finish was 30th back in 2005.

Over at Rivals.com, the Badgers rank 25th, eight spots better than any UW class has finished in that site’s ranking, in part because head coach Paul Chryst and his staff landed verbal commits from the highest-rated quarterback (Graham Mertz), the highest cornerback (Semar Melvin), the highest tight end (Hayden Rucci), second-highest defensive tackle (Rodas Johnson), second-highest rated offensive lineman (Logan Brown) and the third-highest rated linebacker (Spencer Lytle) in program history.

All of this coming when Wisconsin has sputtered through a 7-5 season.

“What we feel great about is that we think the kids picked Wisconsin for all the right reasons,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said on the Big Ten Network Wednesday. “I think in all this recruiting it comes down to a fit and we certainly are excited that the kids that signed today are a great fit here.

“And likewise, they think Wisconsin is the best fit for them. That’s what makes this class feel so good. It is guys that have been really thorough in the recruiting process. Already it’s a close class. A number of them have done a great job of staying in touch with each other.”

Wisconsin consistently beat out some of the top programs in the country – Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State to name a few – in order to put together this class. A lot of those schools extended an offer to Mertz, a 6-3 205-pound quarterback who threw for a state-record 51 touchdowns as a senior and is viewed by many fans as the missing piece for a UW national title run.

“We think Graham does a ton of things that can fit right into what we’re doing and possibly add a little bit more to it,” Chryst said. “I was talking about how this class is connected. And Graham shows a lot of the qualities of a really good quarterback in that he is the leader of this class in many ways. Certainly a great personality. The other committed kids have really gotten to know him. He is obviously very talented. We love the way that he throws and can throw every type of ball, but I think who he is is why we’re really thrilled to have Graham join us.”

In the two-plus years this recruiting class came together, the commits talked glowingly about Wisconsin being more than a football program. The coaching staff promotes a family atmosphere (UW’s social media account welcomed each new signee with the saying ‘Welcome to the Family’ tagline) and surround the program with people who genuinely care.

That’s one of the ways Wisconsin impressed Brown, who picked Wisconsin over scholarship offers from Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, and several others after paying his own way to visit Madison a half-dozen times to be around the staff and the program.

“What got us really excited about Logan is who he is,” Chryst said of Brown. “We’ve been fortunate. We got to know Logan early and he committed a couple years ago, and you appreciate that … Logan is a heck of a football player.”

The Badgers added depth at multiple positions but not as big as linebacker. UW signed four linebackers in inside linebackers Leo Chenal (Grantsburg, Wis.) and Maema Njongmeta (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) and outside linebackers Lytle (Redondo Beach, Calif) and Skyler Meyers (Blue Springs, Mo.). Lytle picked Wisconsin over Clemson – a perennial playoff team – and over 40 other schools.

“We feel like we have a really good group that fits in what we’re doing defensively, and it’s a group that’s active,” Chryst said. “It’s a group that can play really a number of different linebacker spots … We do feel like they’ve become a great fit for our defense, can help on special teams.”

And while UW lost three commits during the cycle in four-star receiver Nolan Groux (Wake Forest), three-star safety Bryson Shaw and three-star receiver Marcus Graham, the Badgers flipped four prospects to their program in three-star wide receiver Stephan Bracey (Western Michigan) three-star tight end Clay Cundiff, three-star fullback Quan Easterling and three-star safety Titus Toler (Colorado).

UW’s average player rating of 87.41 is also a program record in the 247sports composite era, for now. UW’s 2020 class includes four linemen prospects who are highly thought of, a reason why next year’s class ranks No.12 nationally at this point.

“We’re excited about this (2019) class for a number of reasons,” Chryst said. “Certainly, the football aspect of it, but as important is who they are and how they’ll fit on this team and in this campus.”

More BadgersInsider
Home