Wisconsin Badgers Football got off to a white-hot start in the recruiting department to kick off June. That pace was never sustainable, but four more players have given their verbal commitment since offensive lineman Ryan Cory announced on June 6.
I want to go more in-depth on the four players that have committed over the last week and a half. I’ll dive deep into their film, pointing out areas they are strong in and touching on some areas they may need to improve at the next level.
Wisconsin Badgers Football Commits
Raphael Dunn (Defensive Back)
Raphael Dunn is a defensive back out of Lawrenceville, N.J. The defensive backfield has been a major focus in this recruiting cycle for Luke Fickell and Co. Dunn is the third player at that position group to commit to Wisconsin Badgers Football, and it’s easy to see why the coaches are elated with his decision.
The New Jersey native was on campus for a recent recruitment weekend and gave his pledge quickly after experiencing Madison. There is a lot of excitement around Dunn and his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame. With that length comes positional flexibility, something defensive coordinator Mike Tressel is excited about.
The lanky defensive playmaker chose Wisconsin over Penn State, USC, and Michigan State, among others. He is listed as a 3-star currently but could very well be a positionless defender that truly takes off at the next level with high-level coaching and a top-tier weightlifting program. His tape shows a player that may just be scratching the surface of his potential.
- Great frame that allows for a ton of growth versatility
- Great physicality
- More speed and agility than his height may indicate
- Good ball skills
- Covers like a corner but hits like a linebacker
- Although he likes contact, he’ll need better fundamentals when tackling at the next level
- Use his physicality more in coverage, although this could be a defensive scheme issue with his current team
- Add some weight – He has a great frame, and will likely be a hybrid linebacker with Wisconsin Badgers Football, but has the skill set to be a safety if that’s where he ends up being most comfortable
I can’t wait to see Dunn on the field, although I expect it to take a year or so for his body to get to the size that the coaches want it. He’s the type of physical talent that coaches love and will be in a system where his versatility and skill set should truly be able to shine.
Colin Cubberly (Offensive Tackle)
Colin Cubberly is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound offensive tackle out of Lagrangeville, N.Y. The 3-star is the fourth and likely final offensive lineman of the 2024 recruiting class. The addition of Cubberly also continues the trend of bringing in tall, long-armed tackles just like Derek Jensen and Kevin Heywood.
Wisconsin Badgers Football beat out Penn State, Ohio State, and Texas, among others, for Cubberly’s services. The New York native was in Madison in early April and was impressed enough to commit two months later. It has been a common theme for players outside of the Midwest to visit Madison and leave very surprised in the best way possible.
- Functional strength – He uses his size well to move defenders, whether that be with a push to an off-balanced would be tackler or mauling someone closer to his size
- Above average straight-line speed – He looks comfortable in the open field and has no issues finding people to block once he gets to the second level
- Good hand usage – He has a lot of clips showing his ability to use his hands to gain leverage in the one-on-one battle. Good handwork is key to finding success at the next level.
- Footwork – Although I wouldn’t call it bad, he seems much more comfortable going north and south than east and west; The lateral movement can improve, but at the moment, his arm length, strength, and hand usage help him out.
- Hand placement – I liked his hand usage, but the placement could be a problem at the next level. On several occasions, it looked like he got a little wide on the grabs, but the defenders weren’t strong enough to pull away and draw a flag.
Overall, Cubberly looks like a rock-solid addition. He has the size to be a tackle at the college level and doesn’t need to be the quickest to find success. Continuing to improve with his hands will be key, along with utilizing his length.
Gideon Ituka (Running Back)
Wisconsin Badgers Football finally got a running back commitment for the 2024 class. Gideon Ituka is a 5-foot-10, 225-pound bruiser out of Gaithersburg, Md. Ituka was in Madison over the second weekend of June and was thoroughly impressed.
Wisconsin was the only official visit he took, but he did have offers from Penn State, Tennessee, and Louisville, among others. The Maryland native is an important addition to the 2024 class, as running back was one of the few positions that needed to be addressed. His film shows a back that should fit in seamlessly with Wisconsin Badgers Football and a player with a very high floor.
- Decisive runner – Ituka puts his foot in the ground and goes, which is a mentality that will work out well in an air raid offense; With the defense spread out, being decisive with your reads and cuts will pay dividends.
- Unexpected second gear – The top-end speed may not be there, but he has the burst to get to and through the second level without many issues
- Good vision – Ituka reads and sets up his blocks well to gain chunks of yards
- Impressive hands – Having the ability to catch the ball will be huge for him, as Phil Longo likes to be able to use his running backs in multiple ways
- Strength – He has the body type to battle in the BIG 10 now, but that lower center of gravity will help him bounce off would-be tacklers at the next level.
- Limited ceiling –This is by no means a knock on Ituka in terms of the impact he can have in Madison. Unfortunately, his lack of top-end speed limits his ceiling in my eyes
- Utilize power more – He doesn’t shy away from contact, but I would have expected to see him use his strength and power more against high school defenders; He has a few clips where it’s on display, but it’s something he’ll have to embrace against faster defenders in college
Wisconsin Badgers Football is hoping to add two running backs this cycle, and Ituka looks like a rock-solid first add. His size, strength, and decisiveness with the ball will work well in an offense that spreads defenses out. He has the skill set to pick up a ton of first downs and score a lot of touchdowns.
Jay Harper (Defensive Back)
Wisconsin Badgers Football added their fourth and potentially final defensive back of the 2024 class in Jay Harper. Harper is a 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback out of Valley, Ala. The 3-star had offers from Florida State, Florida, Clemson, and Texas A&M, among others.
Harper was in Madison a few weeks ago and reportedly “loved the culture.” This has been a common theme under Luke Fickell as the recruiting weekends have been major hits, along with leading to a lot of commitments. Harper doesn’t have the long-frame Fickell typically prefers in his defensive backs. After watching some film it may not matter as the young man looks tailor-made for the corner position.
- Speed – He’s by no means short, especially when compared to recent Badger corners, but he isn’t as tall as Fickell prefers
- Fluid hips – Corners can be as fast as possible, but it matters less if you have stiff hips; Harper shows the ability to flip his hips and run with receivers smoothly
- Good strength; At 6 feet, 180 pounds, Harper has a great frame to be a well-rounded corner
- Press coverage – This very well may be a coaching decision, but I’d like to see him play more physically.
- Tackling technique – He appears to throw his body around more than tackling with a purpose
- Ball skills – His tape, unfortunately, didn’t show much in terms of ball skills and in the return game he consistently bobbled kicks
Overall, I’m very excited about the addition of Jay Harper. He just looks like a very productive corner and has the physical traits to make it happen. He will likely be the last defensive back added for the 2024 class, but there were still a few that were recently on campus that expressed interest. We could potentially see a fifth before it’s all said and done.
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