MADISON — Michael Deiter was already viewed as a versatile lineman heading into the 2017 season. After Tuesday’s practice, there could be even more intrigue about the redshirt junior.
Deiter, who has started at both left guard and center the past two seasons, played left tackle with the first-team offense during Wisconsin’s 13th practice in place of redshirt sophomore David Edwards. Redshirt junior Micah Kapoi took over at left guard while redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz worked at center.
“Doing a little experiment, trying out some left tackle,” Deiter said after practice. “Dave’s got a little bit of an ankle bugging him, so we’re getting me some reps.”
Edwards took over at the start of spring at left tackle for Ryan Ramczyk, who declared for the NFL draft in January after an All-American redshirt junior season in 2016. The Illinois native, former college tight end, and former prep quarterback switched over from right tackle last season.
A couple of Fridays ago during Wisconsin’s second scrimmage, Edwards appeared to sustain a lower-leg injury but returned to practice the following Tuesday.
Wisconsin RB Chris James on tailbacks, juking defenders (B5Q/YouTube)
With depth growing on the offensive line with Kapoi and the emerging Biadasz, Deiter bumped farther outside. His experience leading the line and making calls for blocking as the center could serve valuable if further playing time at tackle is needed.
“You got to get everyone on the same page,” Deiter said about being a center. “Whereas a guard or tackle, you’re doing your best to help the center see everything. If you see something off the edge, you got to let them know so he can get the calls right. I think that’s something for me that I am good with because I’ve played center. I know what to look for, and when I can get out at tackle, I can see better. Get the calls back down to Tyler so we can get the perfect fits.”
The most difficult adjustment in blocking comes when facing the smaller, quicker defenders compared to interior defensive linemen.
“It’s definitely the change in athleticism,” Deiter said. “Olive’s an athletic guy, but he’s still 340 pounds. Then, you get a guy like [outside linebacker Garret] Dooley who’s 250 [pounds] and way faster, you just kind of have to change your mentality a little bit versus some of those more athletic guys.”
It remains to be seen how much work Deiter will get out on the edge for the remainder of spring, heading into fall camp, and beyond. For now, this work could be another feather in the cap of a reliable and could-be all-conference lineman.
“It’s been a lot of fun to all of those different positions,” Deiter said. “It’s something that I like to have in my back pocket to say I can play tackle, guard or center. I’ve been working all three, so to be able to get good reps at all three reps, it’s been a lot of fun.”
- I really liked the zip on Alex Hornibrook’s passes today. During red-zone skele (7-on-7s), the southpaw threw some darts to the likes of wide receivers A.J. Taylor and George Rushing (twice) and tight ends Troy Fumagalli and Kyle Penniston for touchdowns.
- During some late team drills, Hornibrook had a nice pass to Fumagalli down the seam that the former walk-on made a great catch on where no defender could get it.
- Speaking of Fumagalli, he made a nice, one-handed catch in the right flat at one point during the practice. I really like where his game is at.
- There were some impressive defensive plays as well. Senior cornerback Derrick Tindal ripped away a pass from wide receiver Jack Dunn and intercepted it towards the end of practice. The Florida native then had some fun dancing in the end zone. He also saw some looks at wide receiver, including a nice run off of a jet sweep for a substantial gain.
- Outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel tipped up and intercepted a pass. It appeared the JUCO transfer and redshirt sophomore Zack Baun worked with the second-team defense, with Dooley and fellow senior Leon Jacobs seeing reps with the first team. Based off what I’ve seen so far this spring, I’m thinking these four and maybe one or two others will compete for playing time in fall camp.
Wisconsin RB Bradrick Shaw on spring goals, Chris James (B5Q/YouTube)