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July 7, 2013

Badger Watch 2: Running backs

With summer camps over and more commitments in place, Wisconsin has a better idea of what its 2014 recruiting class will look like. Over the next two weeks, BadgerBlitz.com will reanalyze UW's recruiting efforts with a position-by-position breakdown of targets to see how the Badgers will fill their 2014 recruiting class.

Today, we reexamine the running backs.

1. Last update: Badger Watch: Running backs (5/14/13)

2. What's happened since May?

One of Wisconsin's top targets at the position, three-star Taiwan Deal, committed to Wisconsin in late June. That leaves the Badgers with at least one more open spot at the position, which they'll likely try to fill with a faster back.

L.J. Scott would have likely committed to Wisconsin, but the staff did not view him as a compliment to Deal. Scott, a three-star back from Ohio who has since committed to Louisville, worked out for Thomas Hammock at Wisconsin the morning of Deal's commitment.

Arguably the top and most realistic option is Qadree Ollison, who recently put the Badgers in his top five. The New York standout is a bigger back like Deal, but a source close to the situation has told BadgerBlitz.com that Ollison still sits very high on UW's recruiting board.

"Wisconsin, they run that pro-style offense," Ollison told Rivals.com. "Everyone knows what Wisconsin's going to do. It's no secret they're going to run the ball 50 times a game. Probably the first three backs are all going to get carries. The first back might have 300 carries; the second might have 150 and the third might have 75. They ran the ball over 600 times last year, so they're going to run the ball, hard-nosed, smash-mouth football.

"Coach Hammock's a great coach. Wisconsin's had a history of great running backs: Ron Dayne, John Clay, Montee Ball, James White this year. They've had a really successful period of running backs. They're offensive linemen are remarkable, pretty much the best of the best. I talked to the head coach. I have a really nice talk with him, and they're good guys. Wisconsin's also a great school academically, and a degree from there is helpful, too."

Other backs with offers and mutual interest include Chris James, Aeris Williams and Madre London. All three have Wisconsin in their top group.

Finally, there is Joe Mixon, who has offers from seemingly every university in the country. The Badgers are in his loose top 10 and the five-star running back will be in Madison next weekend for an unofficial visit.

3. What happens next?

Ollison will likely wait until September to make a college choice, and London and Williams will take visits, so their decisions will take some time. James, meanwhile, has tripped to most of the schools in his top group besides Wisconsin, so it's tough seeing him pick the Badgers without him seeing the campus. As such, I would expect to see more offers extended at the position unless the staff feels confident where they sit with Ollison.

4. Class Prediction: I think Ollison will join Deal to form a thunder and ... thunder, combination. Deal, Ollison and current freshman Corey Clement would be a nice stable for Wisconsin moving forward.

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