Wisconsin's fax machine likely didn't run out of ink Feb. 1 as the Badgers signed only 12 football recruits, five fewer than any other team in the Big Ten.
Badgers coach Bret Bielema actually thought the class would be nine or 10, as some roster spots opened up late, including that of center Peter Konz, who decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. The small class left some Wisconsin fans less than thrilled, but the release of the team's spring roster Thursday provides an explanation.
Wisconsin opens spring practice with just nine seniors on the roster. Only one of them, star running back Montee Ball, is a true senior, while the other eight are entering their fifth years. Eight of the seniors are scholarship players.
Every team redshirts players, Wisconsin has taken things to the extreme in recent years.
While Wisconsin has just nine players of senior eligibility, it has 25 (!) redshirt juniors along with three true juniors: running back James White, wide receiver Manasseh Garner and defensive lineman Beau Allen.
The small senior class and large junior class means Wisconsin likely will sign another small class in February 2013.
The trend continues with Wisconsin's sophomore class, which includes 27 redshirt sophomores and five true sophomores. Wisconsin redshirted only 22 freshmen in 2011, but it's pretty clear the approach the coaches are taking.
Redshirting clearly means more in Madison than the jersey players will wear on fall Saturdays. There are certainly benefits to keeping players in the program for five years, but it also increases the pressure to offer and sign the right recruits as there aren't as many open scholarships.