Wisconsin taking 2 QBs in 2018 makes sense, where things stand at safety, and more
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Today is Monday, May 8, and this is what’s for breakfast.
Going with two
Recruiting quarterbacks is hard. The difficulty isn’t just in beating out other teams for kids, but also in evaluating and deciding which ones to pursue. Coaches constantly ask, ‘How will their game translate to college football?’ In Wisconsin’s case, the issue is how they’ll adapt to major Division I college football. In the last 10 years, the Badgers haven’t done a great job in this area, especially on the scholarship side of things.
That lack of success is why Paul Chryst & Co.’s decision to take two quarterbacks in the class of 2018 is notable.
With Ben Bryant (La Grange, Ill.) and Chase Wolf (Cincinnati), the latter of whom committed on Friday, the Badgers will have two scholarship quarterbacks in the same class for just the fourth time since 2002.
— Chase Wolf (@cwolfie25) May 5, 2017
And while this will be the third time in four cycles that Wisconsin is doing this, it is a far different situation than the other two. In fact, this may be the first time when both guys are expected to challenge for a starting role at some point in their careers.
In 2015, when Chryst and his staff came in late in the recruiting cycle, Austin Kafentzis was already committed. He stuck with the Badgers, but Wisconsin also got a pledge from Alex Hornibrook. After just one spring on campus, Kafentzis transferred and Hornibrook was clearly the future at the position.
In the class of 2017, Wisconsin got 3-star recruit Jack Coan (Long Island, N.Y.), who was expected to be the lone scholarship guy. But on National Signing Day, it was announced that planned walk-on Danny Vanden Boom (Kimberly, Wis.) had been given a late scholarship. Still, it seems clear that Coan has the upper hand between the two.
— Jack Sanborn (@JackSanborn79) May 5, 2017
But with Wolf and Bryant, both 3-star recruits, Chryst is taking the approach that the more at-bats you get, the better your chances to hit a home run. This is similar to Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson wanting as many draft picks as possible. But that doesn’t usually happen in college football. In fact, many coaches will promise only to take one player at one position in a single class in an effort to make an offer more attractive.
But based on its history, Wisconsin can’t count on that method. Not when the misses (James Stallons, Joe Brennan, D.J. Gillins and Kafentzis) vastly outweigh the hits (Scott Tolzien), the OKs (Bart Houston), and the we’ll-sees (Hornibrook) since 2006. If not for transfers (Russell Wilson) and walk-ons (Joel Stave), who knows what the last six seasons would have looked like for the Badgers.
By taking two scholarship quarterbacks, Chryst is giving himself a better chance to avoid having to use other avenues to find the leader of his future teams. It’s the smart and prudent move.
Where things stand: Safety
Since spring practice ended in April, we’ve been taking a position-by-position look at where things stand, including at safety.
What happened: Wisconsin moved senior Natrell Jamerson from cornerback to safety, where he ran with the first-team defense all spring in the place of 2016 Team MVP Leo Musso.
Senior D’Cota Dixon didn’t take part in all the practices as a means to rest him, allowing for senior Joe Ferguson, sophomore Patrick Johnson, and redshirt freshmen Eric Burrell and Seth Currens to see quite a bit of action.
Biggest takeaway: There’s a lot of good, young talent at the position.
In Johnson, Burrell and Currens, the Badgers have three solid prospects who can grow and develop together while not being forced to play huge roles at a young age.
The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Currens is a long and rangy player who found himself around the ball a bunch in the spring. Johnson was a big part of Wisconsin’s special teams units last season and got some mop-up time on defense, but wants more. Burrell missed much of his freshman year with a shoulder injury, but looked good in the spring.
The progress of all three, along with Ferguson’s development, was among the reasons the Badgers were comfortable moving junior Arrington Farrar to inside linebacker, according to defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.
Biggest question: Can Jamerson fill Musso’s shoes?
After being a role player for three years, Musso won a starting gig as a senior and didn’t disappoint, leading the team in interceptions and finishing second in tackles. Now the coaching staff is asking Jamerson, who is playing his third position at Wisconsin, to not miss a beat.
Can he do it? Physically, he’ll be just fine. Some have called him pound-for-pound the strongest guy on the team, and he’s got plenty of speed. But he’s also notoriously quiet, and his backfield mate, Dixon, said that’s one area he absolutely has to get better at for them to be a successful pairing this fall.
Vince Biegel was the first player to arrive in Green Bay last Thursday, anxious to get his NFL career underway. It was just rookie orientation camp, but the former Wisconsin outside linebacker was locked in. A fourth-round pick, Biegel was in the facility first and he made sure to sit in the front row of the first team meeting. Those who watched him during his time in Madison wouldn’t be surprised to hear that his intensity has carried over to the professional level.
It was that same intensity and passion that had him back on the practice field Saturday, fewer than 24 hours after leaving midway through Friday’s sessions after injuring his hand. He was wearing a club for protection, but told ESPN it was just a precaution.
“This is just a little cast I had today,” Biegel said, pointing to the contraption in his locker that he wore for Saturday’s workout. “So it wasn’t anything serious.” — Biegel to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky
Again, this was just a rookie minicamp. Biegel had little to gain from suiting up and being out there for a non-padded practice in early May. But this is what makes him different and special. Here’s a guy who played with a cracked bone in his foot last fall before getting it checked out and needing surgery. He missed just two games.
Few people love anything as much as Biegel loves football. Doesn’t matter whether it’s in May or October, he wants to be involved. No one can say with any certainty that the Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., product will have a successful career, but if he doesn’t it won’t be because he didn’t care enough.
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- Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard raised more than $1 million for cancer research in his first Garding Against Cancer event during the weekend.