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“Way-too-early” expectations for Wisconsin’s wide receivers in 2019

A look ahead to what the position group could do next season.

Much like Wisconsin’s 2018 season, the wide receivers corps had its ups and down throughout the year. Fortunately, the Badgers return everybody at the position for the 2019 season. Danny Davis, A.J. Taylor, Kendric Pryor, Aron Cruickshank, Taj Mustapha and Jack Dunn will all likely compete for playing time next year.

The production and receiving numbers will once again rely heavily on Wisconsin’s shaky quarterback play. Even with a run-heavy offense expected again in 2019, this wide receiver group under position coach Ted Gilmore has the potential to be great next season and should continue to be reliable weapons for whoever takes snaps at quarterback in the fall.

2018 Statistical Leaders

  • Sophomore Danny Davis: 40 receptions (led team), 464 receiving yards, five touchdowns (led team)
  • Junior A.J. Taylor: 32 receptions, 521 receiving yards (led team), three touchdowns
  • Redshirt sophomore Kendric Pryor: 23 receptions, 273 receiving yards, three touchdowns

Expectation No. 1: Danny Davis and A.J. Taylor will start

Wisconsin’s top two receivers from this past season, Davis and Taylor, are set to return in 2019. Davis was suspended for the first two games of 2018, but he would return week 3 against BYU to bolster Wisconsin’s passing game going into Big Ten play. He finished the year with a team-leading five touchdowns, including one against Purdue that was a catch of year candidate.

Davis has flashed tons of potential his first two years on campus, and should improve on a somewhat disappointing 2018 season. A rising junior, he is the presumed No. 1 wide receiver heading into next year.

A.J. Taylor, a rising senior, will also return and continue to be a dependable receiver for whoever is tabbed the starter at quarterback. Taylor led the Badgers with 521 receiving yards this year and his knack for big plays (16.3 yards per catch in 2018) will be crucial to the offense next season.

Pryor also had some big play ability in 2018. Fresh off a 35-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the Pinstripe Bowl, he has all the makings to be an above-average No. 3 option for the Badgers’ passing attack. The rising redshirt junior was also used in jet sweeps throughout the season—finishing with 12 rushes for 116 yards and a touchdown—and will likely continue to be utilized all over the field by head coach Paul Chryst in 2019.

Expectation No. 2: Aron Cruickshank will get more touches

Arguably Wisconsin’s fastest player, rising sophomore Aron Cruickshank is a name to keep an eye on this offseason. Cruickshank was used sparingly on offense in 2018 (six rushes, 51 yards, one touchdown; one reception, 11 yards), but the fact he returned 28 kickoffs as a true freshman suggests the coaching staff is excited about his skills with the ball in his hands. Cruickshank weighed only 154 pounds according to UW last season, but with another year in the weight room he has all the tools to become an explosive offensive weapon. I would expect Chryst and the offensive staff to unleash Cruickshank, at the very least as a gadget specialist, in 2019.