Badger Bits: Southward poised to start at strong safety

Wisconsin redshirt sophomore Dezmen Southward has only played three years of organized football. After one year of high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida and two years in the Wisconsin program, he's now in a position to start at strong safety next season for the Badgers. The football coaches at STA, the same high school that Badgers James White and Conor O'Neill attended, tried their hardest to get Southward on the football field earlier in his high school career. So why did he initially resist? Southward explains in a Tom Mulhern story:

"I thought I was the man, always, thought I was a tough guy," Southward said. "So, I didn't want to admit anything like that. I can definitely say, I was frightened to get in pads. Now, I'm right at home."

Southward has had such a successful spring that he has overtaken fellow safety Shelton Johnson on the top of the strong safety depth chart. Interestingly enough, Johnson and Southward worked together to make the touchdown-saving tackle on the nearly disastrous Arizona State kickoff return right before halftime last season. But Southward wants his career to be known for more than just one tackle, and he's putting himself into a position to make a large impact on defense next season.

Bo Ryan says that he was very pleased with his team's 2010-11 season, noting that there was really only one game the entire season that the Badgers didn't have a chance at winning near the end of the final half. He called his team very consistent and said they had a phenomenal year.

Former Wisconsin basketball commit and current Marquette guard Vander Blue faces a charge of assault and battery from last October on Marquette's campus.

ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg has a story on and video interview with Jon Budmayr, the heir-apparent to the Wisconsin quarterback position. Rittenberg notes that Budmayr has not faced much competition this spring but has refused to become complacent. Coach Bielema says that Jon reminds him of Tyler Donovan.

Michael Bleach at the Badger Herald finds some flaws in Bielema's plan to play ones versus ones in this Saturday's Spring Game at Camp Randall.

NFL-bound running back John Clay has lost a lot of weight since January, but can he keep it off? And can he shed the image of being an injury-prone player? Some NFL scouts still have their doubts, but he is expected to be drafted in the 5th to 7th round range in the NFL Draft. P.J. Hill was able to snag a spot on a NFL roster, so I expect Clay will be able to do the same.

Here's a great story on Wisconsin boxing by Mark Bennett at the Daily Cardinal. The Badgers had one of the best collegiate boxing programs way back in the day, and it was the talk of the town in Madison. Unfortunately, it all came to a tragic end in the year of 1960.

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