With the rest of Wisconsin’s fall camp closed to the media, here’s what our staff believes will be the team’s depth chart heading into Lambeau Field. Please note this can change with injuries; this is our first projection for each position.
Paul Chryst has made it clear that no one has won the job yet, but redshirt senior Bart Houston has been stringing together some nice practices. Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook started the offseason strong, but has shown a knack for throwing interceptions. While it is only practice, Houston has limited his mistakes compared to Hornibrook and made progress in getting the ball down field.
In Monday’s practice, Houston had the first team offense rolling, stringing together a nice drive against the first team defense. Even with injuries and poor play effecting the play of the offensive line, Houston was able to lead the offense down field.
On Tuesday, Houston played well once again, and by our calculations, received more reps than Hornibrook. Both players still received first-team reps.
As the guy with more experience who’s committing less mistakes, Houston has the #1 spot in our book. Still, Chryst has not picked his guy, so we’ll keep them both tied at the top.
QB1: Bart Houston/Alex Hornibrook
QB3: Karé Lyles
Wisconsin is, and always will be, a running back university. The three-headed monster of Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale, and Taiwan Deal will see the majority of carries in 2016, barring injuries. Although 2015 was a very down year for Wisconsin’s run game, Clement is healthy, Ogunbowale looks to build off of a solid end of the 2015 season, and Taiwan Deal, who got a lot of experience his freshman year, has seemed to improve in every aspect of his game.
Clement will be the starter come kickoff, but all three will see the ball and contribute to the first team offense. Bradrick Shaw has looked good in camp too, and could get some garbage time carries.
RB1: Corey Clement
RB2: Taiwan Deal
RB3 (3rd down back): Dare Ogunbowale
RB4: Bradrick Shaw
Austin Ramesh appears to be the Badgers’ opening game starter as of now. After seeing longtime starter Derek Watt go to the NFL, Ramesh will have big shoes to fill. He has been taking most first team reps.
Sophomore Alec Ingold, who played some snaps at running back last season after being being recruited as a linebacker, also has seen first team reps. Redshirt Leon Jacobs, another converted linebacker, is new to the position as well, but also a new face on offense that could see some time.
FB1: Austin Ramesh
FB2: Alec Ingold/Leon Jacobs
Senior Rob Wheelwright and redshirt junior Jazz Peavy will lead the group. Peavy, who is now officially cleared to play in full after being limited with an injury, is poised to be the consistent hands receiver that Wisconsin has come to know and love (see Alex Erickson or Jared Abbrederis), while Wheelwright’s athleticism gives him big play potential every Saturday gameday.
Junior George Rushing has also shown he can become a very valuable third receiver for the Badgers. as he has had a tremendous offseason all the way back to the Spring Game where he and Hornibrook hooked up for long touchdown passes.
Behind those three are senior Reggie Love and freshman A.J. Taylor, who appear to be fighting for the fourth WR spot. Love has more experience, but Taylor has shown major potential and may prove hard to keep off the field after catching five balls for close to 100 yards in the team’s second fall camp scrimmage.
Freshmen Quintez Cephus and Kendric Pryor may also see some looks if injuries hit or the other receivers struggle. Cephus especially has big play potential.
WR1: Robert Wheelright
WR2: Jazz Peavy
WR3: George Rushing
WR4: Reggie Love/A.J. Taylor
At tight end, redshirt junior Troy Fumagalli will most likely be the starter. At Monday’s practice though, he was out with a right arm injury. Filling in for him was redshirt sophomore Kyle Penniston. Working with the first team, Penniston looked right at home making some tough catches and getting some yardage after his catches. The 6’5″ Zander Neuville has switched to tight end after playing at defensive tackle.
TE1: Troy Fumagalli
TE2: Kyle Penniston/Eric Steffes
TE4: Zander Neuville
Up front in the trenches, the offensive line has been shifting during fall camp – a lot. Already a unit with little to no experience, injuries have done the Badgers no favors. Redshirt junior Ryan Ramczyk, projected starting left tackle, is currently out with a left leg injury, continuing the revolving door on the offensive line. It was announced on Tuesday that redshirt senior Dan Voltz would be retiring from football, which means Micah Kapoi will get the first try at left guard. Converted tight end David Edwards has gotten reps at tackle, as well as New Berlin native Brett Connors. Jon Dietzen will serve as a serviceable backup at guard.
If Ramczyk is healthy come kick off, the projected offensive line will be:
LT: Ryan Ramcyzk
LG: Micah Kapoi
C: Michael Deiter
RG: Beau Benzshawel
RT: Jacob Maxwell
But with injuries plentiful up front and play very inconsistent, don’t expect the same starters every week.
Up front, Olive Sagapolu is going to be the starter at nose tackle and lead a front three where he is flanked by junior Conor Sheehy and redshirt junior Chikwe Obasih at the defensive end positions. Ends Billy Hirschfield and Alec James have also seen first team reps and figure to see playing time on Saturdays. Look for true freshman Garrett Rand to compete for some downs at nose tackle as well.
DE1: Conor Sheehy, Chikwe Obasih
DE2: Alec James, Billy Hirschfeld
NT1: Olive Sagapolu
NT2: Garrett Rand, Jeremy Patterson
At outside linebacker, the Badgers are set. With senior Vince Biegel and redshirt junior T.J. Watt manning the outside, most of the playing time will go to them. The two should have no problem stopping opposing offenses.
Inside of those two, Jack Cichy and Chris Orr have been getting most of the first team reps. T.J. Edwards would be starting, but due to an injury, it seems more and more likely he will miss the season opener.
OLB: Vince Biegel
ILB: Jack Cichy
ILB: Chris Orr
OLB: T.J. Watt
Injured: T.J. Edwards (foot)
In the secondary, the Badgers seem to have a nice balance of experience and youth.
Elder statesman Sojourn Shelton is entering his final year as a Badger and will lead the way with junior Derrick Tindal starting at the opposite cornerback position. Tindal hurt his knee in practice on Monday, which he considers a sprain. Still, one would expect Tindal to play versus LSU. Junior Natrell Jamerson will round out as the third cornerback, but freshman Caesar Williams has been playing very well and been showing playmaking ability as of late. Williams may see an extended role as the season gets going. Redshirt freshman Titus Booker has also seen reps, but has not looked as good as Williams.
Redshirt senior Leo Musso will most likely be lining up at free safety while junior D’Cota Dixon has been getting a lot of first team reps at the strong safety position. Sophomore Arrington Farrar also has seen some first team reps and could see playing time as well. Secondary coach Jim Leonhard also liked what he’s seen out of true freshman Patrick Johnson at safety.
CB1: Sojourn Shelton
FS1: Leo Musso
SS1: D’Cota Dixon
CB2: Derrick Tindal
CB3 (nickel): Natrell Jamerson
CB4: Caesar Williams/Titus Booker
FS2: Patrick Johnson/Eric Burrell
SS2: Arrington Farrar
One thing is certain on special teams: Rafael Gaglianone will be the team’s kicker. Elsewhere, true freshman Anthony Lotti has won the punter job over redshirt freshman P.J. Rosowski. Andrew Endicott will likely do the team’s kicking duties once again. George Rushing, Corey Clement, and Jazz Peavy seem to be the leaders in the kick and punt return game.
K: Rafael Gaglianone
P: Anthony Lotti
KOS: Andrew Endicott
KR: Natrell Jamerson, George Rushing, Corey Clement
PR: George Rushing, Jazz Peavy, Sojourn Shelton
LS: Connor Udelhoven