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What to make of the Badgers RB room this season

The running back room will have a similar taste in 2023.

The Wisconsin Badgers underwent significant change across the board this offseason, revamping their coaching staff and attracting a number of transfers at key positions to bolster the roster ahead of the 2023 season.

However, one room with some consistency is the running backs, as the Badgers return Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi to the fold.

The lone changes to the room? The losses of Isaac Guerendo, who transferred to Louisville, and reserve Julius Davis, who transferred to Montana State.

What should we expect from the Badgers’ running back room in 2023?

Starter: Braelon Allen

It’s obvious. The Badgers’ starter is Braelon Allen, who has been a face of the team since he came into the scene as a true freshman in 2021.

Allen’s tape in 2021 looked fresh, earning him NFL Draft recognition, but the running back took a step back in 2022, with injuries hampering his development.

The test for Allen comes down to how well he can be a system player: can he look to be a strong, downhill runner that takes what the defense gives him, or will he continue looking for home-run-esque plays that will hurt his draft stock?

Allen’s gotten stronger and faster, he shared in the spring, ahead of the upcoming season, hopefully helping him against recurring injuries.

But, his volume shouldn’t take much of a hit with the new-look Phil Longo offense, paving the path for a third consecutive 1,000-yard season in what seems to be his final year ahead of a move to the NFL.

Backup: Chez Mellusi

Chez Mellusi is one of the better backup running backs in college football.

He could easily start for a handful of solid programs across the NCAA, but has remained at Wisconsin after a transfer from Clemson.

Mellusi earned a good amount of volume in 2021, rushing for 815 yards on 173 carries before seeing a dip in 2022, where he only saw 113 carries, rushing for 473 yards in the process.

Mellusi’s traits aren’t overwhelming, but he provides consistency and production, something the Badgers value in a backup to Allen.

With speed threat Isaac Guerendo gone, Mellusi has the firm threshold on the No. 2 spot, and should be primed for a solid season, with Longo’s offense having shown an ability to foster volume for two capable backs in the past.

Depth: Jackson Acker, Cade Yacamelli, Nate White

The main competition in the room comes between Acker and Yacamelli, who are vying for the third spot behind Allen and Mellusi.

Acker, a 6’1, 235-pound back, converted from fullback to running back, and seems to be well-liked by the coaching staff.

Yacamelli, on the other hand, has a different skillset, playing with a more elusive style and arguably being the best receiver of the group.

It seems the Badgers could utilize one or the other based on situation, with Acker primed for more goal-line and short-distance situations, while Yacamelli could function more as a third-down back.

Nate White’s role will be intriguing to monitor, as it doesn’t seem like the true freshman will see much time, given the depth and the inexperience.

However, White has good track speed, a unique trait for the Badgers’ room, which could propel the coaching staff to give him some looks, especially in non-conference games.

Walk-ons Grover Bortolotti and Zach Gloudeman round out the running back room.