We’re here today to talk about the best athletes on the Wisconsin Badgers football team. No, not Braelon Allen. No, not Nick Herbig. No, not Graham Mertz. No, no—- you know what? Let’s just get into it.
The 2022 Wisconsin Badgers offensive line, I believe, is going to look a bit different to the trained eye this season. With old (yet new) offensive line coach Bob Bostad back at the helm of the most important position group in the program, Wisconsin is going to be bigger and more physical up front. That’s good.
Now, this isn’t a bash-fest on Joe Rudolph, who I believe did a fine job as the unit’s coach from 2015-2021. This is simply going to be a bit of a philosophical change under Bostad’s watch.
This is no breaking news, but when Bostad was the o-line coach from 2008-2011, Wisconsin developed a ton of pro talent at the position and produced multiple high draft picks, notably: Gabe Carimi, Kevin Zeitler, Peter Konz, Travis Frederick, Rick Wagner, John Moffitt, Ryan Groy and others.
Keeping that in mind, I don’t think those immediate results can be expected, but you’d be a bit foolish to not be unabashedly optimistic for the position’s future with Bostad at the head of the table moving forward. Let’s take a look back at 2021 and get a little reminder of what the group looked like:
LT: Tyler Beach, Logan Brown
Josh Seltzner, Cormac Sampson
C: Joe Tippmann,
RG: Jack Nelson, Michael Furtney
Now, I expect the unit to look a bit different in 2022. I’d heard a little birdie tell me that Tyler Beach could be expected to move inside to guard, and we’ve already seen that during spring practice. With the departures of Josh Seltzner and Logan Bruss to the NFL and Kayden Lyles to Florida State, there are certainly some openings along the offensive line.
Using our context clues and what we’ve already seen, a potential offensive line could look something like this:
LT: Jack Nelson
LG: Tyler Beach
C: Joe Tippmann
RG: Michael Furtney
RT: Logan Brown
If I was a betting man, I’d personally pencil in the LT-C. Nelson is likely the Badgers’ best offensive lineman already, and he’s probably going to be the left tackle. Beach at left guard makes sense, he’s better suited inside as a guard, and as a sixth-year senior, has seen about everything. Tippmann is also a stud, a rising star at the center position, and looks to be a future pro. However, once we get to the right side of the line...that’s where the speculation and competition start.
Let’s take a look at the last two spots, and the guys who could potentially find their way onto the field at those spots:
- Michael Furtney - RS SR - Furtney has waited his turn behind talented linemen before him, and this could be his opportunity. Another Michigan native, David Moorman, waited until his final season in Madison before earning a starting spot, and had a great senior year that ended in a Rose Bowl berth.
- Tanor Bortolini - RS SO - Bortolini saw time at center as a true freshman in 2020, and saw some legitimate time at right tackle in 2021 as well. He could very well earn the right tackle job again in 2022, but I also wouldn’t count him out at guard.
- Cormac Sampson - RS SR - Sampson has been the ultimate team player for the Badgers, starting his career at defensive end before moving to offense as a tight end, then tackle, then center, while occasionally masquerading as a jumbo tight end. Sampson has been a solid utility man for UW. I’d imagine Bostad wants someone bigger and more physical at guard, as Sampson was listed at 305 last year, the heaviest he’s ever been. (Editor’s note: Sampson’s 2022 spring weight is down to 295.) However, Sampson could very well earn the job.
- Logan Brown - RS JR - Brown had a ton of pomp and ballyhoo when he committed to Wisconsin as the second-highest rated recruit in school history. Brown has had an injury plagued career thus far, but hopefully this will be his chance to solidify a spot in the lineup. I am curious to see how he does at right tackle, given his pretty damaged right shoulder, but that’s what spring ball is for!
- Trey Wedig - RS SO - I’m just some idiot, but I assume Bostad is going to be looking for bigger, longer, athletic players at tackle. Wedig, is as big and as long as any tackle on the roster, and has been mentioned in the past as being on the precipice of playing time.
- Tanor Bortolini - see above
- Nolan Rucci/Riley Mahlman - both of the redshirt freshman look to be the tackles of the future, but with some perceived uncertainly revolving around right tackle, both could be looked at as potential options.
From Tuesday’s Open Practice:
Tippmann was out with an undisclosed injury, but was in attendance at practice. When healthy, he’s the starting center.
First-team OL, LT to RT: Nelson, Beach, Bortolini, Furtney, Brown— Jake Kocorowski (@JakeKoco) March 29, 2022