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Badger Bits: Wide receivers must emerge before season's start

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Jared Abbrederis led Wisconsin in receiving yards last season and the Badgers will look for the redshirt junior to lead the charge again in 2012.
Jared Abbrederis led Wisconsin in receiving yards last season and the Badgers will look for the redshirt junior to lead the charge again in 2012.

There is no question the Badgers lost their fair share of impact players to graduation and the NFL after last season, but despite these departures, Wisconsin still appears to be the early favorite to win the Leaders Division. The return of Montee Ball, as well as Danny O'Brien's transfer to UW, certainly help stabilize a couple major positions, but Wisconsin will still need to see great improvements from other positions to make it back to Indianapolis.

It is difficult to pinpoint which position needs to see the most improvement before next season.'s Brian Bennett writes that the wide receivers must make the greatest gains for Wisconsin this offseason, but you could also make a case for the defensive line or defensive backs.

I would argue the defensive line is the most critical to UW's success of the three position groups - in order to pressure the opposing quarterback and ease some of the burden off the secondary - but Bennett is correct about the wide receivers needing to have a "home run summer." While the defensive line is deep with a multitude of guys who can make an impact, it still desperately needs projected starters like defensive end David Gilbert to rise to the challenge. The defensive line needs to increase its pass rush, but the wide receiver position remains in more disarray, with nearly all spots still up for grabs and the depth chart far from being set.

Playing alongside fellow wideout Nick Toon, Jared Abbrederis had a breakout season in 2011. He caught 55 passes for a team-leading 933 yards and eight touchdowns, while ranking third in the country with nearly 16 yards per punt return. As much success as Toon, Abbrederis and tight end Jacob Pedersen had last year, third and fourth wideout options failed to emerge. With Toon gone to the NFL, the Badgers desperately need a cohesive receiving corps to form before the season begins.

Wednesday's Links:

The upcoming season is setting up well for the Badgers to make another Rose Bowl run, so they need to seize the opportunity.

Sam Dekker will soon join the Wisconsin basketball program, but yesterday he and the U18 USA National Team defeated Argentina in the medal round semifinals. Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal writes about Dekker's winning ways and what makes him special.

Want to relive last year's Big Ten Championship game or the 2010 upset over No. 1 Ohio State? Well, BTN will have you covered with 24 hours of Badger game replays and other Wisconsin related shows on June 25.

The Badger football team switched things up a bit on Tuesday when players and coaches went paintballing. combined schools' final BCS rankings from 2007 through 2012, and Wisconsin fared particularly well.