Many high school football standouts in Wisconsin go on to big things at the college level and in the pros, and this is our spot to recognize those athletes each week and help you keep up with what is going down on some of your favorite players from the past. If you have alumni news, please send it to Colton Wilson
High school football is already in week 3 of the regular season around the state of Wisconsin, meaning the next wave of college football hopefuls have already begun their 2023 season campaign. Last weekend the college football season began with a "Week 0" that saw a handful of games serve as a teaser for the real opening week, this weekend.
As in years past, hundreds of former Wisconsin high school football standouts will be taking the field for colleges of all divisions. This article will preview those that will be suiting up at the Division 1 FBS and FCS levels.
By my research, 149 alumni will be suiting up for 46 different schools in the FBS. That number of next level FBS athletes is the exact same as the previous season. 109 more will take the field for 30 different FCS teams. Hundreds more alumni will be playing at the Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and JUCO levels as well.
College ball won't be the only level that former Wisconsin high school football standouts will shine this year. The NFL will once again be home to a good number of players from the Badger state. Stay tuned for an article and list of those that will play at football's highest level.
This season, our weekly Football Alumni Round-Up will be your way to stay in touch with those former high school standouts from across the state and their careers at the next level.
A full list of FBS and FCS athletes can be found at the bottom of this article.
Braelon Allen of Fond du Lac
Luke Fickell is in at Wisconsin and the excitement/allure around the team is at the highest I've seen in a while. As expected, Wisconsin has the most former alumni of any Division 1 roster in the country, having 44 former in-state standouts named to the fall roster. We all know Braelon Allen of Fond du Lac and Chimere Dike of Waukesha North as household names for the Wisconsin Badgers. Another that has made a big impact in years past are CJ Goetz of Catholic Memorial who earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2022.
The Badgers have always had top offensive lineman from the state and this year Jack Nelson (Stoughton) and Tanor Bortolini (Kewaunee) are listed as starters for week one with Joe Brunner (Whitefish Bay), JP Benzschawel (Grafton) and Trey Wedig (Kettle Moraine) listed on the two-deep.
Hunter Wohler of Muskego is primed for a breakout season after spending much of 2022 on the sideline due to injury. Others who may push for playing time on the defense are Ben Barten (Stratford), Cade McDonald (Hudson) and Owen Arndt (Arrowhead).
Billy Schrauth of Saint Mary's Springs and Carson Hinzman of Saint Croix Central were two of the top three players in the Class of 2022 in the state. Schrauth, now at Notre Dame and Hinzman at Ohio State were both working with the number one offensive line units at times during fall camp. Wisconsin may have missed out on these two, but they are primed to make an impact for two of the better programs in the nation. Another that may be looking at their first snaps this season on the o-line is Tyler Cooper (Saint Croix Falls) at Minnesota.
Long snapper isn't a position that gets headlines, accolades or even mentioned when it comes to player rankings, stats or game notes. However, there are a fair share of them listed on rosters throughout the country from the state. That list includes previous starters Luke Elkin (Neenah) at Iowa, Thomas Peterson (Homestead) at Jacksonville State, Eli Stein (Cambridge) at Arkansas, and Brett Welsin (West De Pere) at Drake.
Others are Duncan McKinley (Eau Claire Memorial) at Wisconsin, Jacob Lyftogt (Waunakee) at Iowa State, Mitchell Dietzel (Catholic Central) at Eastern Michigan, Brett Le Blanc (Elkhorn) at Missouri, Jordan Franke (Verona) at South Carolina, Bobby Cleary (Slinger) at Campbell, Caleb Bowers (Whitefish Bay) at North Dakota State and JD Czech (Chippewa Falls) at Southern Illinois.
The MVC has the second most alumni of any conference by far. Nine of the twelve league teams carry at least one player from the Badger State.
A few standouts include Josh Dinga of Sun Prairie. Dinga enter his senior year at Illinois State with ten and a half tackles for loss and five sacks in his career.
