BadgerNation projects the Wisconsin football depth chart heading into spring

With the graduation of key personnel following the 23-21 win over USC in the Holiday Bowl, BadgerNation takes a peak at what the depth chart will look like heading into spring practices.

Quarterback

1a. Bart Houston, R-Sr.

1b. Alex Hornibrook, R-Fr.

3, Kare Lyles, Fr.

Unlike last year, this will be a wide open competition that will start in spring and likely won’t be decided until deep into fall camp. Hornibrook has impressed the coaching staff since he was a senior at Malvern Prep in Pennsylvania and will be going into his second spring. Will Paul Chryst start a redshirt freshman at quarterback or go with the player he recruited when he was the team’s offensive coordinator? Houston’s solid performance at Illinois when Joel Stave left with a head injury certainly won’t hurt his chances to win the job. This spring will be the first for Lyles, who is enrolling early.

Running Back

1, Corey Clement, Sr.

2, Dare Ogunbowale, R-Sr.

3, Taiwan Deal, R-So.

When he’s healthy, Clement is one of the most talented running backs in the Big Ten. He’ll come into 2016 with a chip on his shoulder after being limited to only four games last season and struggling to make a tangible impact. Ogunbowale struggled running between the tackles this season but did his most damage when he broke runs outside the tackle and became a dangerous third-down option when he caught passes in the flat.

Deal had some nice moments early in the season, especially his 147-yard, two-touchdown performance against Hawaii, but suffered an ankle injury that took away playing time during Big Ten play. Playing strong at Minnesota (two touchdowns) and USC at the end of the season should give him a boost as the team’s No.3 back.

Fullback

1, Austin Ramesh, R-Jr.

2, Alec Ingold, So.

For the first time in four years, Wisconsin won’t have Derek Watt clearing the path for the tailbacks. Ramesh got the first extended playing time of his career working next to Watt in UW’s “31” and “32” personnel groupings. Ingold started the year wowing coaches and media as an inside linebacker and ended the year being the team’s best short-yardage tailback. Both have the size and ability to be a solid lead blocker.

Wide Receiver

1, Rob Wheelwright, Sr.

2, Jazz Peavy, R-Jr.

3A, George Rushing, Jr.

3B, Krenwick Sanders, Jr.

The Alex Erickson security blanket is gone, so the Badgers will need to find a new No.1 option. Wheelwright was putting together a solid season before breaking his leg Oct.24 but came back to make a spectacular catch in the bowl game. Health is always his biggest obstacle. Peavy – who stayed healthy - latched on to Ted Gilmore’s coaching and made steady improvements throughout the season to enter spring as the No.2 option. Beyond those two, UW still doesn’t know what it has from Rushing, Sanders and even senior Reggie Love, whose inconsistencies and unreliability has cost him reps.

Tight End/H-Back

1, Troy Fumagalli, Jr.

2, Eric Steffes, Sr.

Austin Traylor’s injury allowed Fumagalli and Steffes to be on the field quite a bit together in Chryst’s multiple tight end sets, and gave Fumagalli a chance to shine as a pass catcher. Steffes’ real strength is run blocking, so the duo should complement each other well. Be on the lookout for redshirt freshman Kyle Penniston, who will be going into his second spring in the program.

Offensive Tackle

Beau Benzschawel, R-So.

Jacob Maxwell, R-So.

Ryan Ramczyk, Jr.

After a year of headaches on the line, offensive line coach Joe Rudolph has options of where to put players. Benzschawel and Maxwell both started games at right tackle this season; Maxwell starting the final two games of the season when Benzschawel moved inside to right guard. Rudolph could move Benzschawel back to right tackle and Maxwell to left tackle or keep them exactly where they are. Time with tell.

Spring will be critical to build some depth at the position. Ramczyk was a first-team all-conference player before transferring from UW-Stevens Point, so it’ll be interesting to see how he used last season on the scout team to adjust to FBS football. UW also has plenty of young players in the program who will be getting reps.

Offensive Guard

Michael Deiter, R-So.

Micah Kapoi, R-So.

Jon Dietzen, R-Fr.

Walker Williams, R-Sr.

Again there are options here for Rudolph. Deiter filled in for center the second half of the season when Voltz went down with a knee injury and will likely be flipping between left guard and center in the spring while Voltz rehabs. The right guard spot is wide open between Kapoi (5 starts at LG, 4 at RG), Williams (seven starts at RG) and Dietzen, who will be going into his second spring practices at Wisconsin. UW also counted on Logan Schmidt – a redshirt senior next year - to fill in when Williams went down.

