Spring football is nearing it's beginning and as such we're beginning our look into what the roster looks like and where the battles for starting spots and depth chart positions are. We began our look into the roster with a look into one of the most wide open positions on this team - the Secondary.
Up today is one of the more interesting positions, interesting because it could be a big time strength. We're talking about the offensive line of course, but a lot is unknown as a new offensive coordinator and O-Line coach are in the fold and that could mean some new players in and some old starters in new spots as well.
This is also a group that while it has some experience back is going to be by-in-large very young. There is only one senior on the roster and six underclassmen on the O-Line this spring. No doubt about it, this will be a fun group to watch and one that may change a bit more than some expect when it's all said and done.
Lost, but Not Forgotten: Ricky Wagner (Left Tackle) and Travis Frederick (Center)
Wagner and Frederick are likely to be 2nd or 3rd round draft picks and while Wagner was a senior last year the Badgers received a mild shock when Frederick left after his redshirt junior season for the NFL. However, this is Wisconsin and life will go on.
Starter(s) Still Here: Ryan Groy (Guard), Rob Havenstein (Tackle), Kyle Costigan (Guard), Zac Matthias (Guard)
New Faces for Spring: Walker Williams & Jake Meador
Technically they aren't new faces to the program, but this will be Williams and Meador's first spring at Wisconsin - so that counts enough for us. Williams is probably higher on the depth chart at the moment and could be a challenger at left tackle, but man is Meador huge. He's currently listed at 6'7" tall and 341lbs. - talk about typical Wisconsin meat grinder of an offensive lineman, huh?
Battles to be Had: LT, C, G
With Ricky Wagner gone and no one having started at left tackle or even right tackle outside of Rob Havenstein (who isn't moving from his position) this is clearly a key area. It's been suggested that the first stab at the job of protecting whomever will be QB1 will go to Ryan Groy, who happens to be one of the most versatile O-Lineman the Badgers have. He's started at both guard positions and center already in his career and he has the agility to make the move outside if this team needs it. The other names to watch at the left tackle spot are redshirt freshman Walker Williams and redshirt sophomore Tyler Marz. Marz was the backup a season ago at the spot, but Williams was one of the more highly touted freshman in the 2012 class.
As for Center? Well, that one likely could be put on lockdown by the star of the 2012 class on the offensive line - Dan Voltz. He was in the picture along the line last year, but was eventually redshirted. A good spring from him could see him have this one all to himself. Expect the biggest battle to come from perhaps Zac Matthias or even Ray Ball, however those are slim hopes for those two if you ask me.
Now, should Groy end up sliding outside that leaves the left guard spot open and that's where things are going to be really interesting to say the least. There isn't anyone I'd consider a lock for that spot and expect the battle to include Dallas Lewellan, Matthias, Ball, and Jake Meador amongst a host of others with outside chances.
To say this offensive line could be in flux going into spring is an understatement. However, fully expect this unit to have some good definition - at the very least in terms of who is really in what battles heading into fall. Most likely I expect us to have a very good working idea of who will be starting where coming out of the spring game.
Name to Watch: Dan Voltz, C
Voltz was so highly thought of last year that he was in the mix at one of the two guard spots during fall camp. Instead Bielema and his staff chose to keep him on the bench and to learn more of the center position. He never saw the field for a game last year but was one of the best offensive lineman, if not the best on the scout team. As a result of not seeing any game action Voltz was able to redshirt and this will be his 2nd full spring in the Badgers program - that can only help in the transition that is sure to be coming. Well, that and being one of the more athletic big men the Badgers have.
Needless to say watching him and his progression this spring is going to be key. We all know that the offensive line is only as good as it's anchor in the middle.