North Dakota has a few contributors back from last year's squad in defensive backs CJ Siegel (La Crosse Logan) and Kadon Kauppinen (Sun Prairie) as well as offensive lineman East Kilty (Stratford) and defensive lineman Jaelon Johnson (Greendale).
Perennial powerhouse North Dakota State has Jake Lippe (Port Washington), Cole Wisniewski (Sparta), Sam Jung (Neenah), Joe Stoffel (River Falls) and Dylan Hendricks (Pulaski) who all made impacts on the gridiron last year.
CJ Goetz of Catholic Memorial
Braelon Allen is one of the best running backs in the entire country. Last season, the Fond du Lac grad rushed for 1,242 yards and eleven touchdowns for Wisconsin. He also passed for a score as he was named to the Second Team All-Big Ten team.
Tanor Bortolini established himself on the starting offensive line last year, making ten starts. The Kewaunee grad earned All-Big Ten honors and is primed to only get better in his junior season.
Evan Buss, a Kimberly grad, started just eight games last year but earned Second Team All-MAC honors for Northern Illinois.
John Champe like teammate Buss was named a Second Team All-MAC player for Northern Illinois. The Brookfield East grad started eleven games last year for the Huskies.
Chimere Dike has been a playmaker at the wide receiver position for Wisconsin for the past few seasons. The Waukesha North grad comes into 2023 as the elder statesmen in the wide receiver room after earning Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors las year. He hauled in 47 catches for 689 yards and six scores; adding a rushing touchdown as well.
Cole Godbout has been a terror in the Mountain West for years now. The Hudson grad had 33 tackles and four and a half for loss from the defensive tackle position for Wyoming last year, earning him Honorable Mention All-Mountain West honors.
CJ Goetz has battled and earned his starting position at outside linebacker at Wisconsin. The Catholic Memorial grad showed out last season tallying 61 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two sacks en route to an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten nod.
Averie Habas was a NJCAA All-American at Iowa Western CC and this past season he earned Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt for Southern Miss. The Rice Lake grad had 39 tackles, ten tackles for loss, and three sacks in his junior season.
Joe Heffernan transferred to Duke this year after spending the past five at Dartmouth. In 2022, the Marquette University grad had 98 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one and a half sacks as he was named to the Second Team All-Ivy League squad.
Ben Hoitink is also transferring to Duke this season after playing the past few seasons at Ivy League Penn. The Slinger grad started 20 games at Penn and was named Second Team All-Ivy last year.
Marcus Mbow started fourteen games at Purdue last year and is primed to break out once again in 2023. Mbow, a Wauwatosa West alum, earned Honorable Mention All-Big 10 honors in his first season starting on the line.
Jack Nelson is one of the top offensive lineman in the Big 10 and is on an upward trajectory towards improving his draft stock at Wisconsin. The Stoughton grad was named to the Honorable Mention All-Big Ten team for the second straight season.
Tejhaun Palmer had a breakout year at wide receive for UAB last year. The Brown Deer grad hauled in 30 catches for 479 yards and two scores last year as he earned Honorable Mention All-Conference USA accolades as a junior.
Quentin Redding was a weapon for Minnesota in his second year on campus. The Menomonee Falls grad totaled 586 return yards while handling both kick and punt return duties. Redding earned an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection by the coaches.
Eli Stein served as the long snapper for Arkansas last season as a freshman. The Cambridge standout was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team at the long snapper position.
Logan Zschernitz is the third Northern Illinois lineman on this list to have made the All-MAC team. The Spencer grad has started 30 consecutive games and is a two-time second team honoree.
Sam Hafner had an incredibly dominant season at the defensive line position last year at Valparaiso. The De Pere grad tallied 65 tackles, nine for loss, five sacks and forced three fumbles for the Beacons. He was named to the Second Team All-Pioneer League as a sophomore.
CJ Siegel had his best season at defensive back last year for North Dakota. The La Crosse Logan grad had 46 tackles, two blocked kicks, two interceptions and a sack as he earned himself Second Team All-MVC honors.