It was a busy day at Camp Randall Stadium on Thursday as Wisconsin football players and coaches gathered to partake in 2021 Wisconsin Media Day. There was a lot said about the 2021 season from players and coaches. We collected some audio which we’ll have in our podcast episode (that releases later today aka Friday), but if you are looking for a recap in writing format we’ve got that for you too!
Media Day started with head coach Paul Chryst taking the mic. Chryst talked for a half-hour which is about 25 minutes more than what he probably preferred. Regardless, he hit on a lot of different topics. Many we’re his classic cliches, but a main focal point was on name, image and likeness (NIL).
Chryst on NIL: "If you want name, image and likeness to work for you, be on a good team, and be a good contributor on a good team." #BadgerMediaDay @BadgerBeat pic.twitter.com/JN4ZRfP6za— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) August 5, 2021
After Chryst, Jim Leonhard was the main focus as he comes in off of another strong year as defensive coordinator. Leonhard talked a lot about getting his unit to be more physical, and cause more havoc in 2021. Another topic that Leonhard touched on was him staying in Madison after multiple pursuits from other teams, including the Green Bay Packers. Leonhard made it clear that he stayed in Madison because the city meant a lot to him, and he’s got unfinished business he needs to take care of here.
“Madison means a lot. Unfinished business. I want us to accomplish things that haven’t been done here in a long time.” - Leonhard, on returning despite other job opportunities— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) August 5, 2021
After Leonhard spoke we got a chance to hear from each position coach about their respective groups. One coach that offered a lot about his group was running back coach Gary Brown. Brown mentioned he has a young group, but one that is still very talented.
“We have a very young group, that is very talented. This Fall is very important to them. Even Jalen, what did he have 60 carries? That’s not a lot of carries. I’m excited for him.” - Brown, discussing the running back room— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) August 5, 2021
In addition to the coaches speaking, we had various players that came to media day to talk about the upcoming season including quarterback Graham Mertz. Mertz was asked a lot about his progress with NIL, and he mentioned that it’s an opportunity but one that would not take away from what was important, as he then nodded to the field and his teammates.
Asked #Badgers QB Graham Mertz about his off-season and being at the forefront of the new NLI rules. Nice follow-up by @JimPolzinWSJ on if it’s a distraction. pic.twitter.com/NCEDMJMkpC— Alex Strouf (@alex_strouf) August 5, 2021
Other players like wideout Danny Davis III and Kendric Pryor also talked to the media. Last year Wisconsin’s offense struggled at times, partially because they were without their two top targets for most of the season. Now, with those two back and healthy, they’re looking to contribute at a high level. He says don’t write them off just yet.
“We’re healthy, but we’re also hungry. People forget what we can do.” -Danny Davis III discussing 2021— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) August 5, 2021
Overall, it was good to see and hear from both the players and the coaches. It’s clear that the coaches have some key things they are looking for, but they expect improvement from what things were in a weird 2020 year. The players are confident in what they can do in 2021, and they all shared the same excitement in getting back to Camp Randall to play in front of 80,000 Badger fans once again. Football season is here folks, buckle up!