Fall camp is often not about the the starters, it's more about finding those players that can make contributions in smaller ways that make a team deep and flexible. On Saturday Head Coach Bret Bielema made it clear that there are a few freshmen making impressions and ready to make real contributions to the 2012 Wisconsin Badgers football team.
Vonte Jackson and Dan Voltz were mentioned as true freshmen that stand out on the offensive side of the ball, but with the depth at running back Jackson will have to find a way to contribute in small ways if at all in his freshman season.
Voltz has made marked improvement, he's up to over 300 pounds early on in camp - making him fit in more like a true Wisconsin offensive lineman. It's not the only thing that's improved though.
"Definitely the Center-QB exchange is 100% better than it was in the spring," Head Coach Bret Bielema stated.
Now, no one is saying that they will become instant starters or stars, but they can at least become contributors on units that struggled one season ago - special teams and special packages on offense and defense.
On the defensive side of the ball it's Vince Biegel and Reggie Mitchell standing out.
Bielema is really impressed by the combination of athleticism and length with Biegel, stating, "He's probably as athletic
That combination has made him a candidate to get playing time in pass rushing situations and it's clear he's got something because the offense apparently isn't a fan of his early in camp.
"I know he's under the offensive guys' skin," Bielema said of Biegel. "He goes 100mph every play, whether it's the first play or a repeat play."
Bielema also said that he's in the mix as a pass rusher on 3rd downs and that no matter what they'll get the best pass rushers on the field.
Reggie Love, a wide receiver has also been making an impression with Bielema stating "is a guy that you can see has ability, but now that more plays are coming in is regressing a bit."
Joe Schobert, a late walk-on addition to Wisconsin is also making some noise and could be a special teams dynamo for the Badgers. Schobert came to Wisconsin from Waukesha West and was immediately plugged in to the wide receiver role, but he hasn't stayed there for long.
"It's easy to see he's a playmaker. So we switched him to defensive back on Day 3," said Bielema. "It was a head coaching decision."
The 6'2" 210 pound walk-on is showing to be an instinctive player for the Badgers, answering a question by linebackers coach Andy Buh on the drop of the hat in last nights special teams meeting.
It's those type of things that will get freshman noticed and while the 2012 Badgers may not see many freshman make impacts on a down to down basis, it's the little things that could help them become great players in the future.
The biggest question entering camp is at quarterback and according to Bielema it's a three way race between transfer Danny O'Brien, oft-injured Curt Phillips, and redshirt freshman walk-on Joel Stave. That has moved Joe Brennan, who lost the No. 1 spot to Stave in the spring, down to the 4th spot on the depth chart.
It has led to speculation that Brennan could be on his way out at Wisconsin, being a redshirt Sophomore and seemingly burried on the depth chart. Bielema addressed where Brennan sits within the program on Saturday.
"Joey and I had a conversation last night," said Bielema. "We'll have a big personel meeting on Sunday and if guys aren't where they want to be they'll have some decisions to make."
Tomorrow is media day, so look for much more coverage from us. To get the most up to date information make sure you follow us on Twitter @MTBadgers and on Facebook (you can see our pictures from practice today there)