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Badgers C Jake Renfro fully cleared to return to practice

The Badgers have their top center back in practice.

The Wisconsin Badgers got some good news to begin fall camp, as center Jake Renfro was fully cleared to return from a stress fracture that he suffered during spring ball.

Renfro, the Badgers’ top center in the spring, said that the stress fracture occurred on the first day of the spring, with the pain worsening over the next two days, shutting him out of spring ball.

The offensive lineman shared that surgery wasn’t needed, but rest was imperative, as it was a struggle to place weight on his foot.

“No surgery. I just needed rest,” Renfro said. “I was in a boot and on crutches for a little bit. I was taking it easy and not putting all the weight on it.”

Offensive line coach shared that Renfro is slowly building up, reps-wise, after being fully cleared, getting better each day.

“I’ve seen Jake [Renfro] practice for a few days, and he hasn’t been 100 percent yet,” offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. shared, via Rivals’s Mike Hogan, when speaking to reporters Saturday. “He’s going 100 percent (right now), but he’s not getting 100 percent of the reps. He’s been getting better every day. The first day (Wednesday), it didn’t feel like his legs were under him. I am starting to see him move with more suddenness and more power. It’s been a while since he’s been out there.”

However, when Renfro was out during the spring, the Badgers tried out a few different players, and faced snapping issues, causing a little concern at first, although Tanor Bortolini settled into that role.

While Renfro was out, Bicknell’s mindset was to ensure the Badgers had ample depth at the position, focusing primarily on Tanor Bortolini and Joe Huber to gain reps at the position.

“You never want to be without a center,” Bicknell said. “I said, ‘OK, let’s pretend Jake is not there.’ Let’s get [Joe] Huber and Tanor [Bortolini] ready [at center], which we’ve done. Dylan [Barrett] has done a nice job there too.”

But, the focus is on Renfro, who is returning, and looking to play a full season after missing extended time last year with an injury.

“I am super excited,” he said. “It has been a long time for me. It wasn’t a fun year for me last year. Sitting on the sidelines, that’s not fun. I am itching to get back and hit somebody else instead of my own teammates.”

Renfro is currently working with the second-team offense, but will likely work his way back to the top unit when his reps are back at 100%.

Regardless, his availability is nothing but good news for the Badgers, who are looking to replace Joe Tippmann, a second-round pick to the New York Jets in the 2023 NFL Draft.