Sting Factor: DT Jamel Howard decommits from Wisconsin


When a major program loses a key recruit, Rivals.com takes a look at how big of a blow it is to the respective school, analyzing it from a local and national level. To quantify the “sting” of each decommitment, we assign a score from one to 10, with one being no big deal and 10 being a catastrophic hit.

THE STORYLINE

After taking an official visit in the summer, Jamel Howard committed to Wisconsin in late June. It just made a whole lot of sense to him.

The three-star defensive lineman from Chicago Marist loved the Madison campus, his mother was sold on the school and the football program – and the location being just two hours away.

Howard also was developing a great relationship with position coach Ross Kolodziej and that was a significant factor in his commitment as well.

But Howard’s pledge wouldn’t last. In recent days, the Chicago Marist standout backed off his Wisconsin pledge – as the Badgers have yet to name interim coach Jim Leonhard in a permanent role or name another coach. Now it looks like Michigan could emerge as the frontrunner.

The Wolverines offered Howard toward the end of October and he’s expected to be in Ann Arbor this weekend.

Wisconsin has suffered three decommitments this month as receivers Trech Kekahuna and Collin Dixon also backed off pledges.

LOCAL REACTION

With current starter Keeanu Benton headed to the NFL and only Gio Paez and Curt Neal listed at the position on the current roster, nose tackle was a significant position of importance for Wisconsin in this cycle. Assistant coach Ross Kolodziej did a very nice job of filling that need by landing commitments from Illinois standouts Jamel Howard and Roderick Pierce this summer. Fast forward a few months, however, and the Badgers are without a head coach and both three-star tackles are headed to Michigan for visits this weekend. Howard publicly announced his decision to decommit from UW on Thursday, while Pierce’s flip feels inevitable over the next few days or weeks.

At 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds, Howard was the plugger in the middle of a 3-4 defense that the Badgers needed in the class. Having seen him in person in late August, Howard moves well and eats up blocks in order for linebackers to make plays. He has a huge lower body and is a force when he gets proper leverage and good pad level. The sting will be even more significant for Wisconsin if he ends up in the Big Ten at Michigan next year. – Jon McNamara, BadgerBlitz.com

Sting Factor: 9

NATIONAL REACTION

After a string of decommitments, and the Badgers might not be done yet, Wisconsin finds itself with the second-fewest commits in the Big Ten with 11 and in second-to-last place in the conference rankings ahead of only Indiana. I understand there is going to be some limbo here as Wisconsin either names Leonhard the full-time coach or finds a new coach (although the former is much more expected) but until that happens, top prospects are going to be hesitant about the situation in Madison.

It’s no coincidence that Howard could end up at Michigan – and that Roderick Pierce is another to watch for the Wolverines – because there is coaching stability and high-level winning there. Once Wisconsin gets its coaching situation settled, recruiting could calm down as well but the sooner the better because a lot of talent – like Howard – is leaving for more certainty. – Adam Gorney, Rivals national recruiting director

Sting Factor: 7

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