Chryst-National Signing Day advance

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst tosses an orange after his team's win over the Miami Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL

M.P. KING

National Signing Day likely won't have quite the pomp and circumstance as it once did.

In fact, the University of Wisconsin football team may not even sign any scholarship prospects during this year's edition, which takes place Wednesday.

The Badgers inked 19 scholarship signees during the NCAA's first football early signing period in December, erasing much of the intrigue and hoopla typically associated with February's National Signing Day.

Here's what you need to know about the new signing system and why Wednesday may not ultimately be eventful for UW:

Why was a December early signing period created?

For prospects who are strong commitments, they're able to make it official and truly end the recruiting process early. If for whatever reason their school feels it no longer has a spot for that player, he still has six weeks to pick a new home.

For coaches, an ability to sign prospects early allows a program to gauge how strong its commitments really are and where its priorities should lie leading up to National Signing Day in February.

As UW coach Paul Chryst has said in the past, the early signing period reveals which offers are actual offers and which commitments are actual commitments, and it does so before it's too late for a backup plan.

It worked out perfectly for the Badgers, who signed all 19 scholarship commitments early, allowing them to focus on a small number of prospects down the stretch of this recruiting cycle and gain a head start on their competitors for the 2019 class.

Who did UW already sign?

UW's 19 scholarship signees from December are running back Nakia Watson, safety Reggie Pearson, outside linebacker Mason Platter, defensive ends Boyd Dietzen and Isaiah Mullens, inside linebackers C.J. Goetz and Jack Sanborn, offensive lineman Michael Furtney, quarterback Chase Wolf, athletes Cormac Sampson, Aron Cruickshank and Jaylan Franklin, cornerbacks Travian Blaylock, Donte Burton and Alexander Smith, wide receivers Taj Mustapha, AJ Abbott and Isaac Guerendo and defensive tackle Bryson Williams.

During a BTN interview Dec. 20 after the group signed, Chryst said he likes the size and positional flexibility of the defensive backs in this class and also appeared excited about Watson's ability to complement Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor.

The class currently ranks No. 42 nationally in the 247sports' composite rankings.

So, did all those prospects enroll early?

No longer does an early signing mean a prospect is enrolling early. Pearson, Cruickshank, Burton, Mustapha and Williams are enrolled and taking part in winter conditioning. The rest are expected to join the team this summer.

Some are particularly excited about Williams, who could fill a position of need at nose tackle and potentially contribute immediately.

Which prospects could the Badgers still sign Wednesday?

Former Rutgers and Georgia commit Rachad Wildgoose, a three-star defensive back from Northwestern High in Miami, reportedly took a visit to UW this weekend and stands as perhaps the most likely final addition to the Badgers' 2018 class.

Cornerback Jairus Brents from Louisville visited Madison the weekend of Jan. 26 and could be another name to watch Wednesday, although he's unlikely to ultimately choose the Badgers.

UW also expressed interest in California wide receiver John Jackson and New Jersey defensive end/outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste since December, but both are expected to sign elsewhere.

Will 2019 be any different?

Probably not. The Badgers already have eight commitments in the 2019 class - five of which are ranked as four-star prospects by at least one major recruiting site. UW's 2019 class ranks No. 3 nationally in 247sports' composite rankings.

With the Badgers getting much of their business for next year's class done early, expect UW to sign a big chunk of commitments in December once again.

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Jason Galloway is the Wisconsin Badgers football beat writer for the Wisconsin State Journal.