No doubt that the 2014 season will be one not soon forgotten in Badger lore. Itâ€™s hard not to always want to remember one of the best single seasonâ€™s from a running back in the history of the game. However, 2015 promises to be very different.
Thatâ€™s because the Badgers have no Melvin Gordon to look forward to seeing run wild on college defenses. Instead, it will be Corey Clementâ€™s turn at the top of the depth chart.
However, he isnâ€™t the only one that will be seeing carries obviously. Thatâ€™s where spring football and fall camp will come in handy, because there is next to nothing in terms of experience behind Clement, with three freshmen, a converted fullback and a converted cornerback all vying for the second and third spots in the backfield.
Needless to say, Badgers spring football will be more interesting at running back than in any of the last five years or so.
Returning Starter(s):Â None
Departing Players:Â Melvin Gordon (left after junior season)
Coming in to Program:Â Jordan Stevenson (4-star, Dallas (Tx.) South Oak Cliff, Bradrick Shaw (3-star, Birmingham (Ala.) Hoover)
Biggest Storyline:Â What do the Badgers have behind Corey Clement
Thereâ€™s no doubt who the starting quarterback is for the Badgers â€” his name is Corey Clement. However, after him there is a grand total of 34 carries on the depth chart and all 34 of those carries belong to converted cornerback Dare Ogunbowale.
Behind them are two redshirt freshmen in Tawain Deal and Caleb Kinlaw. Deal is a big, bruising back with deceptive speed but had a concussion issue that kept him out too long in fall camp last year to allow him to make an impact and then a hand injury that necessitated a redshirt year.
Kinlaw had his own issues thanks to a surgically repaired shoulder and hip injury, but had really impressed in limited practice reps before shutting it down and redshirting himself.
That means both will come in fresh to spring camp and the battle for the spot that was supposed to happen last season will happen this spring instead. It will be interesting to watch and see which one of these impresses most, because the two incoming true freshmen are going to put up a heck of a battle this fall as well.
With a new running back coach coming in just weeks before the start of camp, this group suddenly has gone from an afterthought to a very important group to watch during Badgers spring football camp. At a bare minimum, this is a group to keep at least one eye on in March and April.
Who Starts Against Alabama: Corey Clement
Wisconsin has a very young running back group overall, but the head of the group has plenty of experience and a reputation of his own to hold up. Clement is not Melvin Gordon, and thatâ€™s perfectly fine because he also happens to be really good at what he does.
After all, the guy ran for 949 yards last season and has a career rushing average of 7.3 yards per carry on 214 carries.
Donâ€™t mistake Clementâ€™s more straight-ahead style for a lack of speed or moves either, as he has left many a defender reaching for his jock and has also left many a defender in the dust. Clement will get a big challenge in his first collegiate start, but his 214 career carries say heâ€™s seen plenty of challenges already in his career.
Wisconsin shouldnâ€™t have any issues in the run game if Clement stays healthy, and given the lack of experience behind him thereâ€™s no doubt heâ€™ll be asked to shoulder a bigger load than any running back in recent memory.