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Post spring practice thoughts: special teams

There are still a number of questions for the special teams unit.

Potential kick returner Devin Chandler (red jersey) at spring practice.

The Wisconsin Badgers football team ended their spring practice period on Friday. After missing out on spring practice last year, having an extra 15 sessions proved to be extremely useful for Paul Chryst’s group. The Badgers didn’t have a spring game, or anything like that, but we were still able to glean a decent amount of information from the open practices and media availability.

Here are some notes on the special teams unit now that spring practice is over.

While nothing is set in stone, here is our best guess at what the special teams depth chart will look like heading into fall camp.

Post Spring Depth Chart

Position Starter Backup
Position Starter Backup
Kicker Jack Van Dyke Collin Larsh
Punter Andy Vujnovich Conor Schlichting
Kick returner Devin Chandler Stephan Bracey
Punt returner Jack Dunn Dean Engram
KOS Jack Van Dyke Gavin Meyers
Long snapper Peter Bowden Duncan McKinley

Spring standouts

According to special teams coach Chris Haering, Stephan Bracey was impressive this spring while returning kicks. “He’s going to offer a lot of competition at both the punt return and the kick return position,” Haering noted.

During the practices that were open to the media, kicker Jack Van Dyke seemed to be the better of the two placekickers and made more of his field goal attempts. Van Dyke has the stronger leg, when compared to Collin Larsh, but needed to improve his accuracy.

Kicker Jack Van Dyke

With freshman long snapper Duncan McKinley sidelined with an injury, OLB Marty Strey filled in as the emergency snapper. You love to have guys on your team that are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.

Questions we still have

Who will be the primary returners for UW? Jack Dunn didn’t return as many punts last season because he was thrust into a larger role at wide receiver, but he has shown improvement throughout his career returning punts. Devin Chandler looked good in limited kick returning action last year as a freshman and could bring a different element to the return game if he moves there full time.

Will the punting game be more consistent this year? Andy Vujnovich showed great promise last year, his first with UW, but also never found consistency when punting. He’d boom one and then he’d shank one. Haering thinks Vujnovich is going to have a big year: “Andy has worked extremely hard in the offseason on the JUGS machine, getting a ton of snaps just thrown to him, to have the confidence in your hands to minimize any of the movement of the ball when you get to your dropping. You’re going to see a big difference from him.”