It's been over a week since Wisconsin concluded its spring football season (doesn't it seem like forever ago?).
Last week, BadgerBlitz.com's John Veldhuis gave us his opinions on the 15 spring practices he covered for the Badgers; today, another one of our B5Q alums -- the Wisconsin State Journal's Jason Galloway -- answers our questions about who stepped up in practice, and where he's anticipating position battles come the fall.
B5Q: In your opinion, was there one or two players that stood out the most to you during spring practices?
Jason Galloway (JG): T.J. Edwards was the No. 1 standout guy for me. Inside linebacker was the biggest question mark entering spring, and the redshirt freshman looks like the next star on defense for Wisconsin. In the two scrimmages before the spring game, he totaled three interceptions and three sacks. Depth is still an issue at that position, but the Badgers will be fine if Edwards and Leon Jacobs stay healthy. On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Robert Wheelwright showed early on that he can beat some of Wisconsin's best defensive backs in one-on-one situations. The key for him is staying healthy. If he does that, he could be a major contributor this season.
B5Q: Which player(s) surprised you the most during spring?
JG: Freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook was a major surprise. Austin Kafentzis came to campus with more hype, but it was clear from the start that Hornibrook was the more game-ready of the two. Head coach Paul Chryst started giving Hornibrook more reps as spring progressed, and I believe he could legitimately compete with D.J. Gillins and Bart Houston this fall if he keeps improving. Wide receiver Jazz Peavy also surprised me. I hadn't seen much of him before this spring, and he has a chance to enter the season as the Badgers' No. 3 receiver.
B5Q: Were there any positions heading into spring that you were worried about, that afterwards, you feel the team should be fine in?
JG: I mentioned inside linebackers earlier, although depth remains a concern there. Like most that follow Wisconsin football, I wasn't sold on the wide receiving corps entering spring. But it's obvious Wheelwright and Peavy have talent if they can just stay healthy, and Reggie Love has also shown potential for a breakout season. Love took first-team reps alongside Alex Erickson when Wheelwright was injured earlier in the spring.
B5Q: Which positions are the most concerning heading into summer conditioning?
JG: The offensive line has consistently been one of the most solid positions at Wisconsin, but I'm a bit worried about this year's group. The defense recorded 10 sacks during the spring game, and two of those came from the second-team defense against the first-team offense. Granted, that's with center Dan Voltz and left guard Ray Ball out. When healthy, the starting five should be fine. But Voltz and Ball also suffered injuries last year, and an offensive line rarely stays completely healthy over a full season. The Badgers have to improve their depth at the position before the season begins.
B5Q: Which positions/depth chart spots are most up for grabs heading into summer conditioning/fall camp?
JG: There are a few close battles going on. Redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal has closed the gap on Dare Ogunbowale for the No. 2 running back spot behind Corey Clement, and Wisconsin will add two talented freshmen at the position this fall in Jordan Stevenson and Bradrick Shaw. No starting position on the defensive line is locked up right now. Chikwe Obasih, Alec James, Arthur Goldberg, Conor Sheehy and Jake Keefer have all spent time on the first team during spring ball. Houston appears to be the second choice at quarterback right now, but Gillins had a strong last couple of weeks.