Center

1, Dan Voltz, Sr.

2, Michael Deiter, R-So.

3, George Panos, R-So.

If Voltz is healthy, this position is pretty straightforward. Coming off a serious knee injury, Voltz will take the starting spot for the fourth straight year. If something happens, UW is confident that Deiter can slide over and take over the center spot. Panos continues to wait in the wings for an opportunity to play.

Nose Tackle

1A, Arthur Goldberg, R-Sr.

1B, Conor Sheehy, Jr.

2, Olive Sagapolu, So.

3, Jeremy Patterson, R-So.

After beginning the year at defensive end, Goldberg saw more repetitions at nose tackle in UW’s base package midway through the season but still logged eight starts at end. Sheehy started six games at nose tackle and the final two at end, so UW can interchange things in the trenches throughout next season. Sagapolu surprised everyone by playing such a major role as a true freshman, even starting some games along the way. His progression will free up things in the middle to allow Goldberg to play more end. Sagapolu’s play passed Patterson on the depth chart, so this offseason will be important for Patterson to show he’s deserving of more opportunities.

Defensive End

1, Chikwe Obasih,R- Jr.

2A, Alec James, R-Jr.

2B, Zander Neuville, R-So.

Obasih will be a three-year starter and will have plenty of help on the opposite end with Goldberg and/or Sheehy. James and Neuville developed a really good combination in Wisconsin’s nickel package that required only two down linemen. They are warranted of having an opportunity to expand their roles this upcoming season. UW also has some youth at the position – sophomore Billy Hirschfeld and redshirt freshman David Pfaff – who could fit their way into the equation.

Inside Linebacker

1A, T.J. Edwards, R-So.

1B, Chris Orr, So.

1C, Jack Cichy, R-Jr.

Edwards was a Scout.com freshman first-team All-American and Orr outplayed Leon Jacobs for the starting role in the nonconference season. Cichy was spectacular filling in at inside linebacker after Orr suffered a leg injury against Illinois, highlighted by registering sacks on three straight plays against USC. Depending who emerges in place of Joe Schobert, Cichy could be moved back to the outside, allowing junior Keelon Brookins or sophomores Ryan Connelly and Nick Thomas an opportunity to play and enhance UW’s depth.

Outside Linebacker

1, Vince Biegel, R-Sr.

2, Leon Jacobs, Sr.

3, T.J. Watt, R-Jr.

Biegel returning for his senior season is huge and bolsters a front seven that only loses Schobert. On the opposite side of Biegel, UW could turn to Cichy or Jacobs, who missed most of this season with a toe injury and will likely be a candidate to move back to OLB after spending the last two years at inside linebacker. Watt will be interesting to watch after he was converted to the position in fall camp and earned more playing time as the season progressed, including making a tangible impact the final two games of the year.

Cornerback

1, Sojourn Shelton, Sr.

2, Derrick Tindal, Jr.

3, Natrell Jamerson, Jr.

Shelton will be the leader of the group as a true four-year starter after the graduation of Hilary. Tindal has played the nickel corner position the last two years and will look to become more consistent as the likely No. 2 corner. After transitioning from receiver to corner last spring, Jamerson will look to get more comfortable at the position. UW doesn’t have much depth after Jamerson, so redshirt freshman Titus Booker will have plenty of opportunities to play.

Safety

1, D’Cota Dixon, Jr.

2, Joe Ferguson, R-Jr.

3, Leo Musso, R-Sr.

Easily the biggest question mark entering the spring, secondary coach Daronte Jones will need to find replacements for Michael Caputo and Tanner McEvoy. Dixon is back at his more natural position and looks to be a good strong safety prospect. Ferguson’s role continued to increase throughout this season and should be given a look at for the starting role. Musso began the year as a starter before McEvoy become a full-time player at safety and will attempt to regain that spot next season. There’s nothing he can do about his 5-10 frame, so he’ll have to be technically sound. It’ll be interesting to see how sophomore Arrington Farrar plays after being moved to the position during the season.

Kicker

1, Rafael Gaglianone, Jr.

2, Andrew Endicott, Sr.

No surprises here. If healthy, Gaglianone will be the team’s starting field goal kicker for his third year, while Endicott handles the kickoff duties.

Punter

1, P.J. Rosowski, R-So.

The only punter on the roster heading into the spring, Rowoski will have to take advantage of the reps considering highly-touted freshman Anthony Lotti will be joining the roster in the summer.


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