The football season may be over, but spring camp is around the corner for the Wisconsin Badgers. First, we take a look at the position battles on offense heading into the 2017 season.
Click here for the defensive preview.
The obvious player with the upper hand to start this coming season for the Badgers is redshirt sophomore Alex Hornibrook, and in fact this could be the first season in what seems like forever the quarterback position is not a question mark. Starting for most of the season and splitting time with senior Bart Houston, Hornibrook was effective, throwing for a nearly-60 percent completion percentage and gaining over 1,200 yards through the air. Really, the only questionable thing about his play last season was his decision making, which led to seven interceptions. With one year of experience under his belt, though, that decision making should only get better.
The second string is a lot less settled. New recruit Jack Coan is a highly-touted playmaker out of New York and has the skill set to have an impact on this program sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, sophomore Karé Lyles will participate in his first spring practice session, as last year, a hip injury kept him out for most of the offseason.
Projection – QB1: Alex Hornibrook; QB2: Jack Coan; QB3: Karé Lyles
Just as the quarterback position is finally not a question mark, the running back position, once a steady rock, is not as steady as it used to be. Redshirt sophomore Bradrick Shaw showed flashes of being the next great Wisconsin RB to carry the torch. Shaw will have the edge with Taiwan Deal reportedly missing spring camp. Shaw posted 457 yards and a 5.2 yards per carry mark this past season to go along with five touchdowns. Pittsburgh transfer Chris James will also be in the mix with Deal injured.
Projection – RB1: Bradrick Shaw; RB2: Chris James; RB3: Taiwan Deal
The Badgers are blessed with two stud fullbacks – senior Austin Ramesh and junior Alec Ingold will once again lead the way for whoever is playing at RB. Both were effective fullbacks last year with neither of them pulling away as the clear better player. Ramesh reached pay dirt three times last season and Ingold scored twice. Wisconsin has always produced top tier fullbacks, such as Los Angeles Charger Derek Watt, and these two are no different.
With the FB position very physically demanding, and small injuries are likely over the course of the year, the Badgers may once again try redshirt senior Leon Jacobs at the position. Jacobs is a linebacker by trade, but with depth once again at inside linebacker, Jacobs could add depth to the FB position.
Projection – FB1: Austin Ramesh; FB2: Alec Ingold
This position group is quickly becoming one of the most talented groups on the Badgers’ team. With their leading receiver Jazz Peavy back for his senior year, the Badgers should see steady production. With almost 1,000 total yards of offense (over 300 rushing and over 600 receiving) and six total touchdowns, Peavy is the best playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. Behind Peavy, senior George Rushing should get a chance to secure the second receiver spot and for the third spot, sophomores A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus will most likely battle it out. Taylor showed early promise of being an all-around stud receiver, but Cephus’s unbelievable speed got him more reps as the 2016 season went on.
Danny Davis, a four-star recruit out of Ohio will also be in the mix. Davis is the highest rated wide receiver the Badger have recruited in over a decade.
Projection – WR1: Jazz Peavy; WR2: Quintez Cephus; WR3: A.J. Taylor; WR4: George Rushing
Senior Troy Fumagalli, the Badgers’ second leading receiver will be a main stay, not only at the position, but as an offensive playmaker. In 2016, he totaled 47 catches, 580 yards and two touchdowns. Backing him up, the Badgers have a stud tight end in the making in Kyle Penniston. In very limited action, the then-freshman got six receptions for 102 yards and found the end zone twice in 2016.
Projection – TE1: Troy Fumagalli; TE2: Kyle Penniston
The departure of stud tackle Ryan Ramcyzk hurts, but the offensive line should only improve in consistency and ability. Beau Benzschawel and Jon Dietzen will likely anchor the line at the guard position. Both played consistently well for the Badgers over the course of last season, and with another year of experience under their belts, should continue improving.
At tackle, David Edwards will likely continue protecting the blind side. But with Ramcyzk gone, the left side is open for the taking. Redshirt freshman Cole Van Lanen, a top recruit from their 2016 class, will have a good shot at taking the left tackle position. Getting the snaps at the center position should fall once again to Micheal Deiter.
Providing depth on the line at various positions throughout the coming season will most likely be junior Micah Kapoi and freshman Kayden Lyles.
Projection – LT: Cole Van Lanen; LG: Jon Dietzen; C: Michael Keiter; RG: Beau Benzschawel; RT: David Edwards