In just a few short months, the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers will be preparing for their season opener September 4 against Indiana under the lights of Camp Randall Stadium. Just like every year, there are position battles to look for as new players look for their opportunity to step up. Wisconsin has a good core of starters returning. In this article, we will look at three position groups that intrigue me most heading into this season.
The defense is in great shape entering fall camp. The defense does have to replace linebackers Zach Baun and Chris Orr who are now beginning their NFL careers. Baun and Orr were arguably the most consistent players on the defense and were clear leaders of their position group. Wisconsin has a ton of young talent at both inside and outside linebacker.
I look for sophomore Leo Chanel to grab the inside linebacker position. Chenal is a young player with a lot of potential and is an athletic freak of nature. Chenal appeared in 11 games last year and recorded 20 tackles and had one sack and recovered a fumble. The early name to look at to replace Baun on the outside could be junior Izayah Green-May. Green-May did have an early season injury last season but still appeared in 11 games and recorded one sack and five tackles. This is a group with loads of potential and will be an intriguing group this year.
Wisconisn loses starting wide receivers A.J. Taylor to graduation and Quintez Cephus who left early for the NFL draft. Taylor played the slot and outside and Cephus was a fantastic receiver on the outside and gave Jack Coan a deep ball threat last year. Wisconisn does return Danny Davis III and Kendrick Pryor. Both are incoming seniors who have seen a great deal of playing time over their careers. Because of their experience, these two will be the leaders of the receiving core this year. After Davis and Pryor is where the depth chart and playing time can be up for grab.
Early signs point to seniors like Adam Krumholz and Jack Dunn likely as the second team receivers to start fall camp. Dunn has hauled in six catches in his career so far but has served as the primary punt return specialist and has appeared in 35 career games. Krumholz has similar career stats as Dunn, appearing in 31 games and recording three catches. I am eager to see what Dunn and Krumholz will bring to the offense this year as upper classmen.
There is depth and talent at the running back position this year, but is important especially since this position group will need to fill in for Jonathan Taylor. I am intrigued to see how Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph incorporate this group as there are up to five potential players we could see in the backfield this year. Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek are almost guaranteed to get carries this year, but redshirt sophomore Issac Guerendo, redshirt freshman Julius Davis, and incoming true freshman Jalen Berger will all be looking for carries and playing time this year as well.
I am really excited to see how the coaching staff approaches this group. Jonathan Taylor was essentially the third string running back in his first college game three years ago and was the primary ball carrier after that. Could someone get the hot hand week one and run away with job like we saw three years ago? Time will tell and I can’t wait.