Most Indispensable Badger - No.5

With the college football season just around the corner, BadgerNation brings back its list of the 20 most important players to the Badgers' success in the 2015 season. The best receiver on the roster, senior Alex Erickson is critical to the success of Wisconsin's passing game and the offense.

The leader of what’s perceived to be the most promising wide receiving core in several seasons, senior Alex Erickson will be utilized and labeled as the top receiving threat of first year head coach Paul Chryst’s offense. Possessing great hands as well as outstanding route running abilities, Erickson will be called upon as a leader of the offense, not just the receivers.

Strengths: While he doesn’t have explosive speed, Erickson’s intangibles are his greatest asset. In addition to his hands and route running, Erickson – with a big assist from fellow senior receiver Jordan Fredrick – has made a big impact on bubble screens for UW’s offense. Studying under former Badgers receiver Jared Abbrederis – another former walk-on who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers - has certainly helped him become the player he is today. Erickson does not have the impressive size by any means (6-0, 199), but he has the fundamentals that sets him apart from the rest.

Weaknesses: The lack of top end speed is the biggest thing missing from Erickson’s game. If Erickson was a bit quicker, he would likely have a few more long runs and more than his three career touchdowns. In his 27 career games, Erickson averages 14 yards per catch and 33.3 yards per game, not bad but not the greatest for someone labeled as the team’s No.1 receiver. Erickson has the ability to break away from the coverage initially, but it is tough for him to get away from opposing quick safeties and corners if he gets the ball in the open field.

Why he is #5: Breaking into the top five, Erickson is the most promising offensive threat besides junior tailback Corey Clement. The coaching staff will need to utilize his ability if they want to use play-action and deep routes to their advantage this season. It has worked in the past, especially with the connection Erickson has developed with fifth-year senior quarterback Joel Stave, so do not expect to see them steer away from that this season.

Overall: Another great walk-on story, Erickson will need to take his potential and take his opportunity and run with it while the inexperienced players around him get their footing. With the Badgers wanting to implement more of a pass game to take pressure off the run, Erickson will make the most of his opportunity and become one of the more impressive Big Ten receivers. He has the ability and will likely lead UW in catches and receiving yards for the second straight year. If he doesn’t, the Badgers will struggle to be successful.

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