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Badger Bits: Nick Nelson, Chris James make Sports Illustrated transfer list

Plus some UW volleyball news.

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Cornerback Nick Nelson before Wisconsin’s spring game in April.
Cornerback Nick Nelson before Wisconsin’s spring game in April.
Patrick Barron

Less than two weeks away from the start of Wisconsin Badgers fall camp, and while college football watch lists take a break from announcing student athletes until Monday, a couple of Badgers made another list on Friday.

Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen published a list of 10 transfers who will make the most noise this fall, and Wisconsin running back Chris James and cornerback Nick Nelson earned mention.

Wisconsin needs to replace running backs Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale, who last year combined for 1,881 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. James, who sat out last season in Madison after the transfer, should fit well into a new two-man rushing attack with Bradrick Shaw, who had 457 yards in 2016.

Nelson, who sat last season after transferring from Hawai’i, already faces high expectations heading into his first season with the Badgers. He’s set to replace Sojourn Shelton, who started four years for Wisconsin, as the No. 1 cornerback in a secondary that lost two of its key veteran players in Shelton and safety Leo Musso. Former No. 3 cornerback Natrell Jameson has moved to safety to replace Musso, and under new coordinator Jim Leonhard, the Badgers’ defense isn’t expected to miss much of a beat despite the personnel changes.

Their place on this list is much deserved alongside West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and a familiar name in Florida quarterback Malik Zaire, who was rumored on end to possibly join Wisconsin’s football program in the winter.

Both players shined in the spring, with James showing home-run capability every time he was in the open field and Nelson locking down his side of the field against opposing receivers. There’s a justified hype for their potential on both sides of the ball, with all-conference honors possible barring injuries or other unforeseen circumstances.

Wisconsin volleyball news

Some good news and bad news for head coach Kelly Sheffield’s program. Let’s start with the uncertainty of sophomore Molly Haggerty, as the Wisconsin State Journal’s Dennis Punzel reported a reaggravation of the herniated disk in her lower back could cloud her availability for the 2017 season.

That would be a significant loss for the Badgers, as Haggerty was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a third-team All-American in 2016. Punzel does report Haggerty is “optimistic” about being cleared to practice next month.

Better news? Punzel also reported Wisconsin received a commitment from setter Izzy Ashburn for the class of 2019. The bond between the prep standout and current women’s player Sydney Hilley proved to be a huge factor.


  • Basketball evaluation period continues, with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus featuring 2019 guard D.J. Carton, who holds a Wisconsin offer.
  • We should have featured this last weekend, but here’s Jim Polzin’s article from July 7 on Wisconsin assistant coach Howard Moore’s work in Chicago with his “Legends Taking Back the Streets” event.
  • Here’s Wisconsin’s football team playing paintball:
  • Need another hype video for football season? Here you go: