Badger Bits: 5-star running back Joe Mixon is visiting Madison

Student Sports

The five-star running back from Oakley, Calif., tweeted out his latest list of official visits for the fall. Wisconsin's one of the four, apparently lending credence to the notion that the Badgers are thickly in the race for Mixon.

When five-star running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif.) included Wisconsin in his list of top 10 schools late last week, the news good enough for Badgers fans. Mixon, as you'd expect, has a ridiculous amount of offers, with Wisconsin going up against the likes of Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

But Sunday night, Mixon tweeted out a list of the official visits he currently has lined up for the fall, giving the Badgers yet another recruiting boost as fall camp gets underway:

Quite a list, and for those not yet fully enticed, consider what followed shortly thereafter: Four-star guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif.) tweeted he'll be accompanying Mixon to Madison. That's incredible news for a coaching staff that continues to utilize its connections out west and forge additional momentum for Wisconsin's 2014 class.

Defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a is the lead recruiter on both Mixon and Mama, reinforcing the hype we've been hearing about his recruiting acumen since coming to Madison.

Badgers football position preview: Special teams improvement sought in kicking game | Wisconsin State Journal

As Tom Mulhern reminds us all here, Wisconsin lost six games by seven points or less. Kyle French and Jack Russell don't necessarily bear the most responsibility for that, though the Badgers' pair of kickers collectively nailed just 10 of 18 field goal attempts (55.6 percent), made just two of seven from at least 40 yards out and also booted three extra points.

So what's going to change for 2013? Sounds like first-year tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk has had a strong influence in making the unit steadier.

Genyk helped French simplify his approach rather than get caught up in the specifics of any particular misses from last season.

"Before, I treated every kick as different and now pretty much every kick is the exact same kick," French said. "I just wrote up a mental process that I repeat no matter what. It just simplifies everything. You don't think about what yard line you're on, what the conditions are like around you, you just don't worry about anything.

"You have that same sentence that you're repeating in your head and so everything is just kind of the exact same kick."

Badgers football: Jeff Lewis adjusting to life on the other side of the ball | Wisconsin State Journal

One of the storylines we've been tracking most eagerly this offseason is the transition of Jeff Lewis to the defensive side of the ball. The former running back is now a defensive back due primarily to that unit's glaringly lacking depth, but also a glut of talent at running back. Apparently he hasn't played "a lick" of defense since his sophomore year of high school, yet he's the likely starter at free safety.

"There are so many things we're doing, if a ball breaks out there needs to be someone that can run that thing down," defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said, in addition to man-to-man coverage of running backs, tight ends and slot receivers.

"He can do all of those things. I know he's bright, I know it means a lot to him. A lot of the intangibles are there, we've just got to put it together."

Badgers men's basketball: Cancer survivor Matt Meinholz inspires in role as manager | Wisconsin State Journal

We're going WSJ-heavy this morning, but this story's well worth sharing. Matt Meinholz is a manager on Wisconsin's men's basketball team, and he's also a cancer survivor that's been inspiring people along every step of his journey to Madison.

Meinholz was tough and courageous. He was smart and energetic. He was overwhelmingly positive and passionate about sports, especially basketball.

"That's the kind of person," Ryan told Meinholz's parents, Marv and Karen, at one point, "that I want near me and I want part of this team."

So Ryan did everything in his power to make it happen. And Meinholz, who was eager to be associated with a program he had grown up admiring, did his part, too.

Manziel Mania: You'll come across way too many hot Johnny Football takes today, so we'll just wrap this morning up with the link to the one you'll need: Good Bull Hunting deconstructs the ESPN Outside the Lines report that broke this story open.

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