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Wisconsin 2023 recruiting: May status report (defense)

A look at where the Badgers stand at each position in the 2023 recruiting class on defense as of late May.

The Wisconsin football team has added five commitments during May, and with official visit season under way for 2023 prospects, the month of June could provide plenty of fireworks on the recruiting trail for the Badgers.

With an eye toward next month's action, let's break down where Wisconsin stands at each defensive position in the 2023 class. 

You can check out our offensive-focused preview here from yesterday.  

Defensive line

Current commits: 

Top targets:

  • My'Kiel Gardner
  • Ashton Sanders

The breakdown: The Badgers have a great start along the defensive line in the 2023 recruiting class with a commitment from Roderick Pierce out of Chicago. The 6-foot-3 lineman is incredibly versatile and can play anywhere along the line. 

Wisconsin now hopes to pair Pierce with fellow Chicago nose tackle Jamel Howard, who will take an official visit to Madison over the weekend of June 10. The two are friends, and defensive line coach Ross Kolodziej has made them a priority of late. 

With the Badgers looking to take multiple defensive linemen in the 2023 cycle, the other two names to know for now are My'Kiel Gardner and Ashton Sanders. Both players are from out West, and the duo will be on campus on June 3 for official visits. Cal and a slew of other Pac-12 schools are involved with Gardner and Sanders as well, but if Wisconsin could land one of them, in addition to Howard, it would represent a huge win.

In-state defensive end Will McDonald is another name to know in the class. He is the younger brother of Wisconsin defensive end Cade McDonald and recently added an offer from Iowa State. He will likely camp with the Badgers in June and could be a nice insurance policy if UW misses out on Gardner and Sanders. 

Outside linebacker

Current commits: None

Top targets:

  • Tackett Curtis

The breakdown: Wisconsin outside linebackers coach Bobby April has put a ton of effort into recruiting Tackett Curtis and Jordan Mayer in this cycle.

Curtis, a four-star prospect out of Louisiana, might be the top overall target on Wisconsin's entire recruiting board. Coach April has the Badgers battling LSU, Ohio State, and USC in his recruitment. He is expected on campus the first week of June, and his tenacity on the defensive end could make him an absolute start in Jim Leonhard's defense.

Mayer was previously committed to Boston College, but Wisconsin has emerged since his decommitment. The three-star edge rusher out of Pennsylvania is 6-foot-5 and is a tremendous fit at outside linebacker. Mayer will take an official visit to Madison on June 10, and he told All Badgers earlier this month that he loves Wisconsin's "old school brand of football."

Expect the Badgers to be in the thick of things for each player until the end. Mayer is the more likely addition at this point, but landing the duo is not out of the question. 

Inside linebacker

Current commits:

  • Tyler Jansey

Top targets: The Badgers appear set with Tyler Jansey as the lone inside linebacker for now. 

The breakdown: Wisconsin landed a commitment from Illinois linebacker Tyler Jansey back in January, and that will probably conclude inside linebacker recruiting in 2023. The Badgers were an early offer for Jansey, and the staff is high on what he will bring. 

Cincinnati commit Trevor Carter is another name to keep an eye on, solely because he has an offer from the Badgers and is teammates with Wisconsin commit Jaquez Keyes. If he opens his recruitment up, or decides to officially visit Madison, Carter instantly shoots up the Badgers' wish list. 

As things stand though, I think Wisconsin is comfortable with Jansey as the only inside linebacker in 2023 after loading up at the position in previous classes. 

Cornerback

Current commits: 

Top targets:

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  • Amare Snowden
  • Jace Arnold
  • Quentin Ajiero

The breakdown: The Badgers are looking to add multiple cornerbacks as part of the 2023 class. Defensive back commit Justin Taylor is already in the fold, and probably best projects to cornerback, but he could also wind up as a safety. Overall, Taylor's versatility gives the class some flexibility in the defensive backfield.

Position coach Hank Poteat has the Badgers in a good spot with several other talented cornerbacks who will be on campus this June.

Amare Snowden, who was on campus back in April for a spring visit, is arguably the top target for the position. At 6-foot-3, his length sets him apart from most other cornerbacks across the country, and he is also incredibly athletic. The Badgers recently made his top six schools and are expected to secure one of his five official visits.

Florida cornerback Nate Johnson will take an official visit to Madison on June 3, and he is a very athletic player, that like Justin Taylor, could project to multiple positions.

Texas cornerback AJ Tisdell will be on campus the following weekend, and he does not have any other official visits scheduled at this time. The College Station native is one of the top cornerback targets for the Badgers, and Wisconsin seems to be in a good spot heading into June.

The 247 Sports database has both Jace Arnold and Quentin Ajiero officially visiting in June as well, and the two Georgia products are impressive prospects. Arnold has a really strong offer list that includes Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, so he would be a significant commitment if they can win out in his recruitment.

Overall, the five offered prospects above represent Wisconsin's main targets heading into June. In an ideal world, two or three of those top guys commit next month, though the Badgers are not alone in their recruitments. I believe two is a realistic number if the Badgers do well on the upcoming visits. 

Safety

Current commits: None

Top targets:

  • Kahlil Tate
  • Damon Walters

The breakdown: As mentioned earlier, Justin Taylor could very well project to play safety in this class depending on what happens with the other cornerbacks and safeties on Wisconsin's recruiting board. 

Chicago athlete Kahlil Tate takes his official visit the first weekend of June, and he is probably the top target at this point. At 6-foot-3, he can cover a lot of ground in the back-end of the defense, and he has an offer list that includes Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, and others. Tate has visits with Iowa, Purdue, and Wisconsin on the books, with the Badgers getting the first chance. Jim Leonhard will hope to keep momentum in the state of Illinois, going and landing the high three-star. 

Another Illinois product to look out for is Damon Walters. He has not yet released his official visit schedule, but Wisconsin is a contender. 

Tate seems like the more likely get at this juncture, but official visits will go a long way in deciding both recruitments. 

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