Our 2018 high school football preview series takes a look back at the Class of 2015 in the Madison area, which has produced college starters in every division of NCAA football.
We took a look at all of the Madison-area players who were ranked by WisSports.net, as well as some who made their way to Division 1 college football at some point in their college careers. Some ranked players never suited up for a college program, but a couple of those stories are noted below.
Click on the player's name to see their current college bio or Twitter profile.
Devin Webster (Sun Prairie), DL, Junior at Northern Illinois: Webster attended Arizona Western in 2015-16, where he recorded double-digit sack totals in each of his two seasons there. Webster got a sack in 2017 for NIU, and figures to be in the rotation a bit more for his senior season with the Huskies. When he attended Arizona Western, he played alongside one of the top-rated players in the 2014 class: Craig Evans, his teammate at Sun Prairie. He also played with former Sun Prairie teammate Aaron Fischer, a fullback, in 2017 at NIU. Webster was the highest-rated area player coming out of high school in 2015. (#94 in the picture above)
Ty DeForest (Marshall), LB, Junior at Illinois State: After redshirting his first college season as a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin, DeForest has emerged as a starter after transferring to Illinois State. DeForest recorded 35 tackles and two sacks in 2017, playing in all 11 games. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, DeForest played in all 12 contests, primarily on special teams, and had two tackles. DeForest keeps a pretty active Twitter feed, primarily with sports topics.
Jamari Manuel (Madison East), DB, Senior at St. Cloud State: Manuel was rated as a top running back in the state coming out of high school, but plies his trade defensively for St. Cloud State. Manuel won the Minnesota Vikings' Heart of a Viking award as a freshman in 2015 for perseverance, and has recorded interceptions in two of his three seasons on campus. Last year, he played in all 11 games for the Huskies, recording 32 tackles and breaking up or defending 19 passes.
Alex Zacharias (Stoughton), LB, Senior at UW-Whitewater: Zacharias wasn't among the top-ranked players in the state as a senior, but he's played his way into a big role on the Warhawks defense. He's played in 24 career games, racking up four sacks as a junior after forcing three fumbles (recovering one) as as sophomore in 2016.
Nate Tranel (Lancaster), S, Junior at UW-Whitewater: Tranel initially attended Minnesota State-Mankato for two seasons, playing in all 11 games as a redshirt freshman while recording six tackles and scoring a touchdown on a punt return. Tranel transferred back to his home state and was third on the team in tackles as a sophomore in 2017, while also making one interception and two pass breakups. Tranel took over the starting safety role mid-way through the Warhawks' season, playing in all ten games.
Jackson Riley (Monona Grove), TE, Junior at Minnesota-Duluth: Riley caught one pass and played in seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2016 for Western Illinois. He transferred to UMD, where former WIU coach Bob Nelson is now working.
Trey Powers (Monona Grove), WR, Senior at St. Norbert: Powers caught four passes in 2017 as a junior, after grabbing one pass as a sophomore. He's all about Wisconsin sports on Twitter. Powers has earned two letters at St. Norbert.
Jesse Collins (Delavan-Darien), LB, Junior at Concordia-St. Paul: A high school quarterback, Collins made the all-conference academic team this past season and appeared in seven games after making the switch to play primarily on defense in college. He didn't record a stat as a sophomore.
Josh Sromovsky (Oregon), played DE at Illinois State: Sromovsky was a wide receiver and safety in high school, but played as an edge rusher for Illinois State, adding bulk to handle the position. In his redshirt freshman season of 2016, Sromovsky recorded two tackles in three games. The Oregon grad is no longer playing football, at least due in part according to this article because of a back injury.
Zach Stecklein (Mount Horeb), LB, Junior at St. Cloud State: Stecklein hasn't gotten on the field for the Huskies yet. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining after a successful high school career at Mount Horeb.
Noah Diaz (Sun Prairie), RB, Sophomore at Friends University (Kansas): After an initial stop at Fort Scott Community College, Diaz became the leading rusher at Friends University in Kansas, rushing for 853 yards and six touchdowns in 2017 as a freshman at the NAIA school.
Troy Laufenberg (Waunakee), played RB at Wisconsin: After a redshirt year and no action in 2016, Laufenberg didn't appear on the Wisconsin roster after 2016. According to his Twitter bio, he still attends Wisconsin. Laufenberg had attempted to join the program as a walk-on.
Mitchell Herl (Middleton), played TE at Wisconsin: Much like Laufenberg, Herl tried to walk on at Wisconsin, but after a redshirt year, didn't get any playing time as a freshman. On his Twitter bio, Herl, who still attends college at Wisconsin, indicates his graduation year of 2019 from UW-Madison.
Tyler Glass (Lancaster), played RB at UW-Whitewater: After rushing for 294 yards and four touchdowns his freshman year at UW-Whitewater, Glass has apparently transitioned to intramural football at the college.
Ricky Williams (Edgerton), ?: Despite my best efforts on Google, I can't figure out whatever became of the state's leading rusher in 2013, who was once featured in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd selection.
Photo: Getty Images
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