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How We Got Here: Where Wisconsin football is headed

After looking at Wisconsin’s recent development, it’s time to look ahead.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After looking at Wisconsin’s recent recruiting history as well as the making of its offense and defense, today’s piece concludes our examination of Wisconsin’s roster. Please feel free to share your feedback in the comments.

Current Players

On Wisconsin’s official roster, 79 players are listed as either redshirt sophomores, sophomores, redshirt freshmen, or true freshman. That’s a lot! At first glance, there are many familiar faces from the teams that have had a lot of recent success, but if you peel back the onion, you see the incredible amount of youth and depth that is being built in Madison.

Wisconsin is projected to return 14 of 22 starters next season, and at almost every position has multiple players who have played this season that will be in line to take over.

The more recruiting classes Paul Chryst runs through Wisconsin, the more talented the roster will continue to become. Keep in mind, not one player Chryst has recruited to Wisconsin has had the opportunity to graduate yet.


Speaking of recruiting, Wisconsin is continuing to trend in the right direction. Earlier this year, SBNation’s Alex Kirshner wrote how Wisconsin’s 2019 class could be a difference-maker for the Badgers.

Currently committed in the 2019 class:

  • Logan Brown, a five-star offensive tackle ranked as the 14th overall player in the nation. Brown is the second-highest rated commit in UW history.
  • Graham Mertz, an Elite 11 quarterback who picked Wisconsin over Texas A&M, Georgia, Notre Dame, and many other schools. Mertz has been active on the recruiting front, getting involved in attempting to woo fellow recruits to Madison.
  • Spencer Lytle, an outside linebacker from California who picked Wisconsin out of 42 offers. Lytle is the first true 3-4 outside linebacker Wisconsin has recruited since Chryst took over, which is a tough position to recruit.

Among 11 other recruits are Wisconsinites Julius Davis, Leo Chenal, and Keeanu Benton, so the Badgers have kept an emphasis on securing the top in-state talent, as well as branching into Michigan over the past couple of seasons and continuing to have success in Florida and North Carolina to find athletes for the skill positions.

In the 2020 class, which is obviously still a ways away (they’re juniors in high school), Wisconsin has the top two prospects in Wisconsin committed, and all four commits are trench players, a current area of concern for Wisconsin’s depth as we’ve discussed.

  • Trey Wedig is a top-100 player currently, a four-star offensive tackle from Kettle Moraine High School.
  • Jack Nelson is a top-200 player, currently a four-star offensive tackle from Stoughton High School.
  • Dylan Barrett, an offensive lineman from Illinois, and Ben Barten, a lineman from Stratford High School who could end up on either side of the ball, are also both highly-regarded prospects.

Wisconsin is never going to be a top-10 recruiting school, and that’s fine. The Badgers just need to continue on their current track and more success will come, even if it means fans will have to exhibit some patience that seemingly has been waining during this disappointing (to some) 2018 season.

Projected Starting Lineup in 2019

For fun, let’s take a look at what Wisconsin’s starting lineups could look like next season:

QB: Alex Hornibrook
RB: Jonathan Taylor
FB: Mason Stokke
WR: Kendric Pryor
WR: A.J. Taylor
WR: Danny Davis III
TE: Jake Ferguson
LT: Cole Van Lanen
LG: Jon Dietzen
C: Tyler Biadasz
RG: Jason Erdmann
RT: Logan Bruss

DE: Isaiahh Loudermilk
NT: Bryson Williams
DE: Garrett Rand
OLB: Zack Baun
ILB: Chris Orr
ILB: Jack Sanborn
OLB: Tyler Johnson
CB: Faion Hicks
CB: Rachad Wildgoose
CB: Deron Harrell
FS: Scott Nelson
SS: Eric Burrell

Italics: Has started at least one game in 2018
Bold: Senior in 2019

That’s six returning projected senior starters in 2019! That shows how insanely young this Badger team is, and will even be next year, with an added year of experience and development.

Don’t quit on this team yet, Badger fans. They’re going through some growing pains this season, but the best is yet to come. Have some faith, and enjoy the ride.