Whether Lee Evans comes back or not, the Badgers are going to have one of the top receiving corps in the Big Ten next season. If Evans returns, this might be the best WR unit in the history of the program. After everything Evans has been through, and the attitude that he's displayed through all of the adversity, everyone is pulling hard for Evans to make a full recovery because nobody deserves it more.
It's hard to judge who the Badgers' No. 1 receiver would be if Evans doesn't return at 100 percent. There are a handful of guys fully capable of stepping into a feature-receiver role next season. This is the year when the fact many young players were forced into action early in their careers could pay major dividends, with a wealth of experience returning.
- Brandon Williams is one player everyone will be keeping their eyes on this year. Williams is an absolutely explosive player that makes plays every single practice. He had 663 yards receiving last year as a true freshman, but he's more than capable of being a 1,000-yard receiver this season. The only thing that would keep him under that mark is an injury or the fact that Jim Sorgi has so many options in the passing game. But judging from spring football, Williams will get his fair share of opportunities, and when he has the football in his hands, he's a threat to take it to the house every single time.
- Darrin Charles is another player that, when healthy, has the potential to be a top receiver. He suffered through a string of bad luck with injuries that began with the first practice of fall camp last season. But his performance in the Alamo Bowl was a springboard into a year when he could be a breakout performer. At nearly 6-7 and close to 210 pounds, Charles is a target that's hard to miss. His durability seems to have improved with the added weight, as he no longer looks like the string bean he was coming out of high school. This could be Charles' year.
- It's a real shame that nobody seems to mention Jonathan Orr's name without following it immediately with a discussion of his big drops in the Alamo Bowl. That's ludicrous, considering the fact that Orr ranks second in the history of the Big Ten for receiving yards as a freshman, as he led the Badgers last year with 842 yards. The high-profile drops were upsetting, but they should have been expected for a freshman wide receiver. Orr has used the drops as fuel for his fire in the offseason, and he has come into the spring with a purpose. He has made a string of nice catches in spring football, and he's been difficult to defend for the UW secondary.
- On a team loaded with young talent at the receiver position, one old man has quietly snuck into the starting rotation at the position. Byron Brown, who somehow hasn't run out of eligibility yet, is back and has looked better than ever this spring. There is no substitute for experience, and Brown has conducted himself as a crafty veteran over the last month of practice. He could be a guy that makes big catches and gives the offense a consistent performer, similar to David Braun's role last year.
- If it weren't for the loaded receiving corps, Brandon White would be a player we should all watch for this season. The 6-3, 187-pound sophomore played all 14 games last season, but had just two catches for seven yards. With Braun the only graduate from last year's WR corps, there is little room for White to step into a bigger role. But in Evans' absence, White has gotten a ton of reps with the No. 1 and 2 offenses this spring, and he has made a handful of impressive catches. He is a solid option that might be overlooked because of the other talent, but in an offense that will often use three or four wide-receiver sets, White will be a factor.
- Enrique Cook, Jeff Holzbauer and Zach Hampton are among the regular scout team performers that under different circumstances, could fight for playing time. But with the logjam this year, don't expect to see any of these guys on the field in more than a special teams capacity.
Mid-Spring Thoughts: Wide Receivers
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