Wisconsin’s sign off

first_imgAfter the announcement of this year’s recruiting class, Wisconsin once again finds itself overlooked.Head coach Bret Bielema listed off the top 20 schools for recruiting this year during Wednesday’s press conference, and not surprisingly, UW wasn’t on it. Over the past three seasons, Wisconsin hasn’t been rated among the top 25 teams in the country during the pre-season, yet every year that’s where they finish. Regarding this year’s recruiting class, Bielema feels no different.”I have a feeling and idea of where we’ll end up,” Bielema said during Wednesday’s press conference to announce UW’s 2007 recruiting class. “I want our kids to know that when they sign this class, they’re coming to be a part of a program that works — that develops kids when they’re here and comes out with a finished product that we feel is the top 20 in the country year-in and year-out.”Although the recruiting class of ’07 wasn’t large by normal standards — only 16 players were signed on scholarship out of a possible 25 spots — Bielema, with a year under his belt, used the extra time to get a head start on next year’s recruiting process.”One of the benefits to our whole recruiting approach this year, with the smaller class, basically the last two, three weeks of recruiting, I’ve been able to have seven assistants out on the road and do an unbelievable job of recruiting our next year’s class already,” Bielema said. “The last two weeks when I was on the road, it was almost entirely junior recruiting.”Wide receivers coach Henry Mason, who has been in the system for 13 seasons, says that advanced recruiting is becoming the norm these days, as colleges become more and more competitive.”You have no chance to get one of the premier guys unless you know who he is right now,” Mason said.With the departure of safeties Roderick Rogers and Joe Stellmacher, as well as Mark Zalewski at linebacker and All-American left tackle Joe Thomas, the Badgers certainly had some looming gaps to fill, especially in the secondary.”Overall, I thought that if there’s one area where we need to be strong in this recruiting class, kind of like the offensive line a year ago, was probably the defensive back position,” Bielema said.While every position’s coach wanted three or four recruits, with just 16 signees, it wasn’t possible. Instead, Bielema focused on replacing the depleted secondary with players who can play both the corner and safety positions. “I think we signed enough what we call ‘true defensive backs’ that we can address any cornerback need we have in the future and safety need that we may have in the next eight to 10 to 12 months,” defensive line coach Randall McCray said. “Athletically, they’re as explosive to the ball as you can find.”Still, the decision to sign defensive backs instead of defensive linemen left McCray envious.”I would have liked to have had more defensive lineman; coach Doeren would liked to have had two more linebackers,” McCray said. “I mean we got a lot of secondary guys now. Coach Cooks can’t be too selfish now; he’s got four guys in the secondary this year.”Certainly addressing the secondary was among Bielema’s priorities. But this year’s recruiting class is headlined by two other position players and two Wisconsin prodigies: running back John Clay (Racine) and offensive lineman Josh Oglesby (Milwaukee). Clay, who is the No. 2 player in Wisconsin and the No. 4 running back in the country according to Rivals.com, made the coaching staff a little anxious as they waited for his decision. In the end, Bielema says, he stayed true to his roots and made the right decision by coming to Wisconsin.And both Mason and Bielema believe Clay has the ability to make an immediate impact. Oglesby, who stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 315 pounds, is the top-rated offensive tackle in the country and No. 10 overall player by Rivals.com. “Any time you’re 6-foot-5, 280 pounds as a freshman, you’re going to get attention,” Bielema said. One of the many factors that play into recruiting is making sure the guys from home stay at home. For Wisconsin, that tradition is no different.”Any player that is at the level or the ability to help us win a championship needs to stay in Wisconsin,” Bielema said. “It’s something I hope we won’t deviate from.”Acknowledging this season’s success at retaining in-state players, Bielema praised Mason and running backs coach John Settle for their work. Of the 16 recruits on scholarship and 18 overall, seven are from in-state. Despite UW’s track record at retaining Wisconsinites, Bielema’s staff didn’t limit itself to cheeseheads, emphasizing a focus on Florida and Texas — two hotbeds when it comes to football talent.Of the 18 commitments, four come from those two states: running back Zach Brown, corner Aaron Henry and defensive lineman Jasper Grimes are from Florida, and defensive back Mario Goins hails from Copperas Cove, Texas. In trying to recruit players from other states, especially ones with as much football history as Florida and Texas, Mason says developing a relationship with the player and his family is vitally important. “It’s always a trust factor between a recruiter and recruit and anytime that you can put a parent’s mind at ease that way, you’ve got a better shot at getting him,” Mason said.In fact, Lee Evans’ mother, who is from the Glenville, Ohio area and has a strong relationship with the parents of recruit wide receiver Kyle Jefferson, helped Mason get Jefferson to go to Wisconsin. Of course, representing a program that won 12 games the fall before doesn’t hurt, either. After seeing the struggles of Zach Hampton last fall, another area of concern for the Badgers this year was that of the returnman. With the addition of track-speed athletes like David Gilreath, Henry (CB) and potentially even Jefferson, Nick Toon (WR) or Quincy Landingham (DB), the coaching staff is pleased with the upside it has at the position. “As a punt returner, kick returner, wide receiver, you can see he has very good speed,” Bielema said of Gilreath during the showing of his highlights. “We like him because when he came into camp he (was) probably one of the most impressive athletes ever since I’ve been coaching to overwhelm you with what he’s been able to physically do.”Rounding out 2007’s class are defensive linemen Patrick Butrym and Louis Nzegwu, linebackers Blake Sorensen and Kevin Rouse, defensive back Otis Merrill, quarterback James Stallons and walk-ons Cody Rose (QB) and Rob Korslin (TE).last_img read more

