at Camp Randall Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Badgers 2016 Spring Football Preview: Safety

As our last preview noted, change is happening in a big way for the Wisconsin Badgers defense in 2016. Having a new coordinator will do that, but the biggest part of the change happening for the Badgers comes in the form of the secondary.

Previous Previews: Running Back | Linebacker |

Specifically, change is happening most at the safety position where both starters will be replaced after graduation and looks at the NFL. With both Michael Caputo and Tanner McEvoy gone, the safety position and the ability to be multiple in coverage is going to change.

How so? That’s what spring football is going to tell us.


The Basics

Returning Starter(s): None

Departing Players: Michael Caputo (65 tackles, 1.0 tfl, 0.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 8 pass break ups, 2 forced fumbles); Tanner McEvoy (42 tackles, 2.0 tfls, 1.0 sacks, 6 INTs, 6 pass break ups)

Coming in to Program: Eric Burrell, Patrick Johnson III, Seth Currens


The Nitty-Gritty

Biggest Storyline: Who Starts?

Wisconsin’s safety position is perhaps the most unique group to look at in the spring football season. Replacing two starters makes that an almost certainty, but so does the fact that there are players with plenty of experience, but plenty of questions behind them. Both Leo Musso and Lubern Figaro have started at times in their careers, but both have slid down the depth chart in the past year or two. Can either of them get back the form that made them first options?

However, there is a lot of talent with a lot less experience in place at safety that has supplanted both of them as of late. One name that intrigues the most is Arrington Farrar, who was so impressive that the Badgers burned his redshirt and allowed him to get experience on special teams and in a few situations in the backfield as well.

Another name to watch as a favorite to start is junior D’Cota Dixon, who was one of the reasons Musso and Figaro fell down the depth chart this past season. He finished last year with 16 tackles, 1 pass break up and 2 quarterback hurries. Don’t overlook Barry Alvarez’s grandson Joe Ferguson either, who saw action in 12 games and recorded 10 tackles as a backup and special teams performer.

Four players, two starting spots and plenty of battling ahead — this could be the most fun position to watch this spring. Now add in a former All-American and NFL player as your position coach…yes, don’t forget that Wisconsin added former star Jim Leonhard to the coaching staff as the secondary coach.

Who Starts Against LSU: Arrington Farrar FS; D’Cota Dixon SS

These two were being groomed as the eventual starters just last season and there’s little reason to believe they will be upended in spring camp. While Ferguson provides some really good athletic ability, I just don’t see him unseating Dixon. Meanwhile, Farrar is a transformational type player and could be in line to become an all-Big Ten performer based on what the coaching staff saw in him last season. Even with a switch in coaching staff, expect their talents to shine through. Now the question becomes what happens when Burrell, a 4-star recruit, comes in for fall camp.

Projected Depth Chart:

FS: Arrington Farrar, Leo Musso
SS: D’Cota Dixon, Joe Ferguson

Wisconsin is in one heck of a good position in the back of its defense. It has potential, highly-rated recruits and a lot of veteran experience as well. It’s a good enough mix that should anything happen the depth won’t be hurt too badly. Even with two new starters happening, this group shouldn’t be one that the coaching staff has to worry about come fall camp.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site