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Wisconsin football recruiting: Stephan Bracey, Logan Brown interview

This week, Logan Brown and Stephan Bracey both will sign their national letters of intent to play for the Wisconsin Badgers as members of the class of 2019.

The two teammates from East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Mich., will become one of two sets of high school teammates to sign with UW in this class, joining California products Spencer Lytle and the newly committed Titus Toler from national powerhouse St. John Bosco.

At least one part of their recruiting processes ended the same.

“Of course they’re similar because they ended up at Wisconsin,” East Kentwood head coach Anthony Kimbrough said with a laugh late last month. “I mean, that’s a blessing in itself.”

Their respective recruiting processes were different, however. One committed last November, the other this November. One took an official visit to Madison during a sun-soaked weekend in June; the other just recently wrapped up his official during a wintry weekend in December.

“Sometimes a kid gets seen early, sometimes he’s seen late,” Kimbrough said. “Of course, Logan—at the time when Wisconsin recruited him, he was 6’5, 6’6, he’s grown to 6’7—he was very broad at the time but had that great body and very athletic, so Stephan was a little bit late because he developed late. He got better as the year went on. Both kids are worthy of being in the Big Ten, and I think Wisconsin is going to be happy with those guys.”

A 2019 All-American Bowl participant, Brown is a significant piece of this Wisconsin class. Rated a five-star commit by 247Sports’ composite rankings, he is the No. 17 player in the country and No. 4 offensive. One look at the offer sheets 247Sports and Rivals list on their profiles of the Michigan product reveals a flood of offers from Power Five programs like Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Penn State, and the two main schools in the Wolverine State—Michigan and Michigan State.

Yet Wisconsin held a special spot to Brown early on. During a summer camp between his freshman and sophomore years of high school, he worked with Wisconsin offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph. The relationship continued to bloom and develop since then.

“What really drove me to commit was I really wanted to go to Wisconsin ever since my freshman year, but my parents and family, they kept telling me I had to wait and explore my options type of situation,” Brown said. “But when junior year came around, my sister told me to commit now. ‘It’ll be easier with the process of getting into school and all that.’”

Brown visited Madison in November 2017 for Wisconsin’s final home game of the season against one of his home-state schools, Michigan, and decided to pull the trigger. He still remembers the exact date of his pledge.

“Since freshman year, ‘Oh, this is where I want to go.’ Then that day when they beat Michigan is the day I committed, which was Nov. 19.”

Bracey, a dynamic prep receiver and three-star prospect in 247Sports’ composite rankings, first made contact with Wisconsin during the first game of the 2018 season. The interest continued as he made an unofficial visit to Camp Randall Stadium during the BYU game on Sept. 15.

No offer had been extended from Wisconsin yet, though, and Bracey decided to verbally commit to Western Michigan on Oct. 9.

The next day, Wisconsin and assistant coach Bob Bostad popped up with their offer.

“I was surprised because I didn’t even expect it. I was grateful,” Bracey told B5Q last month.

A decision had to be made. Bracey took nearly four weeks to decide, choosing to flip his commitment to the Badgers. The advice he received from Brown throughout the process made an impact.

“I reached out to him during the early beginning of when I started getting recruited,” Bracey said. “He just talked to me about some things like how recruiting would work. He didn’t really sway me any way. He just gave me advice, like how to see how coaches would react when they first meet you in person and stuff.”

Brown detailed some of the conversation they had when Wisconsin offered.

“Honestly, this is your choice,” Brown said. “I’m not going to be mad at you by any means necessary, but it’s not that four-year, three-year choice—it’s a lifetime decision and just so you know, really break it down. Really think about it. I said I’m not going to bug you about it anymore. I might crack a joke here and there about coming to Wisconsin, but you do you, man.

“I ended up finding out over social media, and I was like, “Welcome to the family.”

That’s right. Brown did not find out until Bracey publicly announced his decision on Nov. 6.

