The Wisconsin Badgers football program has a long and storied walk-on tradition.
Former stars such as Jim Leonhard, JJ Watt, Mark Tauscher, and more recently players such as Jared Abbrederis, Jack Cichy, and Ryan Connelly all began their careers as walk-ons before playing in the NFL.
While that is far from an exhaustive list, the fact of the matter remains, Wisconsin generally has multiple players that wind up starting at some point in their career after beginning their career as a walk-on. On next year's roster alone, former walk-ons such as John Torchio, Tatum Grass, and Jack Eschenbach are all projected to be significant contributors in 2022.
After two weeks worth of summer camps, the Wisconsin Badgers have identified four rising seniors in the 2023 recruiting class that they hope will join the program and follow the same path some of those success stories.
Let's break down each of the players that earned an opportunity to walk on with the Badgers.
Evan Van Dyn Hoven
Menasha (Wis.) athlete Evan Van Dyn Hoven picked up an offer from Wisconsin outside linebackers coach Bobby April and tight ends coach Chris Haering (in-state recruiter) on Wednesday.
Although his 2021 season was cut short due to an injury, Van Dyn Hoven possesses good size at 6-foot-3 and a little over 200 pounds, and he flashes nice quickness on both sides of the ball in his junior film.
Based on Coach April extending the opportunity, the assumption is that he is an outside linebacker recruit at this time, which makes sense considering he already plays as a standup edge rusher for his high school team.
His blend of size and athletic ability make him an intriguing player and his familiarity as an outside linebacker could make the transition to the college level a bit easier if he were to choose Wisconsin.
In-state offensive lineman Zack Mlsna of Cashton High School (Wis.) took to Twitter to share his walk-on opportunity with Wisconsin on Thursday.
The 6-foot-5 two-way lineman included offensive line coach Bob Bostad and in-state recruiter Chris Haering in his announcement after working out with the Badgers as an offensive lineman.
Last season, Mlsna was named the Scenic Bluffs Conference Lineman of the Year, and was also an honorable mention All-State selection as a junior.
Mlsna holds several offers at the DII level from Augustana, Minnesota State, Southwest Minnesota State, and Upper Iowa, as well as interest from several other Midwest schools such as North Dakota.
He is also a basketball player, but it will be interesting to see where his recruitment goes from here.
Another outside linebacker target, Mack O'Halloran, received word from position coach Bobby April of his walk-on opportunity on Tuesday.
A multi-sport athlete, playing baseball and track, O'Halloran has great size at 6-foot-4 and pushing 240 pounds.
O'Halloran has multiple scholarships that he is considering as well, and is a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports. Army, Central Michigan, Grand Valley State, Northern Iowa, and South Dakota have offers out to him at this time.
O'Halloran moves well after the catch as a tight end and could project to play multiple positions in the front seven on defense, depending on how his body develops.
According to his HUDL profile, O'Halloran runs a 4.65 40-yard dash and a 4.5-second shuttle time, both of which are strong marks for a 240-pound junior.
He is likely to continue to add scholarships in the coming months after missing some time last season due to an injury.
Colorado long-snapper Keane Bessert received a walk-on offer following a strong camp performance earlier this month with the Badgers.
The walk-on chance with Wisconsin is not Bessert's only, as he has an offer from Iowa State as well.
Bessert was on campus back in April for an unofficial visit, and he has taken additional trips to Kansas State and Oregon in the past couple of months.
Ranked as one of the top long-snappers in the country, Bessert will undoubtedly garner more attention on the recruiting trail, but Wisconsin seems to be in a good spot after offering him early.
Bessert is 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds.
- Former walk-on Tate Grass put on scholarship
- 2023 cornerback Jace Arnold official visit preview
- 2023 wide receiver Trech Kekahuna official visit preview
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