Finally, football is back. Sort of. The Wisconsin Badgers opened fall camp on Monday, following Sunday’s media day festivities. On days such as the past three days, when we’re unable to get out to practice ourselves, we’ll do our best to bring you roundups of relevant media analysis and observations from practice.
Wednesday was the first practice with pads (half-pads) for the team, and team drills started to take shape. Wisconsin Sports Zone Network’s Zach Heilprin reported there were four interceptions thrown, with two returned for touchdown by cornerback Sojourn Shelton. The senior will lead the secondary this year, and though early, it’s a promising start.
Heilprin also noted junior Natrell Jamerson, who appeared to be the nickelback heading into fall camp, also flashed with two interceptions.
No QB was safe from Sojourn Shelton today. Picked off both Houston and Hornibrook, could have returned then both for TDs— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) August 10, 2016
Quintez Cephus, freshmen getting in on action early
Having a true freshman play a prominent role on either side of the ball early on in their career is rare, but it’ll be interesting to see which young Badgers adjust quickly to the college game.
Wide receiver Quintez Cephus caught the eye of a few writers on Wednesday, making some catches. He also showed some fire during a blocking drill, which junior cornerback Derrick Tindal apparently didn’t appreciate.
First day in half pads was a good one for true freshman Quintez Cephus, who made a pair of nice fingertip catches in team drills— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) August 10, 2016
No Rob Wheelright today. Quintez Cephus took advantage. Freshman hauled in two deep balls. #Badgers— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) August 10, 2016
The #Badgers' first padded practice is complete. Freshmen WRs A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus got quite a few reps in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.— Jason Galloway (@Jason_Galloway) August 10, 2016
Media in attendance also noticed other freshmen getting in on the action as well:
#Badgers Garrett Rand, physically impressive for a freshman, got work at nose tackle Wednesday -- with No. 2 unit.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) August 10, 2016
#Badgers freshman class has juice. Quintez Cephus, Dontye Carriere-Williams, Patrick Johnson, A.J. Taylor all did some nice things in pads.— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) August 10, 2016
Roster moves from earlier this week
One of the surprise revelations from media day was the absences of redshirt freshman offensive tackle Kevin Estes and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Krenwick Sanders from the 105-man roster. Both came to the Badgers as promising recruits, so not having them on the roster was a surprising and disappointing development. They will, however, be able to rejoin the team in the fall.
Indeed, head coach Paul Chryst addressed their status on Monday.
PC says Kevin Estes and Krenwick Sanders aren't on the 105 purely from a numbers standpoint.— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) August 8, 2016
The biggest question mark for Justin Wilcox’s defense revolves around the safety positions, as two new starters will need to replace the production of departing seniors Michael Caputo and Tanner McEvoy. Per multiple reports, D’Cota Dixon and Leo Musso received first-team reps at safety to start camp, though it appears new defensive backs coach Jim Leonhard is looking at several options as of Wednesday. Sophomore Arrington Farrar and redshirt junior Joe Ferguson will be fighting for playing time and breaking into first-team reps in preparation for LSU on Sept. 3. Read more on Leonhard’s work with the safeties from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus.
Leo Musso and D’Cota Dixon were the first team safeties during drills today. #Badgers had Farrar and Ferguson w/ 2s.— John Veldhuis (@JohnVeldhuis) August 8, 2016
#Badgers Jim Leonhard looked at lots of S pairings today. No truth to rumor he was pulling names out of a hat.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) August 10, 2016
Transfer running back has good first day in half-pads
He can’t play until 2017, but that hasn’t stopped running back Chris James from looking solid early. Originally committing to play for Chryst at Pitt, Potrykus profiled James’ transfer to Wisconsin on Wednesday.
“I see this year as a year of work, not a year off,” James told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I need to take advantage of every opportunity that the coaches are going to give me.”
Junior Chris James also broke loose today. Outraced the defense down the sidelines for a 40-yard run. #Badgers— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) August 10, 2016
Has to sit this year, but Chris James is gonna be a really nice weapon next season. RB can kick in into high gear really quickly.— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) August 10, 2016
Keelon Brookins (groin), TJ Edwards (foot) and George Panos (shoulder) the injury list on day three— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) August 10, 2016
The Badgers return to the field on Thursday morning. Practice is closed to the media, but B5Q hopes to be there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.