Is Gary Andersen turning Wisconsin into Kansas State?
His plan isn't nearly that extreme, but the new Wisconsin coach has so far kept to his word so far about bringing junior-college players to Madison. Andersen, himself a former junior college All-American before moving onto Utah, makes it clear that Wisconsin is in the market for junior-college talent.
The Badgers added another piece during the weekend as cornerback Tekeim Reynard committed to the school. Reynard, who played last year at Independence Community College in Kansas, will be eligible to play this fall and have three seasons with Wisconsin. The 5-11, 175-pound cornerback, originally from Virginia, picked Wisconsin ahead of Colorado, Kentucky and others.
Reynard is the third junior-college player to join Wisconsin since Andersen's arrival. Quarterback Tanner McEvoy and safety Donnell Vercher both arrive this summer.
"They told me how I would fit in and elevate their defense," Reynard told BadgerNation.com. "I feel excited about it and can't wait to dominate. This is just the beginning of something special. I'm an impact player and a dynamic player. You’ll see a passionate player with a lot of energy on the field for Wisconsin. I just can't wait."
Well, he certainly doesn't lack confidence.
Andersen and his assistants haven't hidden the fact that they need bodies in the secondary, where just one starter (safety Dezmen Southward) returns from the 2012 team. Sophomore Darius Hillary and junior Peniel Jean worked as the first-team cornerbacks during spring practice, and freshman early enrollee Sojourn Shelton received steady praise from the coaching staff. But Wisconsin still lacks significant game experience at corner, so bringing in Reynard, who recorded 88 tackles (56 solo), an interception and seven pass breakups in seven games, makes sense from a depth standpoint.
Andersen has stated often that any junior-college player brought in will get a fair chance to compete for a starting job in preseason camp, so keep an eye on Reynard, McEvoy and Vercher in August.
Junior-college players aren't unusual in the Big Ten, but they are at Wisconsin, which before Andersen's arrival hadn't brought in a juco player since 2008.
"It's a privilege to be at this school," Andersen said in February. "For junior college kids, if they take care of business, they have high academic standards ... they'll be able to come in without any problem."
Andersen is putting his imprint on Wisconsin's recruiting efforts. Expect more players from the West in future classes, as well as a greater emphasis on speed and athleticism at receiver and defensive back.
But the most dramatic change so far has been the junior-college arrivals, who could make an impact this season.