(As Fall Camp approaches us faster than you’d think, we take a look at what to expect from each position group heading in to camp in our “Fall Camp Preview” series)
After talking about the most experienced group on the Badgers roster in 2015, its only fitting we move to perhaps the position with the biggest amount of questions. For the third year in a row the Badgers go in to a season looking to find players to help as pass catchers.
No other position provides so many questions and potential answers on offense as the wide receiver group. Simply put, the 2015 season is put up or shut up time for this group.
Will it be a positive fall camp? Let’s see how things stand heading in to camp, shall we?
What We Know: Alex Erickson — that’s about all you really need to know heading in to the 2015 season. The senior has been Mr. Reliable and Mr. Consistent for the Badgers passing game. Without him, the past two seasons would’ve been brutal in the passing game. Last season he topped the team with 55 receptions (7th in the Big Ten), 772 yards and had three receiving touchdowns.
However, he was the only real down field threat the Badgers had last year and it stunted what UW would’ve liked to have done with the play action passing game.
At tight end, the Badgers have a potential star in the making in sophomore Troy Fumagalli, who is the second leading returning receiver (14 receptions in 2014). They also have a great blocking tight end in senior Austin Traylor, who showcased some more potential in the receiving game this spring. Wisconsin will be in a much better position to use the tight ends this season thanks to the return of Paul Chryst to the offensive play calling.
What We Need To Find Out: Can anyone actually step up and be a second threat for the Badgers in the pass game?
While Troy Fumagalli and Alex Erickson are good starting points, Paul Chryst’s offense only works well when there are more than two options in the passing game. UW fans, media and coaches have ben looking for answers the past two offseason’s and that continues heading in to fall camp for 2015. Junior Rob Wheelwright has all the measurables and physical talent to play a major role, but he has been injured for most of his career to date. He had a good spring, showing flashes of why he was so highly regarded coming in to Wisconsin, but given his injury history its wise to temper any feelings of hope with him until he makes it to the season 100 percent healthy.
Sophomores George Rushing and Krenwick Sanders could be really big threats if they can get it all together. Rushing saw plenty of action as a true freshman last season and he looked capable of getting on the field in a major way during spring practice. His developing relationship with quarterback Joel Stave is going to be the key to making him in to a true deep threat.
It will be up to this group to showcase something other than average in fall camp, especially if the high-scoring offense we’ve come to expect from Paul Chryst coached offenses is to emerge.
Player to Watch: Rob Wheelwright, Jr.
There isn’t a player who has been more talked about based on potential on the offensive side of the ball than Wheelwright. However, he’s also been the most injury prone player in the last few years too.
In the spring, Wheelwright continued to showcase potential as a deep threat and a potential star at the position. That potential needs to carry over to a healthy and productive fall camp if the Badgers offense is capable of taking the next step. Watching Wheelwright’s progress in fall camp is perhaps only behind what takes place behind Corey Clement at RB as the biggest priority on offense in fall camp.
Projected Starters: Alex Erickson, Sr.; George Rushing, So.