Wisconsin spring football: 5 questions about the Badgers' receivers

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Xs, Ys, Zs, breakouts -- which receivers are merely freshmen, and which are the breakout candidates?

When you look at Wisconsin's passing game, you see some big holes that need to be answered. The fact that Jared Abbrederis' last two seasons in a Badger uniform came along despite him having not much help in terms of quarterbacks to throw the ball to him and it took until last season until he had a second downfield threat.

But now he's gone. Jacob Pedersen is, too. In fact, Jordan Frederick's the returning leader in receptions... with 10. He's also UW's current active leader in receptions... with 27.

When you consider just how dinged up Wisconsin's receivers have been this spring, some of the answers seem obvious. Some not so much.

1. Which position is going to lead the team in receptions?

Tight end: -120
Wide receiver: +150
Running back: +1500

It seems somewhat obvious that the Badgers' experience in catching the ball is going to be with the "Ys." Sam Arneson and Derek Watt both have had success in the passing game. As of now, wide receiver's a mess, and it's a mess without Abbrederis. I mean, there is bound to be an infusion when the freshmen five roll up for the summer. But as for what the Badgers currently have at wide receiver, you're looking at Kenzel Doe as your No. 1 receiver.

Doe might be a breakout candidate, but it's a long way from April to LSU.

2. Which true freshman will see the most playing time?

Krenwick Sanders: 2 to 1
George Rushing: 5 to 1
Dareian Watkins: 11 to 2
Chris Jones: 12 to 1
Natrell Jamerson: 18 to 1

The hype is going to be on Sanders when the summer comes. He blew up into a massive prospect during the final half of his senior season, and there will be expectations from day one. Rushing might be able to sneak in and get the trust of whomever wins the quarterback job because he's so polished. Watkins might not be polished as a receiver, but his athleticism is going to put him in a position to work special teams at the very least. Jones could actually come out and make some big plays, but my gut feeling is he gets like nine catches, 254 yards and four touchdowns if he doesn't redshirt. Jamerson's raw, but the speed is there. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a playmaker.

3. Over/under on the number of receptions that leads the team?

Over: 45.5 -150
Under: 45.5 +200

There are a lot of receptions missing from last year's iteration, and we don't have any answers as to who's going to step in as the No. 1 target. But 46 receptions is a number a Badgers receiver has hit in five of the last seven seasons. The seasons in which that didn't happen were the dystopian nightmares of 2008 and 2010, when a fully healthy Nick Toon would've made it happen (36 catches in nine games).

4. Who will lead the team in receptions?

Derek Watt: 8 to 1
Sam Arneson: 9 to 1
Krenwick Sanders: 11 to 1
Kenzel Doe: 12 to 1
George Rushing: 18 to 1
Jordan Frederick: 20 to 1

Watt might surprise you. You could count on one hand how many catches he had last year (three), but one of the things we know about Gary Andersen is that he likes the safety-valve option. Watt showed he had soft hands and the ability to run with power as a fullback in 2012. The winner of the James White workload seems like he could be the one to take the lead in receptions.

5. Over/under on the number of receptions for Reggie Love?

Over: 20.5 -125
Under: 20.5 +125

This is a gut feeling on my part, but the raw talent that Love has shown seems like it has the opportunity to make a mark. The door's wide open for someone to make a move. Love impressed at the last scrimmage, and he fits the mold of the tall athlete (6'3, 210 pounds) the Badgers want at receiver. I might be wrong, but I believe in Love.

Sorry.

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