Chryst-finishing out 2018 class

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst speaks during an Orange Bowl press conference at the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. Miami and Wisconsin will play each other in the Orange Bowl game on Saturday night. M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL

M.P. KING STATE JOURNAL

Last week, Junipero Serra (Calif.) High wide receiver John Jackson had loosely compiled a hectic travel schedule that would take him halfway across the country and back multiple times in a short period, squeezing the most that he could out of the final weeks before one of his life's biggest decisions.

With about three weeks remaining before National Signing Day on Feb. 7, Jackson said he still wanted to visit the University of Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa State and UCLA and was willing to take some mid-week trips to provide himself time with each of those programs.

"We're going to be cramming it in at the last minute," Jackson said, "so it's going to be kind of hard."

Per 247sports, Jackson canceled the first of those visits - to UW last weekend - at the last minute, stating he "wanted to go somewhere different." Jackson did not return calls or texts about the possibility of rescheduling his trip to Madison.

After appearing to be a potential final piece to the Badgers' 2018 recruiting class earlier in the month, the three-star prospect looks to be going in a different direction.

UW signed all 19 of its commitments during the first-ever early signing period in December, making the month of January a seemingly much less frantic experience for the Badgers as National Signing Day approaches. The coaching staff, however, has yet to produce a late commitment this month that could elevate the final version of UW's 2018 class.

The Badgers aren't desperate for another scholarship signee. Jackson himself would have served as somewhat of a luxury. UW already has three wide receivers signed in its 2018 class, along with plenty of young talent already on the roster at that position.

With at least one more spot available for a scholarship player, however, the Badgers are attempting to take advantage and add more talent. Jackson, whose father played at Southern California before spending four seasons in the NFL, comes from a high school that currently has three wide receivers - Robert Woods, Marquise Lee and Paul Richardson - playing at the highest level.

Now that Jackson appears to be a long shot, however, cornerback Jairus Brents may be the most likely addition over the next couple weeks.

Brents ranks as the 228th-best prospect in the 2018 class, per 247sports' composite rankings, and earned a four-star rating from every major recruiting site until Rivals recently dropped him to three stars.

The Louisville native is reportedly leaning towards a commitment to Pitt after visiting the Panthers last week, but the Badgers still have an opportunity to close on Brents as the highly-rated prospect expects to be currently visiting UW this weekend.

Unlike Jackson, adding Brents could help fill a major need, as the Badgers' cornerback position is currently filled with sophomores and freshmen who don't own much, if any, experience.

UW also extended an offer to consensus four-star defensive end/outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste this month, but it's likely too late in the recruiting process to lure the Oradell, N.J., native to Madison.

Even if the Badgers are unable to secure their top targets this month, they've developed a head start on the 2019 class - receiving five verbal commitments thus far - and coach Paul Chryst already voiced his pleasure with the incoming recruits that signed last month.

"We're certainly really excited about them, and you should be. Otherwise, you shouldn't have gone out and recruited them," Chryst said on BTN after UW's 2018 commitments signed Dec. 20. "I think this group is a good fit for this team and for this university. I know they're going to add value to this group right now."

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