MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 29: Alex Erickson #86 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the football during the first half of play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers Spring Football 2015 Preview: Wide Receiver

Where or where have the wide receivers gone? First it was down to a one-man show with Jared Abbrederis and then it was really nothing much with maybe a glimmer of hope from Alex Erickson. However, the once deep and impactful crew of wide receivers has left Camp Randall.

Previous Previews: Quarterback | Offensive Line | Running Back | Secondary

Or so it has seemed for the better part of two seasons now. Luckily the Badgers have gotten younger and hopefully more impactful because of the experience gained from a group of some promising, but unproductive youngsters last season.

Still, the Badgers don’t have much in the way of a deep threat coming out of last season and Alex Erickson can’t do it all again on his own. As the Wisconsin Badgers head in to spring football there are plenty of opportunities for players with promise to actually become productive parts of the offense.

Will any of them take advantage of the opportunity? Let’s explore the position and see who could be in for a big spring.

Returning Starter(s): Alex Erickson and Reggie Love

Departing Players: Kenzel Doe

Coming in to Program: Andrew James (3-star/ Ft. Luaderdale (Fla.) Westminster Academy)

Biggest Storyline: Will someone finally break out to be a deep threat?

Alex Erickson and his team-best 55 receptions are back, and that’s good and wonderful. However, the Badgers targeted him more than all the other receivers combined last season…and that leads us to the belief that he needs some major help to become even more dangerous on the outside.

The names of Reggie Love and Rob Wheelwright have been talked about for the better part of the last two years, but the duo has suffered through injury after injury and when given the chance this past season weren’t very productive. Love and Wheelwright combined for three receptions and 32 yards last season — not exactly eye-popping numbers.

However, George Rushing appeared to have more confidence and got more looks as the season went along. With a new coaching staff in place he could be the one to watch this offseason. Additionally there appears to be plenty of raw talent in Krenwick Sanders and this offseason could be critical to the now sophomore duo to make the leap from promising to solid contributor.

If either can emerge as a threat opposite Erickson, the Badgers offense has a chance to be really dynamic in a way it wasn’t last season. Being able to keep a defense off balance will be key in 2015, and that means finding that secondary threat on the outside.

Who Starts Against Alabama: Alex Erickson, Jordan Fredrick, George Rushing

While Jordan Fredrick isn’t going to kill a team with speed or massive deep runs, he is perhaps the most solid all-around receiver in this group. His blocking ability is easily the best and that was on full display during a number of wheel routes and wide receiver screens last season. Look for that ability to get him in the starting lineup.

Still, it’s hard to see how an offseason in a new playbook and with a coach who isn’t going to abandon the throwing game won’t benefit Rushing more than anyone else. Don’t be surprised to see his name talked about in a positive way a lot this spring and for it to lead to a starting role against the Crimson Tide on opening weekend.

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, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com

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