Greek organizations dominate USG

first_imgWhen Mikey Geragos announced his candidacy for Undergraduate Student Government president in 2012, his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers knew what to do. The freshmen pledges volunteered to distribute flyers on Trousdale Parkway. Many brothers committed to supporting the campaign on social media, or showed up to cheer for Geragos at debates. “It was like a routine,” Geragos said of the coordinated response. Raised by a family of proud Trojans, Geragos attended his first football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when he was just a toddler. From the moment he stepped onto campus as a USC freshman, the affable Pasadena native knew he wanted to lead the University he had grown to love. His fraternity’s strong legacy of leadership gave him the added confidence — and strategic advantage — to pursue his dream. “I had resources immediately that I don’t know how I would’ve gotten if I wasn’t in greek life,” Geragos said. The greek system has long exercised a significant role in student government at USC. With historically low rates of voter turnout for USG elections, sororities and fraternities represent a major voting bloc — one that candidates must capitalize on to win. It comes as no surprise, then, that seven of the past 10 student body presidents have held fraternity affiliations. Four presidents came from Sigma Chi, an unofficial student government powerhouse. Geragos, who won the 2012 election with 2,376 votes, cited manpower and name recognition as the primary strategic benefits of his involvement in the greek community. “It comes down to how many people know your name,” Geragos said. “Socially, when you’re in a greek organization, on average, you’re probably interacting with more people.” In recent years, USG has attempted to mitigate the influence of the greek community in elections by increasing overall voter turnout. Kat Lee, associate director of elections, said more students would participate if they appreciated just how much USG shapes their undergraduate experience. “I don’t think people realize the impact that USG can have on the student body,” Lee said. Lee referenced the extension of the drop deadline for classes and the University’s partnership with Uber, as meaningful changes negotiated by USG. By informing more students about these advocacy initiatives — through holding external office hours on Trousdale and developing an aggressive social media marketing campaign — she hopes to make policy, rather than popularity, the central focus of elections. “I think for candidates to be successful, they really need to appeal to a huge, diverse crowd,” Lee said. “The key to winning isn’t just winning over the greek Row.” Rini Sampath’s 2015 USG victory provides compelling support for Lee’s argument. With 3,906 votes, Sampath and her running mate Jordan Fowler became the first all-female ticket elected in USC history. Among other notable accomplishments, Sampath’s trailblazing presidency bucked a long tradition of greek dominance at the highest levels of student leadership, paving the way for current USG President Edwin Saucedo. While Sampath did not belong to a sorority, USG Senator Paul Samaha said she leveraged her close relationships with the greek community to win the election. “Rini showed that you don’t necessarily have to be greek to win, as long as you have ties to the system,” said Samaha, who worked as director of communications for the campaign. Although Geragos used his fraternity ties to secure votes, once elected, he shifted his focus to advocate on behalf of the entire student body. “I got a lot of requests from my friends in the greek community who were unhappy with what the administration was doing,” Geragos said. “I didn’t see going after that as a priority. I saw that as the Interfraternity Council’s priority.” Presidential candidate and current USG Vice President Austin Dunn, a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, echoed this sentiment. Dunn said his greek affiliations would not hinder him from effectively representing the interests of the broader campus. “The reality of the situation is, the constituency that we advocate the least for is the greek community. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have everything they need, but we work on a need basis,” Dunn said. “We ask students what needs to be changed on campus. And those changes are not primarily from the greek community.”last_img read more

