Russell Wilson grew between the 2012 NFL Combine and Wisconsin's Pro Day on Wednesday, gaining 3/8" to top off at 5'11 flat. Once again, he proved in front of pro scouts that his height is the only limiting factor to his potential, completing 59-of-63 pass attempts while showcasing every single type of throw he will be expected to make at the next level. Former Heisman winner Chris Weinke ran the workout, and came away impressed by not only Wilson's accuracy and accuracy on the run, but his arm strength as well. As the NFL Draft approaches, Wilson's stock could not be much higher given his unalterable height.
His stature grew even more in a metaphorical sense. While Wilson drew 'oohs' and 'aahs' with his workout, Bret Bielema announced that Jon Budmayr had suffered another setback with the nerve in his right elbow, and is expected to miss all of spring practice. He also announced that prized California recruit Bart Houston will undergo shoulder surgery that will likely hinder his participation in fall camp. With Curt Phillips still coming off of ACL surgery, Joe Brennan and Joel Stave could be the only two fully healthy quarterbacks on the roster heading into the season.
Wilson was going to be difficult to replace regardless, but the rash of injuries to Wisconsin's three most highly-touted quarterbacks feels like an act of spite on the part of someone or something. Unfortunately, Bielema's bad news forces us to face the ugly truth a little sooner than we would have liked: Wisconsin could struggle, and struggle mightily next season with a stable of untested, gimpy quarterbacks.
At the very least, the chances that we see multiple starters next season have skyrocketed. Budmayr, Phillips and Houston can only hope to showcase their full talents in fall camp. If not, auditioning could extend into the regular season with a platoon system in place. Unless of course Brennan or Stave take hold of the job, though limited evidence suggests that neither is quite ready for the big time.
Yes, there is some guy named Danny O'Brien out there. Say what you will about his past season at Maryland, Wisconsin simply needs someone functional at quarterback to win a Leaders division riddled with problems. O'Brien at the very least provides functionality, and that alone is reason enough for the Badgers to pursue him with full Wilsonian force. The thing is, up to now he hasn't given any indication that he is coming to Madison.
Wisconsin will likely go into the season with what it currently has stocked, the hope being that things will somehow be better in five months time. For now, there isn't much to do except curse the fates who hate our quarterbacks.
More results from Pro Day: Nick Toon got a whole lot faster, improving his 4.53 40 time to a 4.43 on the McClain Center turf. Louis Nzegwu blew up, with a 4.57 40-yard dash and a 41.5" vertical at 257 pounds. Antonio Fenelus and Aaron Henry ran 4.51 and 4.53, respectively.
Peter Konz still has a gimpy ankle, so he didn't do any work outside of snapping for passing drills. He did give a nice high-road response to Michigan center David Molk, who told AnnArbor.com that he was faster, stronger and smarter than Konz.
"I was surprised. I just didn't expect another Big Ten guy to say something like that," Konz said. "But that's ok, Taylor Swift said ‘People throw rocks at things that shine.'"
Photo gallery of the event, via the Wisconsin State Journal.
Onto basketball, where Jim Polzin handicaps the field at the 2012 Big Ten Tournament with the help of Northwestern coach Bill Carmody.
Bo Ryan also speaks his mind on this year's field.
Pre conference tourney bracketology breakdown via Dave Heller. In sum: Wisconsin will be a 4-seed barring something terrible Friday. SB Nation puts the Badgers in the South bracket, along with Kentucky and 3-seed Indiana.
Bill Connelly gives a great breakdown of the field, and tabs Wisconsin as his darkhorse favorite. Jordan Taylor also lands on his "Players to Watch" list.