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There are plenty of high expectations for Wisconsin football in 2017.

Wisconsin C Michael Deiter makes award watch list, Badgers with another high preseason ranking, rating the Big Ten RBs and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

Today is Tuesday, May 23, and this is what’s for breakfast.

Everyone welcome

If you’re a college football player and took at least one snap at center in 2016, you’re likely on the Rimington Trophy 2017 preseason watch list. OK, we’re joking — kind of. That’s because 63 names appear on the preseason list for the award that goes to the best center in the country. In other words, nearly half of all schools in the FBS are represented on the list, including Wisconsin with junior Michael Deiter.

Junior Michael Deiter is among the better centers in the country. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The purpose of all these preseason lists is to drum up attention for the awards, so the more names the better in many folks’ minds. But what are the chances that Georgia State’s Gabe Mobley or San Jose State’s Keoni Taylor are actually going to win the award come December? Slim to none.

All that said, among the names on the list, Deiter is more than deserving and should be in the mix for the award. Overshadowed a season ago by fellow Big Ten centers in Ohio State’s Pat Elflein, Michigan’s Mason Cole and Iowa’s Sean Walsh, Deiter is among the most experienced players at his position and many consider him among the best in the nation. That includes ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who ranked the Ohio native as the No. 2 center in the junior class in his first position-by-position look at the 2018 NFL Draft.

The only thing that could hold him back, at least for this award, is whether he’ll actually play center come September. Due to injuries, Deiter was playing left tackle at the end of the spring, and the coaching staff made it clear he could end up there when the season starts if it gives them their five best linemen on the field.

The slightly comical aspect of that scenario would have redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz taking Deiter’s spot at center, and then likely ending up on the Rimington Trophy watch list next May no matter how much or how well he plays.

Wisconsin in the polls

Like most Badgers fans, the folks that put together preseason Top 25 polls are very bullish on Wisconsin in 2017. The latest example is Athlon, which released its poll on Monday and had coach Paul Chryst’s team at No. 12.

Athlon, like many, mention Wisconsin’s largely lackluster schedule and the return of 15 starters for placing the Badgers among the big boys of the college football world. If The Associated Press Top 25 plays out the same way, the No. 12 ranking would be the Badgers’ highest preseason poll position since opening 2012 in that spot.

But perhaps more intriguing than the ranking is the storyline developing among a lot of predictions with respect to QB Alex Hornibrook. ESPN named him among the five most indispensable players in the Big Ten, and the belief among many of those who cover the team is his development could be the difference between a very good year and a special one.

Ranking the running backs

As we hit the less-newsy portion of the offseason, Land of 10 is getting you ready for the fall with our summer study guide series. The latest offering? The best running backs in the Big Ten.

As you’d expect, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is at the top of the list, but coming in at No. 6 is Wisconsin’s Bradrick Shaw.

“Corey Clement was a high-profile recruit, but Shaw could be the next overlooked prospect who becomes a star in the Badgers’ backfield. He’s likely to have a better support system around him than [Michigan State’s LJ] Scott, but he also might have more competition for carries.”

Wisconsin junior Chris James (pictured) could combine with sophomore Bradrick Shaw to give the Badgers an explosive duo in the backfield. (Wisconsin Athletics)

Despite being the Badgers’ No. 3 tailback a season ago, Shaw’s inclusion on this list is not all that surprising. In limited action he flashed big-play potential with 457 yards and 5 touchdowns. His one-cut-and-go style was a bit of a change of pace and had fans calling for him to get more work than he did. It didn’t happen, in part, because his knowledge of the playbook and ability to play all three downs was still in doubt.

But even if he becomes consistent and trustworthy in all situations, it’s possible he still may not be the featured back in 2017. Not with Pitt transfer Chris James now eligible and ready to embarrass defenders on other teams the way he did his own guys in spring practice. From a skill position point of view, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who had a better spring than James.

Both will play and play a lot, according to running backs coach John Settle. And while neither may end up being the best runner in the conference, the Badgers would be just fine with them combining to challenge for the title of best duo in the Big Ten.

What really matters

Last week, former Wisconsin basketball star Nigel Hayes tweeted out an email he got from a supposed Badgers’ fan that congratulated him on his graduation only to follow that with criticism of his hairstyle that she considered unprofessional. This fan said it was something that would be a turn-off for potential NBA teams and hurt his draft stock.

It was a ridiculous assertion, pathetic on all levels. A haircut impacting whether a general manager wants Hayes on his team or in his community? Come on.

Instead of his hair, the focus, at least off the court, on Hayes needs to be about stories such as this from Sean Keeler here at Land of 10. It’s a story that started when ESPN’s College GameDay came to town last October and continues today, with Hayes developing and maintaining a relationship with a family mourning the loss of a father that has come to call him a friend.

With Hayes unfortunately overshadowed by his political beliefs, his sometimes-shaky jump shot and apparently his hair, this story tells you more about the former Badgers star than almost anything else could. And it’s evidence that he’d be an asset to the community of any team willing to have him.

Catching up

  • Future Wisconsin basketball G Kobe King apparently can’t wait to get to Madison.
  • Bronson Koenig may be chasing his NBA dream, but he’s also taking the time to do his first basketball camp this summer.