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Wisconsin football: spring practice notes

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The Badgers had their first practice open to the media on Tuesday. What did we learn?

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Football Training
Not sure if this is actual a picture from this week or not.
Photo by Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers football team has now completed four full spring practices. On Tuesday morning, their practice was open to the media for the first time and boy oh boy did we learn, well, probably nothing...but maybe something!

Owen already discussed how the offensive line looked, so we won’t dive into that at all, but there were some other lineup things to note. But first, look at this dime from Graham Mertz to Keontez Lewis! Spring is the perfect time to completely and totally buy into the hype of every update and foresee a future where Paul Chryst is hoisting the Big Ten championship trophy above his head in December.

This pass was nice and good and Lewis appears like he could bring some interesting things to the table, but let’s not get the Heisman Hype Train rolling yet. On the other hand, it is also ok to celebrate these nice and good plays without saying “yeah, well, the pass rush wasn’t real and Mertz still sucks.” Let’s enjoy cool 50-yard touchdown bombs for what they are: freaking sweet.

UW’s linebacker unit will look very different when they line up for their first game this year. Both starting inside linebackers and a starting outside linebacker need to be replaced. Tatum Grass and Maema Njongmeta were the first pairing up at ILB while newly converted ILB Spencer Lytle and redshirt freshman Jake Ratzlaff were second in line.

At OLB, Nick Herbig is the certain starter on one side but he did not practice on Tuesday due to an undisclosed injury. Fellow OLB Aaron Witt also did not practice and wasn’t able to move around without the help of a scooter. Witt missed all of last season with a right leg injury and doesn’t appear close to being back on the field. As a true freshman, he flashed in five games, especially the Duke’s Mayo Bowl where he recorded a sack and a forced fumble. He would be a valuable rotation piece for Jim Leonhard’s unit so hopefully he can get healthy before fall camp.

Coming off of a torn ACL it is nice to see true freshman Curt Neal moving around on the practice field. Neal is the future at nose tackle for the Badgers and having him on campus early could really kickstart his development to eventually take over for Keeanu Benton.

The running backs spoke to the media on Monday and we got some injury updates on Chez Mellusi and Isaac Guerendo. We already knew that these two, and Brady Schipper, wouldn’t be doing “much” in spring practice, according to Paul Chryst, but now we have had a bit more light shed on their injury situations.

Mellusi said he tore his ACL in last season’s game against Rutgers but also that he suffered a hamstring injury at the end of fall camp last year. Our pal Jake has a great writeup on what the running backs had to say over at Badger Blitz ($) if you want to read more and hear what Mellusi and Guerendo had to say.

Also, look at Mellusi’s fucking traps! I hope he never wears a shirt with sleeves for the rest of his life!

Guerendo also suffered a “lower body injury” last season, which turned out to be a lisfranc injury in his left foot. The speedy back has had rough injury luck throughout his career in Madison and hopefully he’ll be available to return to practice before fall camp.

“I could definitely say I’ve had a very rough journey, but at the end of the day, staying positive so that I can reach my future goals is just really all I can do at this point,” Guerendo said.

The new head of the recruiting department, Mickey Turner, also spoke to the media on Monday and discussed his transition from on-field coach to off-field recruiting director. He wouldn’t put an exact number on the amount of people he will have working with him, but according to Jesse Temple at The Athletic ($), “Wisconsin is expected to have, at minimum, three staffers overseeing high school recruits, one handling the transfer portal, one in charge of communications and dedicated graphic design and video positions as well.”

Bobby Engram also talked to the media on Monday as did Jim Leonhard.

Assistant coach Ross Kolodziej and defensive linemen Keeanu Benton, Rodas Johnson, Isaiah Mullens and James Thompson Jr. will be available for interviews Wednesday morning and the Badgers will be back on practice field bright and early on Thursday morning.