Practice: D'Cota Dixon Anxious to Hit

Going heavy on position drills and individual work during the first two days of fall camp, Wisconsin football is seeing a number of players previously sidelined with injuries look fresh and willing to contribute. While senior Jordan Fredrick is the healthiest he's been in months, sophomore linebacker D'Cota Dixon is the healthiest he's been in years.

MADISON - D’Cota Dixon finally knows what it feels like to play injury free … and it feels awkward.

“It feels good, but I’ve got to get back in pads and start competing with the boys,” said Dixon. “I want to get in some contact and some reps in plays.”

Dixon, and his fellow Wisconsin teammates for that matter, didn’t get much contract on day two of fall camp Tuesday. In helmets for the second straight day, per NCAA rules, Wisconsin went heavy on position drills and had no 11-on-11 work. Wisconsin is expected to be in half-pack tomorrow, which would make Dixon even more anxious to go.

Having played with a torn labrum in his shoulder since his sophomore year of high school, Dixon was committed to playing last season and contributing on defense and special teams. He played three games and assisted on three tackles but had to shut it down when his arm would continuously pop out of its socket.

“It kept slipping out way too frequently,” said Dixon, who opted for season-ending surgery. “It wasn’t getting no better. It couldn’t get any worse. Coach (Gary) Andersen thought (surgery) was the best decision for me.”

Although he was given the option to stay at linebacker, Dixon was persuaded by the coaching staff to move to safety to better protect his shoulder. A four-year starter at defensive back and a three-year team captain, Dixon was a first-team all-state by Associated Press as a senior. Dusting off his old steps and keys, Dixon said the biggest hurdle is getting back in the swing.

“I don’t even know how it feels to be normal,” said Dixon. “It’s still edgy sometimes. Biggest thing for me is confidence. A lot of people are worried about what position they are going to be in and the depth chart. I’m more looking forward to getting back on the field, learning and contributing to the team in some form or fashion.

“Actually, I just want to have fun. I don’t want to think about starting. I want to get back to having fun.”

Gillins Continues to Develop

Heralded as a speedy dual-threat option, quarterback D.J. Gillins’ biggest hang-up has been his throwing mechanics and his consistency. In day two’s small sample size, it’s evident to see the progress Gillins has made in his abilities.

During 7-on-7 drills, Gillins wasted no time targeting Jordan Fredrick over the middle of the field on a perfectly throw 37-yard completion that was a combination of speed, spiral and accuracy. It was one of the better looking throws I’ve seen Gillins made.

He also fired another spiral that went through the hands of Tanner McEvoy, who likely was caught by surprised at the velocity of the throw.

Not to be outdone, Bart Houston – Gillins’ main competition - hit tight end Troy Fumagalli through a tight window of two defenders shortly after Gillins’ long completion.

Healthy Fredrick is Dangerous

Wisconsin is desperately searching for an option other than Alex Erickson in the passing game this season, so much so that the Badgers rotated in countless players during spring football looking for a spark. Senior Jordan Fredrick was not among those players, limited after back injuries robbed him of countless practice time throughout the season. That no longer seems to be the case.

Pronouncing himself healthy at the start of the week, Fredrick was Wisconsin’s best receiver on day two. Not only did he finish off Gillins’ perfect spiral in 7-on-7, Fredrick hauled in a 55-yard pass from Stave that would have set up Wisconsin inside 20.

Fredrick has the most experience of the receiver group, having played in all 41 games over the last three years, but has developed a reputation for his persistence in downfield blocking in both the run and pass game on wide receiver screens. That role could easily increase this year.

Extra Points: True freshman David Edwards did not practice Tuesday after suffering a left ankle injury Monday. He appeared at the conclusion of practice in a left walking boot and needing crutches. It was presumed he would redshirt this season as he build his frame after playing quarterback last season … Natrell Jamerson has started to find his footing at his new position. Flipping from receiver to defensive back in the spring, Jamerson registered the only interception of the day during 7-on-7 drills … Chikwe Obasih and Arthur Goldberg worked at defensive end with the first-team base defense while Conor Sheehy worked at nose tackle. First-team nickel was Alec James and Zander Neuville.

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