Paul Chryst is officially on the job as Wisconsin Badgers head football coach, and that means time to evaluate the roster and take in Outback bowl preparations. It also means finding a coaching staff that will work.
However, nothing is more important that sitting down and figuring out what his first Wisconsin Badgers team looks like, evaluating its strengths and weaknesses and gameplanning a way forward for this team.
As players though, a new hire can mean a fresh start or the end of something theyâ€™ve been working hard towards. Luckily for most players, a Paul Chryst offense is one based on accentuating the skill sets available and minimizing the weaknesses.
But, for some players this hire has a bigger impact than most. Thatâ€™s where we come in, as we give you a look at the 10 offensive players most impacted by the hire of Paul Chryst. Some will be familiar names, others newcomers to the roster.
Letâ€™s take a look at the 10 players we see being most impacted by the hire of Paul Chryst.
10. Derek Watt, FB
While the Badgers offense under Chryst loved to use a two tight end set often, there was a very significant role for fullbacks in his offense. That should be music to the middle Watt brotherâ€™s ears, as his role hasnâ€™t been all that significant over the first two years of his career.
Sure, Watt was slowed this season by injury and surgery, but expect him to be 100 percent ready to go this spring. Also working in his favor is the athletic ability heâ€™s shown so far in his career. If thereâ€™s one thing we know about Chrystâ€™s offenses, itâ€™s that he will find a way to get the ball in the hands of those with athletic ability and playmaking potential.
Watt may not have been able to showcase that this season, but look back at 2013 and you could see the beginnings of a great pass catcher out of the backfield. Unlike Ludwig, Chryst will know exactly what to do with a talent like Watt.
9. George Rushing, WR
No doubt the highly-touted 2014 wide receiver recruiting class didnâ€™t live up to early billing in terms of production on the field. However, it doesnâ€™t mean we didnâ€™t see glimpses of the talent possessed by the group. One doesnâ€™t need to look any further than Rushing for an example of that.
For all the hype, Rushing was the most consistent performer from the group of three true freshman wide receivers. He had five receptions for 62 yards and averaged 12.5 yards per reception, ranking him fourth on the wide receiver depth chart for receptions.
Again, this is a talent that Chryst can work with and help him grow even further with a spring to concentrate on his craft. It wouldnâ€™t surprise me to see him emerge from the spring as one of the most talked about players on the offensive side of the ball.
8. Krenwick Sanders, WRÂ
Thereâ€™s no doubt that Wisconsin needs multiple receiving options, and Sanders, along with Rushing, got time on the field during his freshman season. He had just one reception for 10 yards though, and that wonâ€™t fly moving forward.
Again, this is an offense that will require deep threats (ala Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis among others). Looking at the recruiting tape, Sanders has the potential to be the next big deep threat for the Badgers, but adding some seasoning is going to be required.
Letâ€™s see who stays or who comes in as wide receivers coach, because Sandersâ€™ raw talent could be explosive as he grows over the spring.
7. Austin Kafentzis, QB
The Badgers appear to be set with Kafentzis, as he has given every indication that heâ€™ll be enrolling at UW in January. He hasnâ€™t been shy about loving the game of Russell Wilson, the former Badger and current Seattle Seahawks QB. Guess who just so happened to coach Wilson to his most productive season of his career? Yep, Paul Chryst.
Considering Chryst will be working with the QBs heavily, it is intriguing to think of the skill set Kafentzis has and the things weâ€™ve seen Chryst do with that kind of talent. I mean, weâ€™re talking about a quarterback who threw for over 13,000 yards, 115 touchdowns, while rushing for almost 7,000 yards and 103 touchdowns in four years at Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah.
What he does need is better accuracy, completing just 56.7 percent of his passes and throwing 63 interceptions during his high school career. Thatâ€™s something Chryst and the offensive coaching staff can really help him work on.
Thereâ€™s no doubt that this could be a dynamic match, but donâ€™t be fooled by the huge numbers put up in high school â€” thereâ€™s still a lot to work on before heâ€™s ready to take over the reigns. The question may be, just how quickly he makes those adjustments.
6. Walker Williams, OT
One of the least talked about things coming up for the Badgers is just what the offensive line is going to look like. UW will need to replace first-team All-Big Ten right tackle Rob Havenstein along with both guards. That means a lot of change is coming, along with running back Melvin Gordon leaving early for the NFL Draft.
One of the biggest keys to a good running game is a mauler at right tackle, and next in line behind Havenstein appears to be either Hayden Biegel or Walker Williams. My early money is on Williams because of the experience and the fact that heâ€™ll be a junior and can gain experience while Tyler Marz finishes out his career at UW.
If Wisconsin brings back Bob Bostad it could really mean big things for someone like Williams. He will be a key cog to the new look Badgers offensive line, and adding a new offensive line coach to the mix could be just what he needs.