Fall camp for the Wisconsin Badgers has gotten underway so it is time for us to speculate wildly as to what the divvying up of reps during practice means for the depth chart come August 30th. Over the next two weeks we will be previewing each position group so that you’ll have an idea of what to expect once the season actually kicks off.
We looked at the running backs and fullbacks on Monday, now let’s see who’ll be catching the ball, hopefully in the endzone a lot.
The Badgers head into fall camp with a deep and talented wide receiver corps. Everyone at the position returns from last season, including presumed starters A.J. Taylor and Danny Davis. This year’s wideouts will be relied upon heavily to open up Paul Chryst’s offense. With the inexperience and uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position, wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore’s group will be hugely important in the development of whoever starts under center.
Wisconsin’s wide receiver corps had an up and down 2018, but with another year of experience and development under their belts, this is a position group poised for a breakout 2019 season.
2018 Statistical Leaders
Danny Davis: 30 receptions, 418 yards, 10.5 YPC, 5 touchdowns
A.J. Taylor: 32 receptions, 521 yards, 16.3 YPC, 3 touchdowns
Kendric Pryor: 23 receptions, 273 yards, 11.9 YPC, 2 touchdowns
2019 Roster - Wide Receiver
Seniors: A.J. Taylor
Juniors: Danny Davis III, Kendric Pryor (RS), Jack Dunn (RS), Adam Krumholz (RS)
Sophomores: Aron Cruickshank, Emmet Perry (RS), Cade Green (RS)
Freshmen: A.J. Abbott (RS), Taj Mustapha (RS), Mike Gregoire (RS), Stephan Bracey, Cooper Nelson, Cam Phillips, Jordan Dibenedetto,
2019 Position Overview/Discussion
Wisconsin’s offense will once again be built around the run game, but to have any shot at a Big Ten title, the Badgers will have to move the ball through the air consistently. The entire wide receiver group returns from 2018, with senior A.J. Taylor, junior Danny Davis and redshirt junior Kendric Pryor expected to see the majority of targets.
Last season Taylor led the team with 521 receiving yards, and his quickness makes him a major threat in the slot for the Badgers. Taylor pairs well with the 6’3’’ Davis, who is a more physical receiver and flashed as a red zone threat with five touchdowns in 2018. Davis is the true x-factor as the Badgers begin fall camp. The Springfield, Ohio native is one of the most talented wideouts to come through the program in recent years and is poised to bounce back after a shaky 2018.
Pryor is a solid third option and will see plenty of snaps in three-receiver sets. Paul Chryst has liked to use Pryor on jet sweeps (12 att., 116 rush yards, one TD in 2018) in the past, and his speed and versatility will be an important wrinkle in the offense.
Speaking of jet sweeps, sophomore Aron Cruickshank is another name to keep an eye on during fall camp. The New York native’s elite speed was put on full display last season as a kick returner, and while he may not be physically ready to see tons of targets, I’d expect Chryst to find creative ways to get him the ball in space. Judging by his catch at practice last week, Cruickshank is more than ready to make a difference this year:
Redshirt juniors Jack Dunn and Adam Krumholz, as well as redshirt freshmen Taj Mustapha and A.J. Abbott are the other players with a chance to see some game experience. Dunn has shown poise and great ball security as the Badgers’ punt returner and is a logical choice to backup Taylor in the slot. Mustapha and Abbott will likely only provide depth in 2019, but a strong fall camp from either and they could push Pryor and Dunn for playing time.
Overall, this is a wide receiver group with tons of room to improve. Davis has a chance to take the next step, while Cruickshank and Pryor are both exciting pieces in Wisconsin’s offense. The statistical success of these wideouts will ultimately depend on how the quarterback position shakes out, but regardless of statistics this group will be much improved and deeper than a season ago.