Sting Factor: Roderick Pierce backs off Wisconsin pledge
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.
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When Roderick Pierce III committed to Wisconsin in May it was a big win for the coaching staff because the Chicago Brother Rice prospect is a versatile defensive lineman who can play a lot of spots.
Recruiting some top defensive linemen in the 2023 class was a big priority and it was looking good for the Badgers, who had Pierce, Jamel Howard and Jordan Mayer locked up.
Only Mayer remains.
In recent days, Pierce backed off his pledge, which was amplified by the coaching changes in Madison. It could have involved the surprise move to hire former Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell and not retain Jim Leonhard, who was named the interim coach when Paul Chryst was fired.
Pierce and Howard are now back on the market and it would not be a surprise to see both land at Michigan. Mayer has stayed in the class but there could be more turnover as Fickell puts his own stamp on the recruiting class.
Texas, Auburn, Michigan State and others have offered Pierce over the last month, but a recent visit to Ann Arbor was telling.
Pierce announced his decision to decommit from Wisconsin on Sunday, but this was news many expected to happen for the last few weeks. Like many commits for the Badgers in the 2023 class, Pierce was closely connected to Leonhard, whose future with the program is uncertain with Fickell now carrying the title of head coach.
Even if it was expected, Pierce’s decision was a significant blow for the Badgers, who also lost fellow Illinois defensive lineman Jamel Howard just a few days ago. The two – Howard, a true nose guard, and Pierce, a versatile option along the line – seem to complement each other very well. Now, the duo could wind up in the Big Ten with the Wolverines, which would amplify the Sting Factor for the Badgers.
Fickell is now looking at a 2023 commit list with just nine pledges and zero projected scholarship defensive linemen. – Jon McNamara, BadgerBlitz.com
Sting Factor: 8
With coaching turnover there will almost always be changes in the recruiting class, but this one is particularly tough because Pierce has seen his recruitment take off in recent months and the Badgers couldn’t fend off some competitors – including a major one in the Big Ten.
I’m confident Fickell will right the ship in Madison and get a more cohesive recruiting strategy going there, but if Michigan can come in and pick off top prospects in the class it’s going to be worrisome. That has not been a longstanding trend, but it looks like it’s happened here. – Adam Gorney, Rivals national recruiting director
Sting Factor: 8