To continue our summer of football preview content at Bucky’s 5th Quarter, we are counting down Wisconsin’s Top 10 Most Important Players for the 2019 football season. These aren’t necessarily the “best” players on Wisconsin’s team, although you will find many of those listed, but they have been deemed the most important to Wisconsin’s success this year by our motley crew of writers.
There was much debate via email over who should be on the list and it even resulted in Drew going to Owen’s house and ding dong ditching him. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and now we have our final list to present to you.
Here is No. 7 on that list: defensive lineman Garrett Rand
2018 stats: N/A (Missed entire season with Achilles injury)
2018 year in review: Garrett Rand was one of the bigger recruiting wins of Paul Chryst’s early tenure as Wisconsin head coach. While he’s seen plenty of playing time through his career, it’s almost exclusively been out of position.
Rand, who is 6’1” and around 275 lbs., has played backup nose tackle for his Badgers’ career thus far due to his impressive upper body strength but has struggled at times due to his smaller stature at the point of attack. However, headed into 2018 he was forecasted to play defensive tackle/end (semantics) in the Badgers’ 3-4 scheme. Then the Achilles injury happened.
2019 year in preview: I have Garrett Rand high on this list (and higher on my personal list) because to me he’s a difference maker on this defensive line that sorely needs one outside of Isaiahh Loudermilk. Rand is the type of player who has the potential to penetrate and disrupt the B gap, which hasn’t happened since Conor Sheehy graduated following the 13-1 2017 season.
Rand has NFL potential if he’s able to stay healthy and thrive in this much more natural position in the Badgers’ defense. A starting three of Loudermilk, Bryson Williams and Rand is a sight for sore eyes after scratching and clawing through 2018 with a former walk on (RS FR Matt Henningsen), a true freshman (Williams) and an offensive lineman (Kayden Lyles) as the starting three defensive linemen for most of the season.