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Wisconsin football 2020 fall practice position preview: wide receiver

With four returning seniors, we take a look at what the receiver room might look like in 2020.

Michigan State v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Look, we don’t know if there is going to be college football this fall but until we know for sure that there isn’t, we are going to treat this off-season like any other and get you prepared for the 2020 season. Here are our thoughts on each position group before spring practice started and then, uh, got canceled to get you fully up to speed.

Since, to be quite honest, not a whole lot has changed since we wrote the spring previews we’ll be adding a couple of different elements to these previews. We’ll take our best guesses at how the depth chart for each position group will look this fall and we’ll also take a look at a potential breakout player for the 2021 season (in case you haven’t had your Graham Mertz fix in a few months).

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - Oregon v Wisconsin
Danny Davis will be one of the key receiving threats for the Badgers in 2020.
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Returning players:

  • Danny Davis III, wide receiver, 6-foot, 195 pounds, senior
  • Kendric Pryor, wide receiver, 5-foot-11, 188 pounds, redshirt senior
  • Adam Krumholz, wide receiver, 6-foot-1, 194 pounds, redshirt senior
  • Jack Dunn, wide receiver, 5-foot-7, 178 pounds, redshirt senior
  • Emmet Perry, wide receiver, 6-foot-2, 191 pounds, redshirt junior
  • A.J. Abbott, wide receiver, 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, redshirt sophomore
  • Taj Mustapha, wide receiver, 6-foot, 192 pounds, redshirt sophomore
  • Mike Gregoire, wide receiver, 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, redshirt sophomore
  • Jordan DiBenedetto, wide receiver, 6-foot, 191 pounds, redshirt freshman
  • Stephan Bracey, wide receiver, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, redshirt freshman
  • Cam Phillips, wide receiver, 6-foot, 171 pounds, redshirt freshman
  • Cooper Nelson, wide receiver, 6-foot-4, 191 pounds, redshirt freshman

Departing players:

  • Quintez Cephus, wide receiver, 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, NFL Draft
  • A.J. Taylor, wide receiver, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, graduated
  • Aron Cruickshank, wide receiver, 5-foot-9, 161 pounds, transferred to Rutgers
  • Cade Green, wide receiver, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, medically retired

Incoming players:

  • Chimere Dike, wide receiver, 6-foot-1, 186 pounds, freshman, early enrollee
  • Devin Chandler, wide receiver, 6-foot, 171 pounds, freshman
  • Isaac Smith, wide receiver, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, freshman

Projected WR Depth Chart

Role Player Position Year Games played
Role Player Position Year Games played
Starter Danny Davis WR (X or Y) Senior 37 games played, 13 games started
Starter Kendric Pryor WR (Y or Slot) Redshirt senior 37 games played, 21 games started
Backup Adam Krumholz WR (X or Y) Redshirt senior 31 games played
Backup Jack Dunn WR (slot) Redshirt senior 35 games played
Backup AJ Abbott WR (X or Y) Redshirt sophomore Eight games played

Position breakdown and depth chart: While the losses of Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor will be felt, the Badgers are uniquely positioned with four returning seniors to help soften that blow. Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor have both been prominent contributors in the passing game the past three seasons, and they will likely be the primary targets in 2020.

Davis made waves in his first two seasons with over 400 receiving yards and five touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, but he was utilized far less last year with the reemergence of Cephus. Davis has tremendous hands and is able to make contested catches in traffic, something that should allow him to be a downfield weapon this season.

His fellow starter, Pryor is one of the fastest players on the entire team. He has been a playmaker as a receiving threat, but also as a rusher in jet-sweeps and end-arounds. He should see plenty of time in the slot this season, a space occupied by Taylor for most of the past two seasons. He and Davis should give Jack Coan — or whoever winds up at quarterback — a solid duo to turn to.

Behind those two seniors, Jack Dunn and Adam Krumholz should see more playing time during their fifth season in Madison. Both players have flashed in practices open to the media, and have been very active in special teams the past few seasons on campus. Dunn and Krumholz are very different in terms of size, but are each strong run blockers in their own right. While they do not bring the same level of athleticism as Davis and Pryor, they are quality players that have a wealth of experience in the program.

After the four seniors are a hodgepodge of younger options that need to step up. Paul Chryst referenced back in June that he is looking for the “next ups” at wide receiver, and that was specifically aimed to the young contingent at the position. Based on fall camp last year and wide-out coach Alvis Whitted’s recent remarks on Wisconsin’s Behind The Badgers Podcast, A.J. Abbott and Chimere Dike appears to have stood out early.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Wisconsin at Illinois
Is AJ Abbott the “next up” that Paul Chryst is looking for at wide receiver?
Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Abbott is a longer receiving target that has shown flashes in practice, but has needed to be more consistent to garner playing time. Last year he saw reps in special teams, and he has the type of frame and athleticism to compete for a larger role in 2020.

True freshman Dike did not have the opportunity to impress in spring camp after enrolling early that he would have liked, but the multi-sport athlete out of the Waukesha definitely has the makings of a young player that could work his way into the rotation.

Emmet Perry is now entering his redshirt junior year, and it is make or break territory for him at this juncture. Taj Mustapha, like Abbott, is also a redshirt sophomore. The pair of sophomores entered in the same class, and played at the same high school senior year. Mustapha had a really strong spring in 2018 after enrolling early prior to his freshman season, but opted to redshirt despite playing in four games and catching a touchdown his first season on campus. He has good ball skills, and is able to create separation. Like Abbott, he will also need to be more consistent to break into playing time.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 New Mexico at Wisconsin
Mustapha catches a touchdown during his freshman season.
Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stephan Bracey drew rave reviews around the Rose Bowl for his work on scout team and for his quickness, but he is likely the third or fourth option in the slot currently with his 5-foot-10 frame. He could use special teams as a springboard for a larger role in 2021.

Beyond the group covered above, there is a bevy of walk-ons that could help the team out down the line, and a pair of true freshman in Isaac Smith and Devin Chandler that will try to make inroads quickly. Both freshman are potential redshirt candidates, but each player has traits that could make them viable candidates if they are able to make plays early in camp.

Regardless of which players out of the top four breakout, the Badgers will need to get some of their younger wide receivers involved this year in anticipation for 2021 when the four seniors are gone.

Potential breakout player for 2021: As previously noted, 2021 will be a wide open competition for reps with four seniors departing after this season. While there are a multitude of different options to choose from, Dike is the player that comes to mind here. He is one of the best receivers to come out of the state since Nick Toon, and he has the blend of size at 6-foot-1, and speed to be a big-time player for the Badgers in the future. He is the likeliest true freshman to see the field of the group this year, and that makes him a prime candidate to make a big move during his second season on campus with a larger role up for grabs.