During the summer doldrums of sports news, many college football fans are starved for news and information regarding their favorite teams.
With that in mind, we at B5Q have decided to take a more detailed look at each walk-on contributor and scholarship player on the Wisconsin Badgers football roster for 2020 in a running feature, our 2020 returnee profiles.
Each weekday we will breakdown one player on the football roster to look back at their recruiting process, their career as a Badger to this juncture and lastly preview their potential contribution to the team in 2020 and beyond.
Today we take a look at Gio Paez.
Name: Gio Paez
Position: defensive tackle
2020 eligibility: redshirt freshman
Recruiting info out of HS: 247 composite 3-star, No. 67 defensive tackle, Cornelius, N.C.
2019 recruitment: A three-star recruit out of North Carolina, Paez chose the Badgers over a handful of other power five programs. He held an impressive offer list that included Texas A&M, Kentucky, Louisville, Nebraska and NC State among others. After visiting Madison on June 15, 2018, Paez verbally committed shortly after on June 17, and became one of three defensive linemen (along with Rodas Johnson and Keeanu Benton) in the 2019 recruiting class.
Career statistics: redshirted in 2019, no games played
2019 statistics: redshirted in 2019, no games played
Player overview: After being beat out by fellow freshman Keeanu Benton at nose tackle last season, Paez redshirted and appeared in no games. Heading into 2020, the redshirt freshman has an opportunity to crack the two-deep at defensive end or potentially earn reps at nose tackle if either Bryson Williams or Benton are sidelined with injuries. With no spring practice to go off of, it remains to be seen whether defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield sees Paez’s future at nose tackle or defensive end but with his size and quickness, the Cornelius, N.C. native should be able to earn at least a back up role at either position in due time. Paez is just one of a slew of underclassmen looking to make a name for themselves this season in a suddenly deep position group.
Best case scenario for 2020: Paez uses an impressive fall camp to earn a spot in the defensive line rotation. With Williams and Benton entrenched as the top two options at nose tackle, Paez shifts to defensive end and sees playing time in 10 games backing up Isaiahh Loudermilk and Garrett Rand. In his redshirt freshman season, Paez develops into a nice, versatile depth piece for Breckterfield and positions himself for a bigger role on the defense line in 2021.
Likely role on team in 2020: Just two years ago, the defensive line was a thin position group but Breckterfield and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard have no shortage of bodies to work with heading into the 2020 season. Redshirt sophomores C.J. Goetz, Isaiah Mullens, and Boyd Dietzen, as well as fellow redshirt freshman Rodas Johnson will all be competing to earn a back up role along the defensive front. More than likely, Paez will play sparingly in 2020, but the Badgers have had some injury problems up front in recent seasons and he could be called upon to play if any of the three projected starters miss significant time.