With all the spotlight on the men's basketball team, the Wisconsin Badgers football program started (quietly, somewhat) its spring practices Sunday afternoon.
Among the biggest news: a starting quarterback was named and a few rumored positioned changes seem to be coming to fruition.
Joel Stave is Wisconsin's starting quarterback
On first day of spring practice, #Badgers coach Paul Chryst said senior Joel Stave is his starting quarterback.— Andy Baggot (@AndyBaggotWSJ) March 16, 2015
Chryst on distributing QB reps: "Joel (Stave) is our starter ... Joel will get the ones, Bart and DJ will get the twos." #Badgers— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) March 16, 2015
Many believed former starting quarterback Tanner McEvoy would be transitioning to another position (which is the case -- more on that later). Even before the official word of McEvoy's position change, Stave was the projected starter based on his 21-7 starting record. Now, he's only Badgers signal caller with significant on-the-field experience.
The Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot noted Sunday that senior Thad Armstrong, along with true freshmen Austin Kafentzis and Alex Hornibrook, were in the rotation.
Liked how Stave threw the ball today. Houston & Gillins looked better than last year. Both freshmen had their moments too. #Badgers— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) March 15, 2015
#Badgers practice just wrapped up. McEvoy spent the day at S, no QB. Natrell Jamerson also now @ CB. Connor Senger moved from QB to WR.— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) March 15, 2015
McEvoy worked at safety during practice, but it appears that a return to the offensive side may be in store, but not at quarterback:
Chryst said #Badgers are also planning on working McEvoy at WR in addition to S.— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) March 16, 2015
The former JUCO transfer rushed for 574 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 8.8 yards per carry last season. McEvoy's athleticism allowed him to play on defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's defense in 2013 and during the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day. His presence on both sides of the ball could be a significant factor in 2015, especially as a receiving target until a second wideout steps up to complement senior Alex Erickson.
Walk-on sophomore Connor Senger appears to be headed to the receiver position with McEvoy as well, but sophomore Natrell Jamerson will be facing his former position group on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage:
Apparent position changes for #Badgers on first day of spring practice: Natrell Jamerson WR to DB and Connor Senger from QB to WR.— Andy Baggot (@AndyBaggotWSJ) March 15, 2015
Other news and notes
Here's some more musings presented on Twitter by the media covering practice on Sunday, the most concerning being the status of redshirt freshman inside linebacker D'Cota Dixon:
Chryst also said D’Cota Dixon will sit out all of spring camp. Recovering from shoulder surgery. #Badgers— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) March 16, 2015
Dixon still has the ability to start opposite junior linebacker Leon Jacobs at inside linebacker, but his chance to compete on the field will have to wait until summer camp. This could open the door for redshirt sophomore Jack Cichy, redshirt freshman T.J. Edwards or true freshman Nick Thomas to gain valuable reps with the first-team defense in the next month.
Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez here for first spring football practice of the Paul Chryst Era. Would have thought he'd be in Chicago.— Andy Baggot (@AndyBaggotWSJ) March 15, 2015
Chryst said right now Jaden Gault is just focusing on school. Nothing in the football side of the program. #Badgers— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) March 16, 2015
No pads for #Badgers today, so no team drills. No Skelly either. Lots of positional work, fundamentals.— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) March 15, 2015