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Wisconsin football: 2019 fall camp roster changes, updates and notes

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The 105 man camp roster has been released, what’s changed in Madison?

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Because we’re literally so starved for the sport of football (a dying sport, I’ve read on twitter dot com), the Badgers released their 2019 fall camp roster and I only looked at it while at work for 20-25 minutes.

This is always one of the more interesting times of the year, as you can get an idea of how some of the players’ bodies are developing, growing (or shrinking) and in general keeping track of how the strength and conditioning staff is doing.

Now, I’m not going to post every single weight change, number change, or things of that nature, but I will highlight things that are interesting or noteworthy - and things worth keeping an eye on as the season moves along.

Without any further ado:

FRESHMAN JERSEY NUMBERS

Now, these are always possible to change as their careers go on and other numbers become available, but here are the jersey numbers for the true freshmen on the roster:

5: QB Graham Mertz 6’3” 215
6: CB Dean Engram 5’9” 164
7: OLB Spencer Lytle 6’3” 223 (up 19 lbs from spring)
11: WR Stephen Bracey 5’10” 172
12: S Titus Toler 5’11” 192
14: WR Jordan DiBenedetto 6’0” 190 (walk ons in italics)
18: WR Cam Phillips 6’0” 176
20: CB Semar Melvin 5’11” 166
21: WR Cooper Nelson 6’4” 187
24: CB James Williams 5’10” 182
28: K Blake Wilcox 6’4” 228
28: FB Quan Easterling 6’3” 238
29: LB Jackson Kollath 6’1” 252 (eye emoji)
32: RB Julius Davis 5’10” 189
38: S Dante Caputo 5’11” 181
39: ILB Tatum Grass 6’2” 222
45: ILB Leo Chenal 6’2” 250 (up from 239 in spring)
50: OT Logan Brown 6’6” 311
51: DE Gio Paez 6’3” 305
55: ILB Maema Njongmeta 6’0” 220
56: DE Rodas Johnson 6’2” 293
62: OT Logan O’Brien 6’4” 265
63: LS Peter Bowden 6’2” 217
75: OT Joe Tippmann 6’6” 312
85: TE Clay Cundiff 6’3” 251
87: TE Hayden Rucci 6’4” 250
95: DE Keeanu Benton 6’4” 315

Position Changes

There were only a couple position changes, with one a lot more relevant to the on-field product than the other.

  • Madison Cone from CB to S

Cone, a true junior, makes the switch from slot CB to safety. While the bigger change, realistically, may come in the position title more than Cone’s role within the defense, this indicates that the Badgers may want to be more dependent on sub-packages. Having Cone out there as a coverage safety would allow safeties Scott Nelson and Eric Burrell the opportunity to play more up by the line of scrimmage where they’re more effective. This adds more speed and athleticism to the defense.

  • Hunter Johnson from ILB to RB

Johnson, a former walk on running back, moves back to his original position after switching over to defense during the spring. Attrition at the running back position forced Johnson back to the offensive side by the end of spring, but it’s an official change on the roster now.

Roster Attrition

Two players from UW’s spring roster are gone, and one new player to the program has made the 105 man camp roster.

Griffin Grady, who moved from inside to outside linebacker during spring, has left the team due to medical reasons, and is seeking a “medical non-counter” scholarship. Grady played as a true freshman in 2016 before redshirting in 2017. Buried behind future NFLers in 2018, Grady was moved to outside linebacker during spring as an opportunity to get back on the field.

Nate Carter, a former walk on quarterback from Waunakee, was moved from QB to tight end during the spring. He doesn’t appear on this roster update.

However, there is a new member of the roster: Travis Wiltjer. Wiltjer, a former Division 2 player at Northwood University in Michigan. Wiltjer played three seasons at Northwood, recording 134 tackles in 19 games over the past two seasons. He’s listed at 6’2” and 225 pounds.

Weight Changes

A guilty pleasure of mine every time a new roster is released is seeing what changes the athletes have made to their profile and what progress has been made in summer/winter conditioning. Notable changes:

  • Safety Scott Nelson up from 197 to 204
  • Inside linebacker Seth Currens from 209 to 224 (moved from safety in spring)
  • Inside linebacker Chris Orr from 214 to 224 (down to 214 during spring ball)
  • Outside linebacker Zack Baun from 225 to 235
  • Offensive tackle Cormac Samson from 269 to 280 (moved from tight end in spring)
  • Offensive lineman David Moorman from 297 to 307
  • Tight end Luke Benzschawel from 269 (nice) to 276
  • Defensive end Matt Henningsen from 271 to 286
  • Defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk down from 307 to 293

Thoughts/What this means

Well, obviously without any comment from strength and conditioning coach Ross Kolodziej, it appears as though the Badgers are getting leaner on the offensive line - with no players above 332 pounds. Seemingly, an emphasis is being put on athleticism.

Every other position, however, seems to be getting thicker and bigger. Two incoming freshmen inside linebackers are 250 lbs. or heavier (L. Chenal, Kollath). Three tight ends are listed at 250 or heavier (Rucci, Cundiff, Benzschawel). Three tailbacks are listed at 219 or over (Taylor, Groshek, Watson). Defensive linemen are up and down weight, depending on what they’re being asked to do from a schematic standpoint.

What it really means though? The Wisconsin Badgers are ready to start fall camp, which means football is close!!