Analyzing the No.2 Wide Receivers

Wisconsin fans know that Jared Abbrederis is going to be one starting wide receiver, but who is going to line up along with him? Badger Nation talks with Kenzel Doe, Jordan Fredrick, Manasseh Garner, Reggie Love and others and analyze what they bring to the table.

MADISON - Depending on the time of day, wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni will vary his answer as to who is the number two wide receiver opposite junior Jared Abbrederis.

"One day one will step out and the next day another guy will," said Azzanni. "There is some talent there, but we're just up and down right now."

At the ‘Z' position, redshirt freshman Jordan Fredrick, who Azzanni calls one of his hardest workers, has worked with the first-team offense over the past week, but players like Kenzel Doe, Jeff Duckworth, Chase Hammond, Manasseh Garner and Reggie Love have flashed during camp and warrant consideration.

The Badgers also have the option of sophomore Isaiah Williams or redshirt freshman A.J. Jordan, both of whom bring something unique to the table and could be listed when the Badgers release their two-deep depth chart for the season opener September 1 against Northern Iowa as soon as today. One player that likely won't be in the mix this season is sophomore Marquis Mason, as head coach Bret Bielema said after Saturday's scrimmage that Mason is not, ‘ready to play at this level, in any way, right now.'

It's a group of playing that don't have much game experience, but a lot of raw, unproven talent that could help the Badgers. Badger Nation looks at some of the players.

Kenzel Doe (5-8, 170 pounds)

Recruited as a return specialist, Doe looks as that label as a positive, but not the only label he wants to sport during his tenure at Wisconsin.

"I want to be known as more than just a specialist," said Doe. "I want to be known as a receiver."

Playing in nine games and one of three true freshmen to letter last season, Doe got his first tastes of playing as a kick and punt return and a receiver, which was why he spent his whole summer finding balance to his game.

"This whole summer when we did one-on-one drills against the DBs, I just gave it everything I got," said Doe. "I want to get on the field as a receiver, so I've been working hard on my skills. I want to prove myself and the return game just adds on to being a receiver. I am going to try to play as tall as I can."

The only thing Doe hasn't grown in over the past year is height, which is not necessarily a bad thing. While he may not have the height like some of his competitors, Doe feels the combination of his speed and getting a feel for game speed last season will help make a bigger contribution this season.

"It was a positive not to redshirt because I have three years left and have time to grow," said Doe. "I got a little bit of experience and I am way more confident than I was last year. I know the plays. We put in new plays with new coaches, but everybody is doing a good job working together. I feel like I am way more comfortable than I was last year."

Jordan Fredrick (6-3, 220 pounds)

From the minute he stepped on campus last fall, teammates and coaches could tell that Fredrick was a worker. Battling for one of the final receiver spots deep into camp, Fredrick ended up redshirting when he hurt his shoulder and realized he wasn't quite ready to contribute.

"At the time it was tough because everybody likes to play and nobody likes to sit out," said Fredrick. "After talking to guys on the team, especially guys who have redshirted who are big names now, it helped a lot to have that perspective. Now I am in the great position and it was a good decision."

Since making the decision to redshirt, Fredrick feels his strength has increased and his speed has gotten quicker, especially since it wasn't decided until the end of last summer that he would be playing receiver instead of linebacker. He's also been pushed by Azzanni, who has rewarded him by putting him on the first-team offense.

"He's big on technique and teaching me the game," Fredrick said of Azzanni. "Since he got here, my football IQ has soared. My technique and understanding has helped a ton."

Catching 113 passes for 1,216 yards and 15 touchdowns over his career at Madison Memorial High, Fredrick has shown over the second week of camp that he hasn't lost a step.

"I want to take advantage of the opportunity that I've got," said Fredrick. "I have to catch the ball when I need to, block downfield and give effort on everything. Jared Abbrederis gives effort on every play and has that starting spot locked up. Whoever steps in that number two spot has to match that effort. I am young and I am learning every day."

Manasseh Garner (6-2, 212 pounds)

Although he is entering his third season at Wisconsin, Garner has barely had time to get his feet wet at wide receiver. A multi-talented high school athlete in Pittsburgh, Garner was initially put as a rush defensive end by the coaching staff in 2010. Since then, he's played at tight end, wide receiver and on special teams, not to mention suffering from a sports hernia that knocked him out of last year's fall camp and made it hard for him to play catch up.