“He was happy because I already knew he wanted me to go there with him and at first, he just respected my decision with committing to Western [Michigan] because I didn’t have an offer at the time,” Bracey said. “He was just excited just to play with me.”

One thing that stands out when talking with Kimbrough about Brown and Bracey is the relationship built up by the Wisconsin coaching staff. Discussions go deeper than just what the players can do on the field and how the program can develop them.

“It was pretty much just when I was talking with the coaches, just how they felt about me not as just a player but as a person too, like my character, and how that stands out to them and my family,” Bracey said. “Just how I fit into their program and playing at a higher level of competition because I believe I can play in the Big Ten. A lot more exposure and stuff like that, stuff that’ll make me better and more competitive and play at a higher level.”

Both recently had in-house visits from Wisconsin during the contact period that concluded last Saturday. For Brown, his chats with the coaches barely addressed football.

“That’s what I love about the coaching staff, is every time I see them, it isn’t a conversation about football,” Brown said. “It’s just a conversation about, “Oh, what’d you do, what’d you learn in class?’ I didn’t think we really talked any football besides how my season went.”

A clip from Bracey’s Hudl profile.

On the field, however, Wisconsin appears to be bringing in two products with lots of upside. Watch Bracey’s senior Hudl highlights, and the receiver showcases speed and agility that allowed him to break off long gains out of the shortest of passes. Kimbrough used “explosive” and “very fast” in describing Bracey, but he also noted another factor in his success.

“More than fast, he’s very elusive,” Kimbrough said. “He makes the game look easy. He’ll take a five-yard pass and turn it into 60-yard runs. He really developed as an overall receiver catching the ball, running routes, blocking—I think the total package. Then he can do so many other things: punt return, kickoff return. He played some defensive back for us, too, so if something happened and you had an injury, he could flip over and play defensive back in a heartbeat. I think his all-around ability to play multiple positions has given him an opportunity to play at that level.”

Brown also recalled how dependable Bracey is, and how his presence helped lead East Kentwood to a 9–2 record this season after 5–4 and 4–5 seasons in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

“He’s very reliable. I don’t think he had any major mistakes or anything this season,” Brown said. “Overall, when we’re going to go into the leader aspect he really steps up, along with a lot of guys on our team this year, in being a leader. That’s why we did so well this season compared to the last two seasons.”

Brown backs up his high rating with his on-field play. Kimbrough noted how his star lineman’s demeanor outside of football is “very approachable” and he is “the nicest kid you’ll ever [meet].” His lineman’s attitude also progressed to where he was “a little bit more finesse” and utilized his athleticism over his opponent as a younger player.

A clip from Brown’s Hudl profile.

“Very gifted in that department for a guy his size. He could almost do a full split if you could picture that, a guy his size, but he has developed a little bit of a nastiness to him,” Kimbrough said. “This year, he’s really done a great job of finishing blocks. Like once he got his hands on you, he would drive you until he got you on your back or on the ground, which just made him that much more intimidating and imposing.”

Brown said that during his sophomore season he “was soft as a marshmallow” but gradually developed that aggressive nature by his senior year.

“For me .. I don’t play with a lot of emotion. I’m not an angry person on the field. I’m a person that I have to think about like, ‘Alright, I see this guy in front of me. I have to destroy him.’ That’s kind of the mindset for me,” Brown said. “I have to really think about what I’m doing, if that makes sense. I always told myself, I said, ‘Well if I want to be the player I know I can and want to be, well then I need to go out here and be the aggressor. I want that ‘dominate’ mindset.”

Last year, two Michigan teammates, West Bloomfield wide receivers Taj Mustapha and A.J. Abbott, signed with Wisconsin’s 2017 class as a broader group of five prep standouts from the state. Now Brown and Bracey extend what is becoming a state pipeline for the Badgers.

“They’re leaders,” Kimbrough said. “Any type of community service that I ask them to do, they do it. We have a mentorship program with our elementary kids. [Brown] goes every other Wednesday and volunteers for that. They don’t hesitate when I ask them to do something.”

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