Last football offseason we went through every single player on the Wisconsin Badgers roster. While it was certainly interesting to dig into some of the lesser known players, there were a lot of players where, well to put it politely there just wasn’t a lot to say about every player on the team.
This offseason we decided to go in a bit of a different direction and now each writer (who wanted to participate) has picked one player that they think is going to breakout this year in Madison. We are using “breakout” in the broadest sense so that this isn’t all guys buried on the depth chart. To us, “breakout” means taking the next step in your career and reaching the next level.
You’ll find many names you are already familiar with, and so without further ado, let’s get into our next one.
Player name: Chimere Dike
Position: wide receiver
Year: sophomore (we use the official listing from UWBadgers.com’s roster which doesn’t take into account the COVID year until the player takes it)
2020 stats: 12 receptions, 189 yards, one touchdown
2021 breakout reasons: It goes without saying that Chimere Dike had an unconventional freshman season. Tabbed by many as a potential breakout at the start of the 2020 season, the Waukesha native made waves by finding himself third on the wide receiver depth chart for the first game of the season despite having never played a collegiate snap. Such a standing didn’t end up meaning much, as incumbent wideouts one and two, Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor, dominated most of the targets with tight end Jake Ferguson. However the injuries would soon claim both Davis and Pryor, and by the fourth game of 2020 Dike had been thrust into the WR1 role for the remainder of the season.
Unsurprisingly, the young receiver didn’t immediately excel in his newfound job of defeating the Big Ten’s top corners every week. He didn’t record more than three catches in any game, and in only once eclipsed 50 yards. But there were flashes of the traits that make Wisconsin coaches believe he can be an impact player in the near future. He’s explosive- his lone touchdown came on a long ball where he shook off a tackle before heading to the end zone- and on more than a few occasions it appeared he had a step on a defender but the throw missed him.
He can clearly run a good route, as shown by BadgersWire’s Ben Kenney in this film review, and has legitimate downfield potential. Even as he worked through some freshman consistency struggles his potential as a WR1 was more than clear.
#Badgers practice done. Chimere Dike had a big day, in my opinion. Hauled in several TDs in red zone work, including some a couple impressive catches— Jake Kocorowski (@JakeKoco) April 17, 2021
What excites me most about Dike is how versatile he can be. The Badgers used him as a rusher on multiple occasions, and he notched 48 yards on just six attempts. His high school film indicates a comfort with lining up in the backfield, but even his speed on end-arounds is a weapon that might add another dimension to the Wisconsin option in both the immediate and near future. With Paul Chryst back in control of play calling, I’m excited to see what further steps forward Dike will take in 2021.
2021 season prediction: I don’t think he’ll be breaking any records, winning any awards, or even challenge for the Badgers top receiver spot barring injury, but I expect a nice sophomore step forward from Dike. I think 50 catches is a realistic target, and 600 yards would be a solid progression from his freshman year numbers as well. Add a couple touchdowns and a few reps as a rusher for good measure and I think everyone will be pretty happy with such a hypothetical season.