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Wisconsin football: Media Day round-up

Initial updates and thoughts after hearing from Paul Chryst, Jake Ferguson and Bobby April

Matt Belz

It’s finally football season! With fall camp starting up tomorrow for the Wisconsin football team, Paul Chryst and the rest of the team met with the media for a little over an hour today in Madison.

In his press conference held in the bowels of Camp Randall Stadium, Paul Chryst highlighted that he likes his team and is eager to see their growth from spring practice. Chryst noted that there is really a 24 day span of practices to lay the foundation for this upcoming season prior to kickoff against South Florida on August 30th. Over the course of those practices he hopes to find some answers on positions like quarterback, outside linebacker, cornerback, offensive line and in the kicking game.

Starting with the latter, Chryst noted that the place kicking competition is completely wide open, with no favorites emerging after spring practice. Many have thought that it would be sophomore Collin Larsh, but that battle will rage on in fall camp.

On the quarterbacks, Chryst noted that the team needs improvement and increased consistency across the board. He acknowledged that he liked how Jack Coan has maximized his growth using his experiences from last year, but also noted that he is not a veteran yet. Chryst stated that he still plans to use the first week of practice as installation and review for all the quarterbacks, but that after that it is all about letting them play it out. The competition still seems fairly open heading into the first day of fall camp, as Chryst seeks to find that elusive consistency from the position.

In terms of the cornerback position Chryst brought up the growth of Faion Hicks from last season, and expects a big jump from the sophomore to be. He primarily brought up how he has been more consistent, having more highs than lows now, and Chryst compared his growth to that of Sojourn Shelton.

After the press conference with Paul Chryst, B5Q had the opportunity to speak with a couple players and coaches as well. Today we breakdown our talks with sophomore tight end Jake Ferguson and outside linebacker coach Bobby April.

Jake Ferguson seems primed for a breakout season after having a stellar freshman year in which he reeled in 36 receptions for 456 yards and four touchdowns. Ferguson noted while meeting with B5Q that he is excited for the upcoming season and that he has been working on improving his strength and blocking technique over the off-season. He admitted that last year really helped him in terms of improving his understanding of the game, his role as a tight end and how to execute his responsibilities on the field. While he is hoping to become a more well rounded tight end, Ferguson also stated that he likes the growth of freshman walk-on Jack Eschenbach out of Illinois.

Last year at this time outside linebacker coach Bobby April was a newcomer to the Wisconsin staff after coaching for several years in the NFL. April mentioned that after enjoying a summer filled with family time and recruiting, he is excited to get back to football and continue to help the outside linebacker group grow as a unit. He likes the group as a whole and expects competition for the spot opposite of Zack Baun.

While Izayah Green-May and Noah Burks both received the bulk of the first team reps in spring practice, he also liked the progression of Spencer Lytle and Jaylan Franklin. He brought up that Lytle has gained around 19 pounds, mostly muscle, over the past six months, and that he is impressed with how instinctual he plays, especially in space, and how quickly he has picked up the playbook. In terms of Jaylan Franklin, April sees him as a quick, “twitched up” pass rusher who is transitioning to be a defensive playmaker who is getting better each day.

Keep tabs on Bucky’s 5th Quarter for more coverage of today’s interviews, as we have more coming from players Eric Burrell, Scott Nelson, Garrett Rand and Bryson Williams in the coming days.