Despite bitter ending, Trojans’ season was a success

first_imgDespite a last second defeat at the hands of Providence in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the USC men’s basketball team can hold their heads high. Throughout the season, the Trojans defied expectations and returned to the national stage.Coming off back-to-back last-place finishes in the Pac-12, the Trojans were expected to once again struggle this season in a deep conference. Preseason polls projected the Trojans would finish in 10th in the conference, just ahead of both Washington schools. USC responded by winning its first five games of the season, including a stand out victory over Wichita State.The Trojans continued their hot play into early February, boasting an 18-5 record, before they started to fall off. The Trojans dropped five of their next six games and dropped in the standings. After starting the season as one of the conference’s top teams, the Men of Troy had to settle for the seventh seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. USC handled UCLA in the first round before falling to eventual runner-up Utah in the second round.After drawing an eighth seed in the NCAA Tournament, their best since 2008, the Trojans faced an experienced squad in Providence. It looked like the Trojans were going to move on and face North Carolina in the second round before a series of mental lapses allowed Providence back into the game. The Friars scored the winning basket with 1.5 seconds left after USC left a Providence player unguarded right under the basket. Junior guard Julian Jacobs missed a desperation heave and the Trojans were knocked out.The Trojans had quite a successful season, especially considering the team only had one senior. The Men of Troy boasted wins over Wichita State, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon State, all of which were NCAA Tournament teams. The highlight of the Trojans’ season may have been defeating the UCLA Bruins three times in one season. The Trojans defeated the Bruins by an average of 19 points per game and blew them out by 24 in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament.USC was one of the most well-balanced teams in the Pac-12 this season with five players averaging double-digit scoring. Jacobs and sophomore Jordan McLaughlin had breakout seasons, with the former being named First Team All-Pac-12. The duo boasted a combined average of 25.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game.Freshmen Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu contributed immediately to a team that deeply needed outside shooting and interior defense. Boatwright shot 36 percent from 3-point range and averaged 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Metu chipped in 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while anchoring the Trojan defense.The Trojans are expected to return almost their entire roster next season. The only confirmed departure will be senior Strahinja Gavrilovic, who averaged only 2.6 minutes per game. The Trojans’ incoming recruiting class is led by four-star shooting guard Jonah Mathews. Mathews is the No. 72 overall prospect and the No. 1 shooting guard in California, according to Scout. Three-star recruits De’Anthony Melton and Harrison Henderson will also join what should be an experienced Trojan squad.After sitting out a year due to NCAA regulations, Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron will be eligible to play. The former Cardinal transferred to USC after a disappointing freshman year under Rick Pitino. Aaron was a four-star recruit out of Seattle. Washington and ESPN ranked him as the No. 33 overall prospect and No. 1 prospect out of Washington. Aaron will look to fill a void on the wing for USC next season.After two sub-par seasons under Andy Enfield, the Trojans took a giant leap forward this year. The Trojans set a school record by winning their first 15 home games, beat crosstown rivals UCLA three times and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. The Trojans will now look to build upon this season’s success and prove that they can continue to compete in the Pac-12. With most of their roster returning next year, expect the Trojans to make some noise on the national stage.last_img read more