With spring camp wrapped up and summer around the corner, here’s where the Wisconsin depth chart stands heading into the 2017 season.
- Alex Hornibrook
- Jack Coan
- Kare Lyles
Hornibrook has been the clear starter since Bart Houston graduated, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. The real competition this spring has been between Coan and Lyles, with Coan ranked higher for now because of his performance in the spring game. The freshman early enrollee was 10-for-17 with 121 yards passing and the game’s only touchdown.
- Chris James
- Bradrick Shaw
- Taiwan Deal
There really is little-to-no distance between No. 1 and 2 here, as both James and Shaw figure to split carries in 2017. James gets the edge because he seems more multi-dimensional in the passing game as both a blocker and receiver while still being a capable runner. Deal missed spring camp due to offseason ankle surgery, but should resume his role as Wisconsin’s short-yardage wrecking ball if healthy.
- Austin Ramesh
- Alec Ingold
Nothing much to report here, as neither Ramesh nor Ingold were seen in the spring game. Both should see plenty of snaps this fall.
- Jazz Peavy
- Quintez Cephus
- A.J. Taylor
Peavy is the only known quantity at receiver heading into 2017, while Cephus’ ascension has been one of the stories of the spring. The 6-foot-1, 201-pound sophomore had to miss a good chunk of the spring after a death in the family, but he should have no problem taking the No. 2 receiver role when fall camp rolls around.
- Troy Fumagalli
- Kyle Penniston
- Zander Neuville
Fumagalli figures to compete for All-Big Ten honors in his senior season after a breakout performance in the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan. Penniston and Neuville are both capable enough to see time this season, with Penniston more as a receiver and Neuville as a blocker.
- David Edwards, Jon Dietzen, Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel, Jacob Maxwell
- Cole Van Lanen, Micah Kapoi, Tyler Biadasz, Kayden Lyles, Patrick Kasl
Despite four returning starters, this group sure does have a lot of question marks. Star left tackle Ryan Ramzcyk has moved on to a likely first-round selection in the NFL draft and is expected to be replaced by Edwards, though Deiter saw snaps there during the spring when Edwards went down with an ankle injury. Biadasz, Lyles and Kasl are talented freshmen who could contribute right away, or at least give the returning starters a scare during fall camp.
- Olive Sagapolu
- Billy Hirschfeld
- Jeremy Patterson
Sagapolu is the clear starter in the middle of the line for Wisconsin and should get some All-Big Ten consideration. Hirschfield figures to see regular snaps rotating in for Sagapolu, but Patterson might need to lose some weight from his current listed total of 352 pounds before he’s ready to see the field.
- Chikwe Obasih, Conor Sheehy
- Alec James, Garrett Rand
Obasih has been one of Wisconsin’s stalwarts at defensive end since he enrolled, while Sheehy can move between end and tackle. Behind them will be experienced senior James and sophomore Rand, who moved to the edge after beginning his career at defensive tackle. Sophomore Isaiahh Loudermilk should also see plenty of time after starring with Rand in the spring game.
- Garret Dooley, Leon Jacobs
- Andrew Van Ginkel, Zack Baun
Losing Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt would hurt any team, but this group has capably replaced talent again and again under Tim Tibesar. Dooley is simply the next man up and is talented enough to be a Big Ten starter. Jacobs is a more interesting case, as his career in Wisconsin started at outside linebacker before he was moved to inside linebacker, fullback, inside linebacker, then outside linebacker. Van Ginkel is a transfer from South Dakota and could be a potential star.
- T.J. Edwards, Jack Cichy
- Chris Orr, Ryan Connelly
This is easily the deepest position on the roster, as all four players listed above have shown they can hold down the middle of the Badgers defense. The only question is who will stay healthy, as all of them save Connelly missed games last year. Edwards missed most of fall camp and the season opener with a foot injury, while Orr went down with an ACL tear on the first defensive snap of the season. Cichy was knocked out in late October with a torn pectoral. Even with those health concerns, this group should make Bob Bostad’s first year as inside linebackers coach an easy one.
- Derrick Tindal, Nick Nelson
- Dontye Carriere-Williams, Lubern Figaro
Nelson transferred from Hawaii and was slotted in as a starter, replacing the graduated Sojourn Shelton. It’s still not clear whether Carriere-Williams or Figaro will get more reps at nickel corner.
- D’Cota Dixon, Natrell Jamerson
- Joe Ferguson, Patrick Johnson
Leo Musso will be missed at free safety, but Wisconsin gets D’Cota Dixon back after a breakout 2016 season and will pair him with Natrell Jamerson, who moved over from cornerback to take over the starting free safety spot.