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Wisconsin football: Kendric Pryor and Faion Hicks seek to help team bounce back in 2019

Interviews with the two projected starters, and what they hope to accomplish in the 2019 season.

Wisconsin is widely known for their ability to develop offensive lineman and running backs. This recipe has helped Wisconsin generate the fifth most wins among the “Power Five” conferences trailing only Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Clemson over the last 15 years.

While that run first attitude is not likely to change, Kendric Pryor and his teammates in the wide receiver room are hoping to change the narrative that Wisconsin doesn’t have big time skill players this season. While speaking with the media today Pryor said that the group has been “trying to change the perspective of Wisconsin being a running school, putting the extra time in with Jack (Coan) running routes, working on our timing. Trying to help this offense be more balanced.”

Wisconsin returns it’s top six receivers from a season ago, not including the exciting return of recently reinstated wideout Quintez Cephus. In the Week 1 depth chart released on Sunday, A.J. Taylor and Pryor were the starters, with Cephus and Danny Davis as the backups. Those four players were given the nickname the “Fatal Four” before last season, but were not able to all play together due to the legal issues that surrounded Cephus this past year.

Jump forward to today, and Pryor was quick to acknowledge that having Cephus back was big for the team, stating “getting Q elevates our offense even more. If you have four of us on the field at the same time it is going to be hard for teams to guard all four of us.”

Pryor seemed to expect Cephus to play a role as soon as this Friday, helping to bring an “energy and passion to the field.” Cephus has also helped the team better understand not to take anything for granted, something that he learned and shared since breaking his ankle almost two years ago against Indiana, according to Pryor. This is a lesson that has pushed Pryor to appreciate the opportunity he has in front of him, stating “if you go out there and play like it’s your last play, last game all the time, you will have great results.”

Pryor feels as though all three quarterbacks on the roster can get the job done, but that this year Jack Coan “felt different.” The extra reps and increased confidence that he has seen from Coan makes him excited to see how this offense could look this year. Pryor continued by saying “his confidence and his maturity, the leadership role he took on” over the off-season has paid off during fall camp.

In need of a more balanced approach this season, Kendric Pryor and the other skill positions around Coan need to step up if his dream of changing the perspective of Wisconsin are to come true.

One player who is hoping to have a more balanced and consistent season in 2019 is sophomore cornerback Faion Hicks. As a redshirt freshman he played in all 13 games, starting 10 of them. He was able to intercept one pass, but also suffered his fair share of moments where he struggled.

Now a sophomore, Hicks appears more comfortable with what he is seeing on the field, and he believes that the experience he gained will be beneficial this season. He felt like playing last year allowed him to “learn the speed of things, and learn from my mistakes.” He went on to say “as a freshman and you are finally on the field, you realize that there is a difference between practice and game situations. Taking the mistakes I made last year and learning from it. Know how to put myself in a position, and really know how to play the game” were the major takeaways from a season ago for Hicks.

Pryor was complimentary of the speed that Hicks plays with, a trait that Pryor feels make him a tough matchup in practice. While Hicks was not always in the lineup during fall camp due to tendonitis, Hicks is now rested up and feels back at full strength.

Now entering game week, Pryor and Hicks are turning the page on fall camp, and are finally preparing for an opponent not wearing the same jersey. With a talented South Florida team looming, these two starters will be crucial pieces in changing the narrative for a Wisconsin team that is not getting the same hype as it did a year ago. After speaking with them both, I expect improvement from each, and an improved team overall in 2019.