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Wisconsin’s offensive line to see new set of starters entering spring ball

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A look at the Badgers’ big men up front.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T

Gone are Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel and David Edwards to chase their NFL dreams.

Also gone is Jon Dietzen, who left football altogether.

That makes four of the five regular starters from the Wisconsin Badgers’ 2018 offensive line that will not return this upcoming season, leaving opportunity for those previously behind them to step up and continue the legacy of the reputable position group.

For the spring as well, head coach Paul Chryst announced on Monday that both redshirt juniors Tyler Biadasz and Cole Van Lanen—expected starters for the 2019 season—will be out during these 15 practices. That leaves even more room for reps and experience to be had for those participating in spring ball.

2019 spring roster for Wisconsin’s offensive linemen

  • Andrew Lyons, redshirt freshman; did not play in 2018
  • Logan Bruss, redshirt sophomore (13 games, six starts)
  • Tyler Biadasz, redshirt junior (13 games, all starts)
  • Tyler Beach, redshirt sophomore (13 games)
  • Cormac Sampson, redshirt freshman (one game, moving from tight end)
  • David Moorman, redshirt senior (13 games)
  • Aaron Vopal, redshirt sophomore (eight games on defensive line)
  • Josh Seltzner, redshirt sophomore (12 games)
  • Cole Van Lanen, redshirt junior (13 games, one start)
  • Alex Fenton, redshirt sophomore; did not play in 2018
  • Michael Furtney, redshirt freshman; did not play in 2018
  • Kayden Lyles, redshirt sophomore (12 games, seven starts on defensive line)
  • Blake Smithback, redshirt sophomore; did not play in 2018 due to injury
  • Jason Erdmann, redshirt senior (13 games, one start)

*all 2018 stats

Why fans should pay attention to this position group in the spring

Pretty easy reasons why, to be honest—a lot of “new” faces will receive reps on the line. “New” may not even be the right adjective to use here for some though.

For example, the guards. Deiter and Benzschawel locked down the line for years at guard and now will likely play on Sundays at the next level, but Erdmann and Lyles have seen significant time already on the field. The former already has seen action as a reserve offensive lineman that’s played at guard, center and in UW’s “jumbo” package as a pseudo tight end. He enters his final year with 40 games played with one start. The latter comes back to the offensive side of the ball after taking on a selfless act for the program and serving as a defensive end during the 2018 season.

For the interior lineman, Chryst noted on Monday that both Erdmann and Lyles will receive snaps at center with Biadasz not participating in spring. That will help with at least three players have the ability to snap to whomever wins the starting quarterback race.

For the guard position as well, the former walk-on in Seltzner saw some first-team snaps last fall camp at right guard with injuries to the position group holding players out temporarily. How the Columbus, Wis., native, who played in 12 games last season, asserts himself this spring could determine if he sets up himself up for more opportunities with the starters in August.

Moorman enters his final year in Madison with the versatility to apparently play multiple positions. On the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl game notes, the Wisconsin listed the Michigan native as the No. 2 left guard behind Deiter.

With Van Lanen out, left tackle will be interesting to watch. With Tuesday spring practices open to the media starting next week, B5Q will monitor who is taking reps. When the coaching staff listed Van Lanen on the injury list as “out” against Rutgers (though he wound up playing anyways), offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph mentioned Tyler Beach and Moorman in addition to Logan Bruss as those that could potentially replace fill in at left tackle that week to spell Dietzen.

A redshirt sophomore, Beach looks the part at 6’6 and 307 pounds. The reps this spring could provide invaluable experience in his development. A UWBadgers.com article from late February referenced Rudolph noting the Grafton, Wis., native as the third tackle of the group behind Van Lanen and Bruss.

For right tackle, Bruss locked down the spot for Edwards the final three games of the season due to injury. I would expect him to be the guy at that spot once again.

Behind them, I am intrigued to watch how Furtney and Fenton continue to develop and how they use the spring reps as well. In that same UWBadgers.com article, Mike Lucas writes that Rudolph predicts the former “to get work inside.”

Mind you, this is all before 2019 signees Logan Brown, Joe Tippmann and walk-on Logan O’Brien come to Madison during the summer to fill out the position group.