With the Wisconsin football team less than a week away from opening its season against Northern Iowa at Camp Randall Stadium, the roster is still taking shape.
Head coach Bret Bielema clarified the status of several positions on the depth chart during a press conference Monday at the Camp Randall Media Center.
Defensive back Peniel Jean will be out 4-6 weeks with a fractured foot which required surgery. Jean, a redshirt sophomore, played in all 14 games last season.
Due to the injury, redshirt freshman Darius Hillary will move back to cornerback , just weeks after the coaching staff elected to move him to safety. Hillary will also assume duties at nickelback for the time being, though Bielema noted that Devin Gaulden could also work his way into a starting position.
“Devin Gaulden had a nice little camp,” Bielema said. “I think Darius and Devin are right there neck and neck, taking all the two reps.”
The door also appears to be open for freshman Reggie Mitchell to see some action.
“We're actually going to take Reggie Mitchell and do exactly what we did with Darius a year ago right now,” Bielema said. “We plan on he stays down on the big end, works with our guys. If we travel, he'll travel with us. He's literally like a play away from getting in the game.”
Those are not the only freshmen who can possibly make an impact in 2012, Reggie Love will see time at receiver and Dan Voltz will be on the offensive line on occasion.
Despite being a late addition to the roster, Joe Schobert continues to impress the coaching staff and that may earn him some time on the field.
“Probably the surprise of the group is Joe Schobert, actually playing safety for us right now, but plugging him at linebacker,” Bielema said. “DB coaches want him to stay at DB. Linebacker coach that wants him to move to linebacker. You have a head coach that just wants him to play. He's involved in all special teams and just very, very impressed with how that young man handles everything that's being thrown at him.”
It has been noted that kicker Kyle French appears to be finding his stride, but the competition for kicker is still ongoing.
“I don't know if it will go to warm-ups. It might go to Thursday warm-ups. Just because I think they've got to get a mindset after Thursday going forward. It's been a back and forth deal. Last go-around both of them hit the ball fairly well on Friday night under the lights,” Bielema said. “We listed Frenchy as a starter in both phases because he's been there and he's done it. But I totally expect Jack Russell to get kicks on Saturday as well.”
The starting right guard spot still needs to be ironed out as well. Kyle Costigan and Zac Matthias are both in the mix heading into week one and they may have some added competition in the future. Dallas Lewallen is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee injury.
“You guys remember back to his freshman year, was scout team player of the year. Someone we're very intrigued with. A guy that obviously comes in with high accolades and high thought process,” Bielema said. “He's a guy that can run and bend, because he's been through a lot, you'd think he'd be ready to play.”