Commitment Capsule: Linebackers

Four-star linebacker Jake Keefer (Scout)

With signing day fast approaching, Badger Nation will examine each position and the impact it will have on the program. In the next part of our series, we look at the linebackers.

Number of Scholarship Players added: 3 (Jake Keefer, Derek Landisch, Derek Watt)

Number of Scholarship Players lost: 2 (Culmer St. Jean, Blake Sorensen)

Recruiting Story: (Keefer) Playing just a stone throw away from the Minnesota border, Keefer's family is full of Badgers fans. Playing for his dad at Baldwin-Woodville High, Keefer played middle linebacker, running back and tight end, scoring 14 touchdowns on offense and two on defense. Keefer was one of the stars in UW's '09 summer camp and was one of two juniors (the other being Melvin Gordon) to receive a UW offer. The Badgers made sure to signal both players out. They both had their own UW Junior Day, getting a chance to tour around and see the campus.

Keefer didn't want to drag out his process so he packed in a lot of visits and made a lot of decisions before the end of February. Keefer made up his mind when we went to watch a UW spring practice, which included a film session and a workout. After fulfilling a promise to the Notre Dame coaching staff to come down and visit its campus. While it was a cool experience, it just didn't compare to Wisconsin for him.

Keefer committed to the Badgers over offers from Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Washington State.

(Landisch) Sidelined for five games with a broken growth plate in his ankle, the 6'0, 215-lb Landisch has interest from a host of schools, even an offer from Illinois State but got the same answer from most of the schools sending him letters: in order to get an offer, you must prove yourself this summer on the camp circuit.

He picked up small time offers from Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and South Dakota on the circuit, but Landisch wasn't necessarily thinking about a UW offer at the Badgers' camp, just that he wanted to show the coaches how hard he can play. The rest certainly took care of itself. On the second day of camp, former defensive coordinator Dave Doeren told Landisch to head up to Bret Bielema's office where he got an offer. Landisch took a day to talk it over and realized that it being close to home, having great academics, great athletics and great coaches that it was the right fit.

(Watt) The younger brother of former UW defensive end J.J. Watt, Derek Watt got the scholarship pressure off his shoulder after he picked up his first offer from Western Michigan in March. The list ballooned from there, as Akron, Central Michigan, Illinois State, Miami (OH), North Dakota, North Dakota State and Northern Illinois all came with an offer.

At Wisconsin's camp, Watt was one of the best defensive players and probably would have left camp with an offer in a normal recruiting year. With the badgers tight on offers, however, Watt had to wait. With the Badgers handcuffed, Bielema eventually did the best he could and gave him a grayshirt offer, delaying his enrollment by one year. At the same time, Coach Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern came through with an offer. After a visit to Evanston, Watt made the tough decision to play right away and commit to the Wildcats on July 5.

But after Watt committed, slowly started to reconsider his choice the more time he spent around the Wisconsin program watching his brother. Watt opened some eyes when he took an unofficial visit to the Ohio State game, and with the more games home and away he visited and taking his official visit for the Indiana game, Watt decided to switch back.

His decision was rewarded, as an injury to Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs athlete Eric Steffes opened up a scholarship for Watt, meaning Watt will enroll in the summer and Steffes will grayshirt.

Scout's Scouting Report: (Keefer) With Keefer's dad having been a former linebacker, Jake grew up doing linebacker drills in the backyard. Playing on the defensive side of the ball is what he loves doing and it comes through on his film. Keefer has a nice frame and is a good football player who clearly thinks the game. He is quick to read plays and fill gaps, and is also a good athlete, which he shows on both sides of the ball. Watching him catch passes and run with the ball, you can see his athleticism and coordination. He's probably a redshirt year away from being a contributor.

(Landisch) A 6-0 athlete with a good center of gravity, Landisch is strong at the point of attack and his good speed for his position. Named to the all-combine team at the Nike Combine in Chicago, Landisch scored the second- best SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness) rating out of 968 prospects, a fact that showed how much of a well-rounded athlete he is at this age.

(Watt) A two-way athlete from Pewaukee, Watt rushed for over 1,500 yards as a senior and had 25 touchdowns and has run a 4.74 laser-timed 40-yard dash. I love Watt's reaction when the play starts. He reads the play very well, has good instincts and plays with a good pad level. Although Keefer is the only four-star player in this class, it's not out of the question to think Watt can be a standout linebacker. If he's anything like his brother, I wouldn't bet against him.

Who did the Badgers miss out on: Three-star linebacker Sean Duggan. The Badgers really liked Duggan and the thoughts were reciprocated. Duggan loved Wisconsin, Joe Rudolph and the coaches, the defensive philosophy and everything else. He seemed like a UW lock, but the Badgers got a wave of defensive commitments and simply ran out of room for Duggan, who had since committed to his other favorite (Boston College).

How the position could change: Don't expect any changes from the UW linebackers.

Jake Keefer Senior Highlights

For more information on the 2011 Wisconsin verbal commits, sign up for a three-month or year subscription with in time to get the 2011 Wisconsin Recruiting Yearbook that includes breakdowns of the entire class Recommended Stories

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