With new coach Luke Fickell now at the helm of the Wisconsin football program, things are already looking different. That includes the roster. Things will look different not just in the future, but already in the Badgers’ 2022 bowl game. Wisconsin plays Oklahoma State Dec. 27 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
In the transfer portal era, when Luke Fickell was hired by Wisconsin, Badgers flooded to the portal or entered the NFL Draft. Either way the roster exodus was large.
Here are some of the moves:
- Star outside linebacker Nick Herbig announced he was entering the NFL Draft.
- Quarterback Graham Mertz entered the transfer portal
- All-Big Ten defensive tackle Keanu Benton and offensive linemen Joe Tippmann and Tyler Beach also decided to enter the NFL Draft and skip the Badgers’ bowl game.
While the Badgers are participating in bowl season, the team on the field is going to look very different.
New faces on offense
With Mertz gone, a new QB will lead the Badgers in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. The Badgers coaching staff has been mum on who is going to be the quarterback for the bowl game. In the depth chart released by the team it says Myles Burkett OR Chase Wolf.
— Raul Vazquez (@RaulV45) December 19, 2022
The likely option is freshman Burkett, however, the Badgers could give the senior Wolf the nod. Fickell said the primary focus is on winning the bowl game not getting a look at the future. However, fans would like to get a better look at Burkett. I wouldn’t be surprised if both QBs get snaps.
On the offensive line, center Joe Tippmann declared for the NFL Draft after starting at center most of the season and so did Tyler Beach. Michael Furtney announced he will return for a sixth season and will start the bowl game at left guard. Tanor Bortolin is scheduled to earn the starting nod at center in the bowl game.
Familiar faces on offense
There will be familiar faces on offense as well, including star-RB Braelon Allen. It looked and/or sounded like Allen was going to transfer at times. But Allen let everyone know he was staying in Madison. Wisconsin is getting back both Allen and Chez Mellusi. With both players now healthy, the expectation is that each player will receive carries on December 27 with Isaac Guerendo exploring his options in the transfer portal.
The wide receiver corps will also look familiar with Chimere Dike, Skyler Bell and Keontez Lewis all slated to play.
Looking forward to watching @myles_burkett in the Bowl Game. Even though he went to Franklin High School and I went to Oak Creek..I’ll let it slide. This bowl game could be extremely beneficial towards a lot of players that didn’t have the opportunity during the season.
— Travis Beckum (@TravisBeckum47) December 26, 2022
New faces on defense
As mentioned above, the Badgers’ top-two defenders in Herbig and Benton have both declared for the NFL Draft. With Benton off to play in the NFL, Gio Paez will get the start at nose tackle most likely. The backup to Benton all season, Paez is an experienced player.
Kaden Johnson is scheduled to earn the starting nod at outside linebacker for Herbig and freshman TJ Bollers could see meaningful snaps defensively.
Another new face fans may see get some snaps is walk-on cornerback Amaun Williams with Semar Melvin transferring to Michigan State.
Familiar faces on defense
Despite Herbig and Benton going pro, much of the defense will be names Badger fans recognize. The secondary will largely look the same including starting safety tandem Koma’i Latu and John Torchio bookending the secondary.
The Badgers’ leading tackler Maema Njongmeta will be patrolling his inside linebacker spot.
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) December 23, 2022
Exciting to watch a blend of new and familiar faces
While it is only the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, I am looking forward to some new faces get a chance to shine in the bowl season, particularly at quarterback. It will also be interesting to see the effort put forth. While it is only a Dec. 27th bowl game, I am intrigued to see the Badgers take the field for the first time after one of the most exciting hires in Wisconsin football history.
The #Badgers regular season ended just three weeks ago. With all the moves being made, this has to be one of the most exciting offseasons yet.
I truly can’t think of the last time I was this excited about UW football and we’re only getting started.
— Jake Maier (@JakeJMaier) December 17, 2022