Recruiting Comparison: How OSU, Wisconsin Starters Stack up as Recruits in High School Rankings

Recruiting stars matter but are not the end all, be all — else Texas would definitely have been back by now and Oklahoma State would have been floating in Texas Tech territory for over a decade.

But recruiting stars and rankings don’t not matter entirely, either.

So who has the advantage as OSU faces Wisconsin in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl this week?

I crunched the numbers and came away surprised by the data. Both good and bad. The good came on defense, where OSU has the slight edge. The bad came on offense, particularly along the offensive line, where OSU not only is pretty average but also where Wisconsin has bullies. People joke about Wisconsin offensive linemen being built different, but man, that team knows how to recruit some big boyz.

OK, let’s jump into the comparison. First up: OSU’s offense. For all unranked prospects in the Composite rankings they received a 75.00 average ranking so as not to entirely skew the data unfavorably.

POS Player 247 Composite
QB Garret Rangel 89.06
RB Ollie Gordon 91.25
WR Brennan Presley 85.65
WR Bryson Green 88.75
WR Braydon Johnson 84.39
WR John Paul Richardson 85.44
TE Braden Cassity 85
LT Caleb Etienne 85.96
LG Taylor Miterko 86.01
OC Preston Wilson 86.01
RG Hunter Woodard 85.73
RT Jake Springfield NR
Average 85.69

Interesting, right? It’s just fun to look at. I used the latest depth chart from both programs to compare and contrast in this exercise. Wisconsin’s offense is below. Note: Wisconsin has two QBs and hasn’t publicly committed to one or the other for the bowl game after its starter hit the portal. (Sound familiar?) So I averaged out each of their Composite scores to compile the total data below.

POS Player 247 Composite
QB Chase Wolf/Myles Burkett 85.26/87.07
RB Braelon Allen 91.59
WR Chimere Dike 87.27
WR Skyler Bell 85.78
WR Keontez Lewis 88.26
WR Dean Engram 85.8
FB Jackson Acker 87.63
TE Hayden Rucci 88.37
LT Jack Nelson 95.39
LG Michael Furtney 86.14
OC Tanor Bortolini 85.52
RG Trey Wedig 96.41
RT Riley Mahlman 93.79
Average 89.09

The takeaway: Wisconsin has far more “talent” in terms of recruiting stars at their respective starter spots. This is especially apparent along the offensive line where Wisconsin’s unit ranked 91.45 on average and OSU’s unit — again factoring in unranked recruits as a 75.00 overall grade — with a total grade of 83.74.

So the defense?

The defense, my friends. The defensive numbers are promising. OSU has an 86.71 to 85.37 advantage here. None of Wisconsin’s starters were ranked higher than 89.00 in the Composite. (OSU has just one, but that one — Kendal Daniels — was a cool 95.78.) Here’s OSU’s defense.

POS Player 247 Composite
CB Korie Black 87.42
CB Cam Smith 85.56
S Kendal Daniels 95.78
S Sean Michael-Flanagan 88.58
S Jason Taylor 86.06
DL Xavier Ross 84.85
DL Sione Asi 84.94
DE Brock Martin 84.43
DE Collin Oliver 88.67
LB Xavier Benson 84.89
LB Lamont Bishop 82.62
Average 86.71

Some really solid talent across the board. Collin Oliver is an All-American and didn’t crack an 89.00 ranking, by the way. C’mon, man!

Here are Wisconsin’s numbers.

POS Player 247 Composite
NB Cedrick Dort 82.54
CB Alexander Smith 84.23
S John Torchio 79.98
S Kamo’i Latu 84.64
CB Jay Shaw 86.49
DL Gio Paez 85.81
DE Isaiah Mullens 86.14
DE Rodas Johnson 88.58
LB CJ Goetz 86
LB Jordan Turner 86.8
LB Maema Njongmeta 87.84
Average 85.37

The takeaway: If you’re to put stock into recruiting rankings and how they might impact on-field play — which is problematic but play along with me! — it appears Wisconsin’s secondary would be the most vulnerable. That doesn’t entirely check out — Wisconsin is about middle-of-the-pack in the Big Ten in defending the pass — but its certainly a more viable attack than trying to gain through the ground game. Wisconsin has a stingy run defense that ranks third-best among Big Ten teams this season in yards rushing allowed per game.