25 scholarship athletes and five walk-ons joined the Wisconsin football program on Wednesday. Since the dust has settled, how does the the Badgers' 2014 roster shape up?
Wide receiver and offensive line. Two of the three main focal points for this class were these position groups. Head coach Gary Andersen and his coaching staff added six new linemen and five wide receivers. Andersen mentioned he hoped to reach 16 scholarship linemen -- UW's currently at 14 -- and he wanted some players who were competitive and could stretch the field. The staff found both.
Defensive tackle. The loss of Sun Prairie's Craig Evans left Jeremy Patterson as the only defensive tackle commit, leaving the position four-deep with probable starter Warren Herring, Bryce Gilbert and Arthur Goldberg. Conor Sheehy has also been mentioned as having the frame at 6'4, 270 pounds, to potentially move to nose guard at some point.
Tight end. The Badgers are five-deep with Sam Arneson, Austin Maly, Austin Traylor, Eric Steffes and T.J. Watt, so they did not take a scholarship tight end after Gaelin Elmore committed to Minnesota. Zack Eckert was added as a walk-on.
Linebacker could also be aligned in this group, but the additions of three linebacker walk-ons, highlighted by Andersen's son, Chasen Andersen and the move of Joe Schobert to inside linebacker, added depth overall.
Quickest impact from new commits
Signing Day Recap
Signing Day Recap
Defensive back, wide receiver, and offensive line (oh, kicker, too). Five new defensive backs signed on and, with Austin Hudson enrolling early, he has a head start toward earning early playing time. Andersen reiterated Wednesday, "We weren't so much looking for corners or safeties, we were looking for young men that are highly competitive, that love the game of football, and that can run."
Also, don't be surprised if Hudson, Lubern Figaro, D'Cota Dixon, Derrick Tindal and Serge Trezy all earn chances to compete in camp.
Speaking of Love, the wide receiver position looks promising, as Andersen said the Badgers wanted numbers at that position as they continually modify the offense. Will Love, Jordan Frederick, Kenzel Doe, Alex Erickson and Rob Wheelright fight off the challenge of newcomers Dareian Watkins, Krenwick Sanders and others? That's one of the top upcoming position battles to watch.
Early enrollees Jaden Gault and Michael Deiter have the opportunity to receive playing time early, as mentioned by Andersen Wednesday. What was most surprising was hearing Deiter's name attached to the starting center position, at least for spring practice, as redshirt freshman Dan Voltz and junior Dallas Lewallen continue to battle injuries.
George Panos, based on Andersen's words Wednesday, appears to have the physical make-up to contribute early on, and based on conversations with Panos himself, he hopes to at least work into the two-deep this season.
The Badgers also found a kicker in Rafael Gaglianone from Sao Paolo, Brazil. Consdering the persistent inconsistency at the kicking position, look for Gaglianone to compete with Jack Russell and Andrew Endicott.
Running back and quarterback. The Badgers have seen three running backs contribute heavy presences throughout each of the past two seasons, the most recent seeing Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement rush for 3,600 yards last season. With White gone, though, who will fill the void? There's senior Jeff Lewis, or the two commits in Taiwan Deal and Caleb Kinlaw. The latter has the White-esque physique (5'9, 190 pounds), but we'll see which direction the running back position heads in once a new running backs coach is hired.
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, there is a log jam at the quarterback position. Andersen stated Joel Stave is the team's starting quarterback for now, but Tanner McEvoy is jumping back into the quarterback pool after his generally successful experiment at safety, and three other possible suitors -- Bart Houston, Connor Senger (as mentioned by Andersen Wednesday) and early enrollee D.J. Gillins -- are looking to prove their worth.
Who will rise above the competition to gain a starting spot? The battle begins March 7.
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