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Wisconsin football spring position preview: offensive line

Wisconsin’s most well-known position should be better in 2020, despite losing Tyler Biadasz.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T

Returning players:

Cole Van Lanen, left tackle - 6-foot-5 312 pounds - RS Senior

Logan Bruss, right tackle - 6-foot-5 310 pounds - RS Junior

Tyler Beach, tackle - 6-foot-6 309 pounds - RS Junior

Aaron Vopal, tackle - 6-foot-6 312 pounds - RS Junior

Josh Seltzner, guard - 6-foot-5 327 pounds - RS Junior

Kayden Lyles, guard/center - 6-foot-3 321 pounds - RS Junior

Blake Smithback, center - 6-foot-2 305 pounds - RS Junior

Michael Furtney, guard - 6-foot-5 307 pounds - RS Sophomore

Andrew Lyons, tackle - 6-foot-5 311 pounds - RS Sophomore

Logan Brown, tackle - 6-foot-6 311 pounds - RS Freshman

Joe Tippmann, center - 6-foot-6 312 pounds - RS Freshman

Logan O’Brien, tackle - 6-foot-4 265 pounds - RS Freshman

Departing players:

David Moorman, graduation

Jason Erdmann, graduation

Tyler Biadasz, early draft declaration

Arriving players:

Jack Nelson, tackle, 6-foot-5 273 pounds

Ben Barten, tackle/guard - 6-foot-6 270 pounds

Tanor Bortolini, center - 6-foot-4 270 pounds

Dylan Barrett, guard/center - 6-foot-5 305 pounds

Trey Wedig, tackle - 6-foot-8 320 pounds

Sean Timmis, guard/center - 6-foot-5 255 pounds

Kerry Kodanko, guard - 6-foot-3 275 pounds

Who needs a big spring to crack the two-deep/who are you most excited to see in spring?

Joe Tippmann strikes me as someone that has a major opportunity this spring to solidify or put himself in the conversation. Tippmann worked last season at center after playing tackle in high school. This is a major transition, and Tippmann being 6-foot-6 doesn’t necessarily aid his transition, as leverage is a huge part of dealing with nose tackles as a center. However, Tippmann possesses the athletic tools necessary to succeed at the position, so if he can continue to get more comfortable at center, he could find his way into the starting lineup if Kayden Lyles ends up at guard.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Logan Brown is the other big name everyone is excited to see, but imo he’s already in the two-deep. With Cole Van Lanen headed into his fifth year at left tackle, I’d assume Brown will be the backup at left tackle, with Tyler Beach and Logan Bruss fighting it out for right tackle. Brown is one of the highest touted recruits in Wisconsin history, but it looks like he will have to wait to 2021 to get his opportunity to start (which is good!).

Who has the potential to be an all-conference performer (no players who have already made an all-conference team)?

I think the easy answer here is Cole Van Lanen. In essence, heading into his third year as the starter at left tackle, he’s got a future on Sundays, and will be one of the top returning tackles in the Big Ten. Logan Bruss also projects as someone who could compete for all-conference recognition, heading into his second full-year as a starter, though he started multiple games in 2018 for the injured David Edwards.

Where will this position group improve from last season?

I think this group will be improved from an athletic standpoint. I mentioned this on Bucky’s 5th Podcast in February, but losing Jason Erdmann and David Moorman means a step up athletically will be in-store on the offensive line. Erdmann in particular, though he performed well and valiantly as a reserve and earned his role as a starter as a senior, was severely athletically limited, and that was really seen against Oregon.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin simply wasn’t as good as they need to be at guard in the Rose Bowl, and losing the two fifth year seniors should open opportunities for the more athletic kids entering the program.

Where will this position group be worse than last season?

This position group will be worse at the center position. Tyler Biadasz should be a second round pick at center. Whether it’s Tippmann, Lyles, or someone else at center in 2020, Biadasz’ shoes will be tough to fill. A three year starter, Biadasz has played in two Big Ten Championship games, a Rose Bowl, an Orange Bowl, and countless big games both in Camp Randall and on the road.

As the pivot, he’s the one making calls for the offensive line and identifying defensive fronts. That’s a big responsibility, and someone who’s been doing it as long as Biadasz did, will be tough to replace.