The Wisconsin Badgers football team scored a pair of major off the field victories this Saturday when two 4-star recruits verbally committed to the class of 2016.

The two recruits include Craig Watts Jr., a safety from Florida, and Cole Van Lanen, an offensive lineman from Green Bay. These commitments are a welcome change in fortune after the uber-talented Austin Kafentzis decided to take his quarterbacking talents elsewhere. (“Elsewhere” turned out to be the University of Nevada.)

Getting excited about college football recruits is often an exercise in disappointment. Sometimes they will – as you might expect from teenagers – change their mind and de-committ. Other times injuries or poor performance will prevent the recruits from living up to the unfair amount of hype heaped upon them by fans. So while it’s too soon to declare Watts and Van Lanen future All-Americans, it is an appropriate time to be excited that such sought after players committed to UW in the first place.

Craig Watts Jr. also had offers from Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State – three teams that made the inaugural college football playoff last season – yet decided Madison was where he wanted to be for four years. Cole Van Lanen had offers from the historical power house programs of Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska and came to the same conclusion as Watts.

For the time being it appears the storm created by Gary Andersen’s departure has dissipated and Paul Chryst’s staff is capable of recruiting some of the nation’s top high school talent to Mad Town. Whether these off the field victories will translate to victories on the gridiron is yet to be seen, but for now it’s an encouraging harbinger of success.

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