On Thursday morning when new Wisconsin Badgers offensive coordinator Phil Longo and new defensive coordinator Mike Tressel spoke to the Madison media for the first time and gave Badgers fans much to be excited about, there was even more good news to come, via the transfer portal, on Thursday afternoon.
First head coach Luke Fickell tweeted out his version of the “recruiting bat signal” and then, about 30 minutes or so later, former Temple defensive lineman Darian Varner announced that he was committing to Wisconsin via his personal Twitter account.
— Darian Varner (@DarianVarner) January 5, 2023
The Darian Varner File
As a sophomore at Temple last season, Varner was named All-AAC First Team after recording 35 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and forcing one fumble. Varner has already played 23 games in his career and has amassed 57 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks to go along with the one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The native of Norfolk, Va. stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 260 pounds, according to his bio on the Temple football website, and after entering the transfer portal he originally committed to Virginia Tech. However, national letters of intent for transfer players work a little differently than they do for high school players. A transfer player is not fully committed to a new school until he is on campus and attending classes, which is how the Badgers were still able to flip Varner.
Coming out of high school, Varner was rated as a 3-star prospect by the 247 Composite. He was listed as the No. 105 DT and No. 1,449 player in the nation. He held offers from Akron, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, ECU, James Madison, Kent State, Liberty, and some FCS schools as well. According to Evan Flood at Badger247, Varner took an official visit to Madison this week and was also considering Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and obviously Virginia Tech.
How does he help Wisconsin?
The Badgers have three defensive ends returning for the coming season, Isaiah Mullens, Rodas Johnson, and James Thompson Jr., but the lack of depth along the d-line was something that Fickell mentioned after the early signing period ended back in December. Varner will step on campus and will immediately be in the mix for playing time as a pass rusher and could be a key contributor for up to three years, if he chooses to use his COVID year.
Varner is the fourth player to join Fickell’s Badgers via the transfer portal this offseason along with former Boston College CB/S Jason Maitre, former SMU QB Tanner Mordecai, and former Oklahoma QB Nick Evers.