Dante Reno and Michael Van Buren are both 4-star prospects from out east that Bobby Engram is intrigued by.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any major college athletics team, but following it closely as a fan can sometimes be difficult and can often be time consuming. We’ll try and condense all the recruiting news you can use into this bi-weekly (sometimes more) post. It’ll include updates on current commits, including stats from their high school games, as well as news on players the Badgers are still pursuing. Let’s get down to business!
New QB offers
Ah yes, it is time to talk about everyone’s favorite position to recruit: quarterback. Prior to this week, the Badgers only had one QB offer out for the 2024 class and, well, that one isn’t going to work out for UW. It is nice to see Wisconsin move on quickly and get right in the mix with two new, talented signal callers. Quarterbacks are always some of the first players off the board in their respective classes so UW needs to continue to work fast and get these guys on campus.
- 2024 4-star QB Michael Van Buren (Baltimore) out of St. Frances Academy added a Wisconsin offer to his list on Wednesday. He has a whole host of offers from schools like Alabama, Maryland, Michigan, Ole Miss, Penn State, Rutgers and Virginia Tech among others. He has also taken visits to NC State and Rutgers (twice) but doesn’t have an offer from the Wolfpack yet.
— Michael Van Buren (@mike3k_) June 8, 2022
Van Buren stands a hair under 6-foot-0 and weighs around 180 pounds. The On3 Consensus has him rated as the No. 141 player and No. 13 QB in the country for 2024 as well as the No. 5 player in Maryland. The 247 Composite is just a touch higher on him, ranking him as the No. 139 player and No. 11 QB in the nation.
I’m struggling to find full season stats for Van Buren, but I did find that he completed 16-of-19 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns against California powerhouse De La Salle last season. St. Frances doesn’t play in a conference, so they play a national schedule against teams like that or IMG Academy (whom they also beat, the first loss IMG suffered at home in 20 games). From what I can tell, Van Buren wasn’t the full-time starter this past year but was certainly more than capable of taking over the reins when handed them.
Recently, Van Buren won the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge for underclassmen at the Elite 11 D.C. Regional and was noted as “one of the more accurate passers at the event and was consistent with his footwork and mechanics throughout the day.” He was also one of the top performers at the regional series of camps that Rivals puts on, being named the No. 9 QB that played at any of the events throughout the country.
His Hudl tape shows off a strong arm and good mobility. He isn’t a “running quarterback” but he is definitely more mobile than any signal caller the Badgers have on their roster currently. While I’m sure some people look at his height with a bit of concern, he still has time to grow and his height doesn’t seem to affect his game at all in high school, even when he’s stepping up in the pocket.
He would be a great get for the Badgers, but who knows what he’s looking for and whether or not he’s interested in what Bobby Engram (who used to coach in Baltimore with the Ravens) is selling.
- Another 2024 4-star QB prospect earned an offer this week from UW. Dante Reno (Fiskdale, Mass.) out of The Loomis Chaffee (Windsor, Conn.) School is now on the Badgers radar to be the QB of the future. He has other offers from Cincinnati, Houston, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest and a bunch of other schools too.
— Dante Reno (@dantereno10) June 8, 2022
Standing around 6-foot-1 and weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of 215 pounds, Reno is ranked as the No. 229 player and No. 17 QB in the nation by the On3 Consensus. He is also the No. 2 player in Connecticut. Both 247 Sports and On3 have the Gamecocks as the favorite to land Reno. Interesting fun fact: Reno’s dad is the head football coach at Yale. They don’t appear to be in the mix for his services. Ouch.
Last season as a sophomore he threw for 2,507 yards and being responsible for 27 total touchdowns, while completing 66 percent of his passes and leading his team to a Class A New England prep school title, beating Milton Academy 21-3. Reno threw for all three scores. According to his high school’s 2022-23 roster, Reno has been named a captain for the upcoming season.
Reno doesn’t look to be as much of a runner as Van Buren, but he is mobile in the pocket and avoids pass rushers well. He throws a pretty ball and shows great touch on passes that just fly over the outstretched fingertips of opposing defensive backs. Most of his work comes out of the shotgun, so I’d be interested to see what he can do when lining up under center, but he’s a talented player and a good guy to have on the board for UW.
Will the Badgers be able to make up ground with him over schools like South Carolina and Kentucky who already have lengthy relationships? I guess we’ll just have to find out!
Another offer that came out of camp on Monday
- 2024 3-star OT (Rivals only) Ronan O’Connell (Franklin, Tenn.) out of Fred J. Page High School earned an offer from Wisconsin on Monday. O’Connell has over a dozen offers already including from Florida State, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State and Tennessee among others. The On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine puts the Vols and Badgers as the runaway favorites to land O’Connell, with UW just a hair behind UT currently.
— Ronan O’Connell (@RonanOConnell72) June 7, 2022
Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing around 265 pounds, O’Connell has a frame that can add 30 to 40 more pounds so he can handle the rigors of Power 5 football. On his Hudl tape he plays both tackle and guard, so it’ll be interesting to see where Bob Bostad and the Badgers project him.
His current height would make him the shortest tackle on UW’s roster, but his versatility is probably appealing since injuries can pop up at any time. In my amateur opinion, he is quick and athletic and can get to the second level on run plays to eliminate a linebacker.
PWO fight with your rival? PWO fight with your rival!
- 2023 ATH/LB Zander Rockow (Eau Claire) out of Regis High School accepted a preferred walk-on spot with Minnesota on Sunday and then, one day later, the Badgers offered him a PWO spot in Madison. Rockow was one of the most impressive performers at the WFCA Combine back in May and many who follow recruiting wanted Wisconsin to offer him then.
— Zander Rockow (@RockowZander) June 7, 2022
Not entirely sure what the holdup was for UW, nor am I not 100% convinced that this wasn’t just a spiteful rivalry offer to try and needle the Gophers, but whatever it was…it appears that Rockow is rowing his way to the Twin Cities this fall.
Row Row Row 〽️
— Zander Rockow (@RockowZander) June 7, 2022