A day after addressing the need for a quarterback in his inherited recruiting class with junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy, new Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen reeled in another commitment from a JUCO player to address needs in the secondary.
Needing to replace three starting defensive backs from last season’s team with just safety Dezmen Southward returning, Andersen took the first step toward replenishing the depleted positional group by securing a verbal commitment from safety and JUCO All-American Donnell Vercher of Fresno (Calif.) City College.
Vercher, a three-star recruit according to ESPN.com, will be the first player from Fresno City College to play at a Big Ten school since wide receiver Arsenio Curry signed with Purdue in 2008.
The 6-foot-2 and 195-pound safety had 23 tackles and eight interceptions this past season for the Rams, helping to lead the team to a 8-3 record in 2012 and a tie for first place atop the Northern California Valley conference. In 2011 Vercher recorded three interceptions and 29 tackles.
Andersen and his defensive coordinator Dave Aranda recruited Vercher during their time at Utah State. Vercher chose Wisconsin over Fresno State, where he was once a soft verbal-commit, and Syracuse.
The commitment adds security to a Badgers recruiting class that is severely lacking at safety. Vercher remains the lone safety commit in the 2013 recruiting class. Wisconsin adds more depth to their secondary with two cornerback recruits in Keelon Brooking, a three-star recruit and the No. 76 cornerback in the nation and Sojourn Shelton, a four-star recruit and the No. 27 cornerback in the nation.
Both Brooking and Shelton have already enrolled at Wisconsin for the spring semester.
Andersen and the Badgers also continue to target Marcus Ball, the brother of Wisconsin’s offensive lineman Ray Ball and the No. 67 athlete in the nation, according to ESPN.com. Ball was initially a solid verbal-commit to the Badgers but wavered after the departure of former head coach Bret Bielema. A starting quarterback and safety for Westerville South High School in Ohio, Ball will decide between Wisconsin and Arizona State on Signing Day.