Well, since the first game is just four days away, I guess it's time to finish our preseason player rankings.
Once again, last year's rankings are in parentheses:
5. Chris Borland - Sophomore linebacker (8)
The Badgers were lucky enough to have linebacker depth last year when Borland got hurt. Whether or not they have that depth this year remains to be seen, but the options behind Borland are less experienced. While it is certainly not good to see Borland be limited somewhat in training camp, it is a good sign that the coaches moved him to middle linebacker, making him the quarterback of the defense. They wouldn't have done that without believing his shoulders would hold up this year.
4. Nick Toon - Senior wide receiver (5)
Like with Borland, it's not good to see Toon battle some of the same injuries in camp that he had last year. But Bielema said Saturday that the senior wideout is fresh and looks good. That's important because the options behind Toon and Jared Abbrederis are thin. They need Toon to be healthy this year. If he is, he should have a monster year with Russell Wilson at quarterback.
3. James White - Sophomore running back (NR)
White led the Badgers in rushing last year and he did so with zero experience and a couple nagging injuries. The sky is the limit for the underrated running back who didn't even start in high school.
2. Montee Ball - Junior running back (25)
Montee Ball went from unused to Big Ten star in just six games last year. The experience and confidence he gained last season makes him a scary player in 2011. The only question is, can he stay healthy and maintain success over the course of a full season?
1. Russell Wilson - Senior quarterback (NR)
If I had done these rankings at the start of training camp, I would have had White and Ball ahead of Wilson. But, these rankings are done under the criteria of importance, leadership and impact and Wilson embodies all three of those criteria to a tee. His importance has only gotten greater with Jon Budmayr's injury, his leadership speaks for itself with the team voting him a captain and we already know what kind of impact he can have on the football field. If Wilson were to get hurt and miss time, it could cost the Badgers two or three wins.
Which player would the Badgers miss the most?
Russell Wilson (146 votes)
Montee Ball (10 votes)
James White (12 votes)
Nick Toon (5 votes)
Chris Borland (20 votes)
193 total votes