"It's been a mental challenge going from wide receiver to defensive end, then back to wide out, then to H-back and then back to wide receiver," said Garner with a smile. "It made me a stronger player and had me push more. Getting injuries on top of that, I had to preserve through the tough times."

The hernia problem started nagging him during 2011 spring practices and never really healed until after the season; a disappointing one by Garner's standards since he only made two catches for 45 yards late in meaningless ball games. Bielema has called Garner a ‘Greek god' and that he has ‘all the bumps in the right places,' but nagging injuries have limited him to record stats in only six of 20 career games played.

"For me, I had to see what I could do to learn around my injury," said Garner. "It was a challenge and I had to try to find a way to maneuver around the situation I was in."

With time to heal and a strong summer conditioning program, Garner says he's been ‘locked in' to what Azzanni and Bielema have been preaching, which includes aggressiveness and consistency at the position. Like many wide receivers, Garner has flashed by making some strong catches, only to follow that with a drop or a slip that causes an incompletion.

"You hope someday it jumps into him, clicks into him," Bielema said of Garner. "He's gifted. He's athletic (but) probably not the hardest going all the time. That's what he's got to push himself through."

"I want to continually be a better play than I was the day before," Garner added. "In the spring, I wasn't able to lift or run the way I wanted to. This summer I took advantage by training a little extra and took a lot of advice from my dad. I feel like I am in a good spot with learning the offense.

"At this point, I am fighting to be a starter. As a junior, it's time to push more and contribute more, so I am fighting every day."

Reggie Love (6-3, 206 pounds)

With a little over a year of organized football experience, many thought Love would need a year or two to adjust to the rigors and demands of Division 1, BCS-conference football. Through two weeks of fall camp, Love is well ahead of the curve.

Named all-state and team MVP as a senior after catching 38 passes for 876 yards and 13 touchdowns, Love has been thrown right into the mix at wide receiver and surprisingly out performed some of the older players at his position.

"I have developed a good relationship with the quarterbacks, so I feel comfortable working with these guys" said Love. "I'm trying to show coaches they can count on me from day one."

Recruited by defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, Love visited Wisconsin officially during last year's Purdue game and committed that weekend over offers from Boston College, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee and UCF. Once Azzanni was hired to replace DelVaughn Alexander, one of his first tasks was to message Love on Facebook and have a phone conversation.

It was from that point that Love knew he was in good hands at Wisconsin.

"I knew that this relationship was going to be great," said Love, the only scholarship receiver in the 2012 recruiting class. "He was telling me that he liked my game and he could mold me into a great receiver. If I was fully committed to him, he would be fully committed to me."

That's been Love's approach since he stepped foot on campus during the summer. With Azzanni making sure Love is mastering his playbook, the true freshman claims to know approximately 85 percent of the playbook; a level of comfort that has allowed him to work on fine tuning his technique.

A long-time basketball player, Love uses his frame and his length to his advantage on the field. Having gotten plenty of reps with the second-team offense during the second week of fall camp, Love was quick on his pivots and used his length to haul in passes.

"I've only played a year and a half of football, so there's a lot I need to learn," said Love. "Learning the plays is something I have committed myself to do in all my spare time. Watching film and watching plays is all I do. If I know the plays when I get out there, I could be a contributor this year."

Love calls the journey to Wisconsin ‘a great honor' and that the biggest surprise, at least in his eyes, was that he couldn't out perform some of his teammates on the basketball court.

"We talk in the locker room about that all the time," said Love. "From Marquis Mason to Kenzel Doe dunking, we have a lot of good athletes here. We played basketball this summer, and I didn't know how incredible these athletes are here."

Isaiah Williams (6-1, 200 pounds)

Missing at the start of camp because of undisclosed reasons, Williams has slowly been worked back into the mix because of his inability to be in full pads because of NCAA rules. The one advantage is Williams, who worked with the first-team offense during the spring game before being demoted because of drops, has fresh legs that are sticking out.

"He's kind of going at a different rate than everybody else," said Bielema. "He's got a chance to mix it up as well."


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