This time next week the Badgers will be just hours away from the 1st practice of fall camp under Gary Andersen and actual on the field football will begin to matter most once again. Until then though may we humbly suggest that you come along with us on our 2nd annual "Camping with the Badgers" journey.
Yesterday we began our previews by looking at a position group with a ton of talent and plenty of options that have actually produced - Linebackers. Today it's the exact opposite... Well, at least in terms of having plenty of options that have actually produced, as we talk all things Wide Receivers in 2013.
So, let us explore what this group may look like come Aug. 31st against UMass.
Hard to say there's a lot of good news for a group that showed as badly as it did last season, but on the positive side of things Wisconsin will lose exactly ZERO players that caught a pass last season.
Yes, that's right, every player who caught a pass in 2012 returns. That's a rarity and it could also lead to some of the young players from 2012 getting it and increasing their roles in 2013.
For all the receptions returning, ALL of the wide receivers not named Jared Abbrederis couldn't equal or surpass the total of catches by Abbrederis himself. That's not good news to say the least and it can't continue that way in 2013 or this team will stare another 7-5 record square in the face. It's really that simple.
Questions Entering Camp:
Can Anyone build off of 2012 and be a major option this season? If there is a player that could it has to be Jordan Fredrick, who ended up 2nd amongst the WR's in receptions with all of 17. He wasn't consistent in his first season seeing major playing time, however that experience could lead to more production (maybe by default), but if he can get from 17 to 30 catches as a 2nd WR option the Badgers would be a great shape.
What Role will Rob Wheelwright Play? One of the biggest hopes amongst some in Badger nation is that incoming freshman Rob Wheelwright can step in and become a major force at WR right off the bat. Looking at Wheelwright's body of work, the fact that he fits the mold of what a successful wide receiver at Wisconsin looks like, and what little production has come from the group currently ahead of him one could easily expect him to play a big role. However, let's see him earn it in camp before crowning a freshman as the 2nd coming at wide receiver. There are plenty of young options across the board at this position and he is one of those options that will get a long look.
Players to Watch:
Reggie Love - One of the young guys in the group Love possesses a good combination of height and size (6-3, 209lbs.). He did see some time last season in his freshman year, catching 1 pass for 19 yards and played a bit on special teams as well. His name hasn't been talked about a ton as the bulk of the attention has gone to Jordan Fredrick and A.J. Jordan, but don't count Love out of the race just yet. At a minimum he is likely to be a major player in the rotation of wide receivers this year with a solid camp.
Rob Wheelwright - There hasn't been a more explosive wide receiver coming into the Badgers as a freshman since Nick Toon. Wheelwright could provide a major upgrade in the speed and ability to stretch opposing defenses opposite of Abbrederis. He is the most intriguing wide receiver on the roster for us and how he adapts to the college game in camp will go a long way to telling us if he'll be a major contributor from the get go.
Kenzel Doe - One thing was clear in spring, Ludwig wants to find a way to get the ball in Doe's hands more often than not. How that happens moving forward will be interesting to say the least. It's clear he is one of the fastest players in the program and while he isn't the tallest guy in the world his shiftiness and ability in space is unquestioned (just watch the Utah State punt return last year if you don't believe me). He could be a major weapon and if he's consistent with his catches in camp he'll see a lot of playing time in 2013.
Projected Depth Chart:
|Position||1st team||2nd team|
|WR||Jared Abbrederis||Reggie Love/Rob Wheelwright|
|WR||Jordan Fredrick/AJ Jordan||Jordan/Kenzel Doe|
One thing is clear, youth is still being served at this position group with 9 of the 16 players on the roster being freshman or sophomores. At the end of the day I think you see some of that youth become important playmakers for Wisconsin and don't be surprised to see Reggie Love, Rob Wheelwright, A.J. Jordan, Jordan Fredrick, and Kenzel Doe all seeing major playing time. At the end of the day though I think we'll see one of that group step up and become that solid No. 2 we've all been talking about - problem is predicting just who that will be is a total crapshoot at this point. If you want to nail me down (and isn't that what I'm here for - making predictions for you?) than I think it will be Jordan Fredrick - he was a bit more consistent in the spring than he was during the 2012 season and ultimately he's going to put it all together or fall off the face of the earth (ala Jeff Duckworth) as camp goes on.