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.
#Badgers looking to replace Chenal/Sanborn at ILB. First tandem today was Tatum Grass and Maema Njongmeta. Spencer Lytle/Jake Ratzlaff got a lot of work together as well. Short practice.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) March 29, 2022
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.
Notable injury news: OLB Nick Herbig didn't practice with a left arm injury. OLB Aaron Witt is still on a scooter with his right foot wrapped.— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) March 29, 2022
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 ($) if you want to read more and hear what Mellusi and Guerendo had to say.
#Badgers RB Chez Mellusi’s rehab (torn ACL) is going well. Has been running and says he feels “super good.” The goal is to be available for the season opener.— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) March 28, 2022
Also, look at Mellusi’s fucking traps! I hope he never wears a shirt with sleeves for the rest of his life!
Guerendo also suffered a “lower body injury” last season, which turned out to be a lisfranc injury in his left foot. The speedy back has had rough injury luck throughout his career in Madison and hopefully he’ll be available to return to practice before fall camp.
“I could definitely say I’ve had a very rough journey, but at the end of the day, staying positive so that I can reach my future goals is just really all I can do at this point,” Guerendo said.
#Badgers RB Isaac Guerendo asked about the injury he suffered before ILL game. Told reporters his foot was stepped on, which led to a lisfranc injury. Running 2-3x a week now. Timetable 100% working out w/team in May/summer, squeezing in indy RB periods by end of spring "ideal" pic.twitter.com/RumJ95vT7u— Jake Kocorowski (@JakeKoco) March 28, 2022
The new head of the recruiting department, Mickey Turner, also spoke to the media on Monday and discussed his transition from on-field coach to off-field recruiting director. He wouldn’t put an exact number on the amount of people he will have working with him, but according to Jesse Temple at The Athletic ($), “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.”
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.