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Wisconsin 2017 spring football: Projected starters, injuries announced for Badgers

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Here are the changes coming to the Badgers’ roster this spring.

81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Western Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

March Madness is upon us, but so is the beginning of the Wisconsin Badgers’ spring football practice schedule. On Tuesday, the third set of spring sessions commences under head coach Paul Chryst. Fifteen practices, including the Friday-night spring game on April 21 at Camp Randall Stadium, will allow players to continue their development for a team fresh off of an 11-win season.

UWBadgers.com’s Andy Baggot published a story on Monday detailing the “10 things to know for Wisconsin spring football practice.” Here’s the quick breakdown of the information provided.

Projected, expected starters

Maybe the biggest news is redshirt sophomore David Edwards projecting to be the left tackle. A former tight end, Edwards started at right tackle for seven games last season in place of the injured Jacob Maxwell. His athleticism is noteworthy, as he was also a former prep quarterback. Newly-signed Detroit Lions right tackle Rick Wagner was a prep tight end before moving to both tackle positions.

Hawaii transfer Nick Nelson looks to be in line to start opposite Derrick Tindal at cornerback. The hype for Nelson possibly could have facilitated the move for senior Natrell Jamerson to safety, as well as add a proven name in the defensive backfield to increase competition for the open free safety spot that could be taken by Arrington Farrar or Patrick Johnson.

For anyone asking if Karé Lyles or Jack Coan could usurp redshirt sophomore Alex Hornibrook as the starting quarterback, it appears Chryst is set on the southpaw:

"He is the guy," Chryst said of Hornibrook, who started nine games in 2016. "He knows it and he thinks it."

Lots of Badgers out for spring practices

Many players are sitting out this spring due to injuries, which can open the door for younger players to gain invaluable reps in development. They include the following:

  • Cornerbacks Titus Booker (shoulder) and Caesar Williams (core)
  • Defensive end Chikwe Obasih (hip)
  • Fullback Jake Whalen (shoulder)
  • Inside linebackers Jack Cichy and Ryan Connelly (shoulder ailments), T.J. Edwards (foot), Chris Orr (knee), Mason Stokke (knee)
  • Running back Taiwan Deal (ankle)
  • Offensive linemen Jon Dietzen (ankle) and Jacob Maxwell (shoulder)
  • Wide receiver Ricky “Please don’t lose that Hair” Finco (shoulder)

That’s a lot of contributing inside linebackers, as all four starters the past two years will be sitting.

Both Booker and Williams missing time—and Jamerson’s move to safety—leaves opportunity for players like senior Lubern Figaro, redshirt freshman Dontye Carriere-Williams and early enrollees Madison Cone and Faion Hicks to receive increased repetitions at cornerback this spring.

Position changes

  • Edwards to left tackle
  • Whalen from outside linebacker to fullback
  • Tyler Johnson from outside linebacker to inside linebacker after being called out by Tim Tibesar for making “huge strides” in December
  • It appears Leon Jacobs will stay at inside linebacker, though he played both fullback and inside linebacker last year
  • Jamerson back to a safety position from cornerback
  • Back-up quarterback Garrett Groshek to tailback
  • Defensive lineman Hegeman Tiedt to outside linebacker