The Wisconsin Badgers got some good news this offseason when running back Chez Mellusi announced his intentions to return for a sixth season, providing them a key piece to lead the charge in 2024.
With Braelon Allen departing, Mellusi is expected to be the lead back in 2024, with a plethora of intriguing backups behind him in a depth-heavy room for the Badgers.
Some of that depth will see increased reps this spring, however, as head coach Luke Fickell revealed that Mellusi will not have a big role, if at all during spring ball, as he continues to recover from a fractured fibula.
“I think that spring ball is going to be really unique. Now, obviously, Chez is back and we know what Chez can do. He won’t get a big load, if any load in the spring, to be honest with you,” Fickell shared on the Wilde & Tausch show Wednesday.
“So we’ll know a bit more of the young guys. And I mean that from a transfer in Tawee [Walker] and even [freshman] Gideon [Ituka], who’s in here, along with the guys that have been here with Jackson [Acker] and Cade [Yacamelli]. But, I think that that one is going to really take a lot longer to figure out.
The Badgers currently have eight projected scholarship running backs: Mellusi, Walker, Acker, Yacamelli, redshirt freshman Nate White, and true freshmen Darrion Dupree, Dilin Jones, and Ituka.
That will lead to a number of questions to answer about the depth in the room this offseason and who will come out as key pieces for the upcoming season.
“Okay, what’s the kind of the order here? How do these guys go about it? Can you play? Are there two? Are there three? Right. And the two freshmen [Darrion Dupree and Dilin Jones] that are actually coming in that won’t be here until the summer are going to, in my mind, play a role in that,” Fickell said.
“So that’s a little bit more like, ‘okay, coach Spaldo (running backs coach Devon Spalding), we’ve got some work to do here and that’s going to be a little bit more of a longer process to figure that out before game one.’”
The first part of the question will see an answer soon, however, as Acker, Yacamelli, Walker, Ituka, and White should all be a part of the rotation in the spring, which should separate some from the others heading into the summer.