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Despite limited action in spring ball, S Travian Blaylock could be Week 1 starter for Badgers

The Badgers have a key player returning from injury this season to fill a need.

Wisconsin Badgers safety Travian Blaylock had a tough 2022 season, tearing his ACL prior to the fall, which cost him the entirety of his redshirt senior season.

Blaylock was set to be an important contributor for the Badgers in the secondary, joining emerging candidate Hunter Wohler and transfer Kamo’i Latu to complement senior John Torchio in manning the backend.

However, the veteran safety is returning back to full strength, posting several videos of his elite speed, while also being a weekly feature on Strength & Conditioning coach Brady Collins’s “Need 4 Speed” drill winners.

Last month, safeties coach Colin Hitschler affirmed his expectations for Blaylock in 2023, believing that he’ll play an integral role this upcoming year.

“[Travian] Blaylock played a ton of ball here, he’s coming back from a new injury, but he’s, you know, from all reasons going into last season, he was going to be an integral part of the defense, and he’s going to be for us,” Hitschler said.

Speaking to reporters at Wisconsin’s Pro Day, safety John Torchio had high remarks for the new-look safety room, pointing to the depth at the position.

“I think they’ll be good. Tray [Blaylock], Hunter [Wohler], and Kamo’i [Latu], Preston [Zachman], and Owen [Arnett], I mean, all those guys: there’s like six or seven dudes who are ready to play in that defense room,” Torchio said.

With the success Wisconsin had incorporating three-safety looks last season, Torchio believes the coaching staff should continue that approach with Hunter Wohler, Blaylock, and Kamo’i Latu to begin next season.

“Honestly, I think you should try to get as many safeties on the field. Last year, we ran three [safety looks] a lot. It’s like three playmakers and it really worked, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Kamo’i, Tray, and Hunter stroll out Game 1 as a three-safety look,” Torchio said.

However, the sixth-year safety will be limited to begin spring ball, as head coach Luke Fickell confirmed that Blaylock will be in a non-contact uniform as he recovers from the torn ACL.

“[Travian] Blaylock for one, he’ll be a guy that will be out there in a red jersey, which means non-contact,” Fickell said on Monday.

While Fickell structures his training program to allow for players to recover more from injuries before re-joining contact, the Badgers don't plan to rush Blaylock back.

“We’re trying to remind him, remind everybody else, we want you to be able to practice, we want to be able to go full-go, but we don’t want you in the contact situations. We still want you in team [drills] so that you can learn and play beside the guys, but then we don’t want you going fitting up in there and putting yourself in some of those adverse situations,” Fickell said.

Still, with the success that the Badgers saw incorporating three-safety looks, as well as Blaylock’s speed, it wouldn't be any surprise if the sixth-year player trotted out as a starter come Week 1.