MADISON — Now halfway through their 15 allotted spring practices, the Wisconsin Badgers wrapped up session No. 8 on Thursday morning inside the McClain Center.
Walk-on-turned-significant contributor at running back Garrett Groshek returned to practice in limited fashion after previously being designated as “out for spring” with a right leg injury. Early in the nearly two-hour session, he worked with fellow running back Jonathan Taylor on route running with head coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard watching and providing instruction.
Groshek, who now dons a Vince Biegel-esque mullet (#justobservingthedetails), stepped up last season as injuries plagued the Badgers’ running backs. He rushed for 297 yards on 4.9 yards per carry with two touchdowns.
Outside linebacker Zack Baun (illness) returned and practiced. Wide receiver Emmet Perry worked in team drills, though no other official injury updates were reported by Wisconsin outside of Groshek practicing.
- Though right tackle David Edwards is ruled out for the rest of the spring, it does not mean his presence is not felt. At one point in practice, he spoke with redshirt freshman Tyler Beach and was working with him on technique.
- Wide receivers Jack Dunn, Aron Cruickshank, and Cade Green all practiced returning punts. Green continues to work back from his left leg injury and caught some passes earlier in the practice, but I did not see him during the team portion.
- Redshirt freshman Kayden Lyles received some work at both left and right guard with what appeared to be the first team before some reps at center with the reserves. Walk-on Jason Erdmann worked in some snaps at center with the “first team.”
- With Patrick Kasl gone for the second part of practice—again, presuming for class—Brett Connors worked at right tackle with Edwards out.
- Catch of the day No. 1: A.J. Taylor hauled in an Alex Hornibrook pass for a would-be touchdown with some pretty decent coverage from cornerback Caesar Williams, as the junior wideout kept his foot/feet inbounds in the front corner of the end zone.
- Williams worked alongside the “first-team” defense again on Thursday with Madison Cone as the other corner. Scott Nelson and Patrick Johnson again worked as safeties.
- When the defense showed a nickel look, Williams and Cone were joined by redshirt freshman Faion Hicks in the reps that I saw.
- Catch of the day No. 2: Jack Coan found wide receiver Chris Clementi, who dove and reeled in another deep pass toward the goal line to end practice.
- From my perspective, Perry performed well on Thursday. He caught a nice pass in one-on-one drills in the end zone, and with the injuries throughout the receiving corp, worked alongside Taylor and Dunn in three-wide receiver sets during team work. I believe he made at least a couple of catches in that series of reps as well.
- A decent showing of pass-rush/pass-protection drills from the likes of offensive/defensive linemen, linebackers/safeties, and running backs, fullbacks, and tight ends. I need to watch those drills more, but from watching what I have, I like what I see out of the inside linebackers and most of the outside linebackers.
- During what appeared to be some after-practice developmental work, true freshman safety Reggie Pearson intercepted a pass, leading to some excitement from his fellow defensive backs.
- Former Badgers were scattered across the McClain Center toward the end of practice, including Alex Erickson, Garret Dooley, Jack Cichy, and Troy Fumagalli.
Tonight, we’ll drop another episode of Bucky’s 5th Podcast, with interviews from true freshmen Bryson Williams and Cruickshank, along with Nelson. Some really intriguing interviews with the younger players as they make their way through their first spring camp.