Freshman CB could play vital role in 2017, Joe Schobert in Camp Randall 100 and more
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Today is Wednesday, June 14, and this is what’s for breakfast.
Most Important Badgers for 2017
During the next several weeks will be unveiling our list of the Most Important Badgers for 2017. This is not a list of the 25 best players on the team. Instead, it’s the 25 players and coaches most vital to the Badgers’ success this fall. The goal is to rank the players based on which of them hold the key for Wisconsin to earn its third Big Ten West title in four seasons. Factors that came into play were past success, what was said about them by their coaches this offseason and what type of season could be expected from them.
No. 23 — cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams
Who: A 3-star recruit, Carriere-Williams redshirted as a true freshman in 2016 and spent time on Wisconsin’s scout team defense, giving the Badgers starters all kinds of trouble. A physical presence at 5-foot-10 and 194 pounds, the Miami product caught the coaches’ attention and almost saw playing time, even traveling with the team to Northwestern.
“About halfway through the year last year he was ready,” defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said this spring. “We were able to hold his redshirt and not have to play him, but he would have been ready to help us out a year ago.”
Carriere-Williams made a bunch of plays in the spring and will enter his second fall camp as the favorite to win the No. 3 CB job behind starters Derrick Tindal and Nick Nelson.
Will be a RS frosh in '17. Sojourn Shelton told scribes kid will be a player. https://t.co/gm1rmnjv8O
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) May 25, 2017
Why here: Wisconsin’s base defense is the 3-4, but with as many spread teams as the Badgers face, their sub packages see a ton of action. That’s where the nickel corner comes in. A year ago, Natrell Jamerson and Lubern Figaro each saw action in that role, but the staff is looking for more out of the position in 2017 and believes Carriere-Williams might give them that.
“He knows who he is,” Leonhard said. “[He] plays with great technique and is consistent. That’s showed up [on film].”
The competition among Carriere-Williams, Figaro and perhaps a few others will be one of the camp battles to watch, but it’s apparent from the way the staff and teammates talked about him this spring that the redshirt freshman is viewed as a future star.
Joe Schobert stands out
Former Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert was the latest name unveiled as part of the Camp Randall 100 — a list of the 100 people who most helped shape the first 100 years of the stadium the Badgers call home. The walk-on had earned a place in its history even before his college days, running for a Division 1 record 296 yards in Waukesha West’s 2010 state title victory. But it was his effort against Iowa a little less than five years later that stands out as his best day at Camp Randall. As detailed by Mike Lucas at UWBadgers.com, Schobert was an absolute menace all game long in what turned into a 10-6 loss for Wisconsin.
“I don’t know if I felt unblockable,” he conceded. “But, for me, personally, especially in the second half, I felt like I was in a zone. I definitely felt good and I always felt I had a chance to get off the tight ends and do what I wanted. I didn’t think they could block us at all. It was a confidence thing.”
Schobert was his normal, understated self afterward, not really wanting to talk about the afternoon he had because his team lost. But his stats — 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 5 hurries of Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard — made that impossible. And looking back at it now, it stands out as one of the better defensive efforts by a Wisconsin player in the last 30-plus years.
It’s impossible to ignore the school-record 6 sacks Tim Jordan had against Northwestern in 1985, the 5-sack game by Tom Burke in a win against Iowa in 1998 or the 6.5 tackles for loss (including 5 sacks) that Alex Lewis managed to produce in 2003 against Purdue. You also can’t forget about Jamar Fletcher intercepting 2 passes and largely shutting down Michigan State All-American Plaxico Burress in a 1999 victory, or a year later when he intercepted future first-round pick Joey Harrington of Oregon 3 times in a back-and-forth affair that Wisconsin won 27-23.
But Schobert’s afternoon against the Hawkeyes had fans and media in amazement, just as those others did. His spot in the Camp Randall 100 is more than well-deserved.
Biggest question heading into 2017?
ESPN continued its offseason look at the Big Ten West on Tuesday, unveiling the biggest question facing each team in 2017. The one singled out for the Badgers won’t come as a shock, as it’s something that’s been talked about since February — what will the defense look like with Leonhard now the coordinator and a bunch of new faces in the lineup?
“The Badgers are projected to still have an excellent defense, but bringing in a young coach to take over the defense will naturally raise questions on how that will translate. Add in the fact that the Badgers’ staff is also replacing big names on defense, and it becomes one of the bigger questions.”
In fairness, we really don’t know exactly how Leonhard will perform in his first coordinating gig. But his history — a three-time All-American after walking on at Wisconsin and a 10-year NFL veteran who got his start as an undrafted free agent — suggests you shouldn’t doubt his ability to rise to every challenge he’s presented with. There might be some bumps early, but the list of things he hasn’t excelled at when it comes to sports is very, very small.
As for the new faces being asked to replace outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel, corner Sojourn Shelton, and safety Leo Musso … they actually aren’t that new. Two seniors in Leon Jacobs and Garrett Dooley are slated to start at OLB, a two-year starter at Hawaii — Nelson — is expected to fill Shelton’s role and another senior — Jamerson — has been called on for Musso’s spot. Certainly newer faces and names than those being replaced, but far from what we normally refer to as new.
Special ball for special stadium
With Wisconsin celebrating Camp Randall’s 100th year, the company that makes the team’s footballs — Wilson — is getting in on the action.
— Wilson Football (@Wilson_Football) June 13, 2017
Each member of the Camp Randall 100 will get the ball … and it will also be used in games, as well.