Wisconsin adds huge piece to 2021 recruiting class

Wisconsin’s remarkable 2021 recruiting class got even better Tuesday night.

Five-star offensive tackle Nolan Rucci (Lititz, Penn.) announced his decision to commit to the Badgers during an appearance on CBS Sports HQ. The 6-foot-8, 295-pound Rucci is the brother of current Wisconsin tight end Hayden Rucci.

Ranked as the 14th-best player in nation, and the No. 5 offensive tackle, Rucci would be the third-highest rated player to come to Wisconsin since the beginning of the online recruiting era, which dates back to 2000. Only tackles Josh Ogelsby (2007) and Logan Brown (2019) were ranked higher than Rucci, according to the 247Sports Composite.

“I love how (offensive line) coach (Joe Rudolph) coaches his guys,” Rucci said. “The development is obvious as you can see with the guys they are putting in the NFL in recent years and the guys they are going to be putting in the NFL. I’m excited to be a part of that process and make my mark.”

At the beginning of his recruitment, many thought Rucci would end up at Penn State. He grew up just two hours from State College, and his father, Todd, and his mother, Stacy, were athletes at the university. But the Badgers history of putting offensive linemen into the NFL, his comfort level with the program having been around it the last few years and the presence of his brother helped Wisconsin overcome the Nittany Lions and grab the No. 1 player in the state of Pennsylvania.

Wisconsin also beat out Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma and many more for Rucci’s services.

Rucci’s commitment leaves the Badgers with three of the top 17 tackles in the country, as he joins 4-star recruits JP Benzschawel (Grafton, Wis.) and Riley Mahlman (Lakeville, Minn.). Overall, Wisconsin has six players that are at least 4-star commits, the most the program has ever gotten in a single recruiting cycle.

The Badgers now have 17 commits in the 2021 class, which was ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten and No. 17 in the country prior to Rucci’s commitment. Wisconsin has never finished higher than No. 26 in the final rankings.