The most experienced offensive lineman in Wisconsin’s program will likely begin his final season at a brand new position.
Having been a steady influence, when healthy, at the center position for the better part of three seasons, Dan Voltz will likely be making the switch to left guard this upcoming season. After missing the second half of last year with a torn ACL, and all of spring rehabilitating, Voltz offered up the switch to offensive coordinator/line coach Joe Rudolph because of the rapid development of sophomore center Michael Deiter. Rudolph will have to figure out what position Voltz is best suited for as he tries to maximize his talent along the offensive line.
Stats: 32 career games and 27 starts
Strengths: Voltz is a smart player who can be relied on to make all the line calls, part of the reason why working at guard shouldn’t be a big stretch mentally for him. His football IQ and the number of games he has played gives Wisconsin a lot of experience on a line that is still fairly inexperienced at the division 1 level. It helps that Voltz has good study habits, is a disciplined player and rarely allows pressures by consistently getting better leverage.
Weaknesses: Voltz is a valuable player for Wisconsin’s starting offensive line but the question that surrounds him is if he can stay healthy. Over the last two seasons Voltz has battled ankle and knee issues that have cost him considerable game action. There’s also the question of whether Voltz will be able to quickly pick up a new position (footwork, reads, rhythm) after having been engrained at the center spot nearly his entire collegiate career.
Why he’s #12: The offensive line for Wisconsin isn’t as green as it was a year ago but the Badgers’ depth will be tested without Voltz in the starting lineup. Wisconsin’s offense is going to need to rely on having a healthy Voltz if the Badgers want to get the run game back to its high standards. Whether Voltz plays guard or center, he will be able to help open up holes for Wisconsin’s running backs with his physicality and ability to get out and make blocks on the edges. Voltz will be the lone senior on the starting offensive line and will be looked at to provide the leadership amongst the line.
Overall: One of the anchors of last year’s offensive line with fifth-year senior left tackle Tyler Marz, Voltz was limited to only seven games due to injuries. Once again Voltz will be expected to be one of the anchors on the offensive line and has demonstrated what kind of leader he is by suggesting that keeping Deiter at center might be better overall for the line’s success. If Voltz’s can get back to 100 percent physically by the time fall camp starts, it should allow him a full three weeks to make the transition to guard. If Wisconsin’s offensive line is going to return to the dominance that people expect it, it will need a healthy Voltz in order to do so.