If Brian Calhoun had not decided to transfer to Wisconsin, the Badgers would not exactly need sympathy for their tailback situation.
With Calhoun in tow, however, nearly every program in America should be envious of the depth and possibilities Wisconsin has at the position.
Under NCAA transfer rules, Calhoun cannot touch the field this season, but will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2005.
This fall, the Badgers can once again boast one of the best tailbacks, and most dynamic players, in college football in senior Anthony Davis, who ran for more than 3,000 yards his first two years in Madison before suffering through an injury-plagued 2003 campaign. Davis was healthy last spring and from all indications should be devastating to opposing defenses this year.
The heir apparent to Davis has been junior Dwayne Smith, a powerful tailback who looked substantially improved last spring after earning honorable mention All-Big Ten acclaim last season. Smith, though, faces trial on rape charges. He will suit up when Wisconsin begins practice Aug. 11, but until his case is resolved in the legal system this fall (his original Sept. 1 trial date has been postponed) the Badgers cannot count on him for 2005.
Even without Davis, Smith and even without the Calhoun transfer, the Badgers still would have been solid at tailback in 2005.
Sophomore Booker Stanley is a quickly developing runner who played admirably in relief of both Davis and Smith as a redshirt freshman last season. He has the talent and durability to be a workhorse running back and even with Calhoun in tow and Smith available could be the Badgers starter in 2005.
And Wisconsin, per usual, has had great success recruiting tailbacks for the 2004 and 2005 seasons. This fall, speedster Jamil Walker and Chris Pressley, a behemoth who will be all-to-frequently compared to Ron Dayne before he even takes a hand off, provide excellent possibilities. Pressley could also play fullback, a possibility that looms larger with the addition of Calhoun. Wisconsin has also claimed a 2005 verbal commitment from Dion Foster, the prep teammate of current Badger freshman quarterback Sean Lewis. Foster ran for more than 3,400 yards and 52 touchdowns the last two seasons at H L Richards High School (Oak Lawn, Ill.).
So where does Calhoun fit in? The possibilities are endless. Calhoun was Colorado's leading rusher last year as a sophomore, tallying more than 800 yards. He could leap ahead of Stanley and Smith on the depth chart and become the Badgers go-to player at the position.
More likely, the Badgers will boast an incredible tailback rotation with Stanley and Calhoun getting plenty of carries and Smith getting his fair share of the load if he is available.
In 2006, when Smith's eligibility is complete, Calhoun and Stanley could form a tandem reminiscent of Terrell Fletcher and Brent Moss. Walker and Pressley, who could very well be sophomores that season after redshirts this fall, would be groomed along with Foster as the next heirs to Wisconsin's tailback throne. A more envious position is hardly imaginable for Wisconsin's offensive coaches.
Calhoun has stated that he did not care for the possibility of switching to receiver, as Colorado's coaches planned for him this fall. But that does not mean he could not be used as a receiver in certain situations. At the very least his ability to catch passes out of the backfield will provide a substantial weapon for the Badgers offense.
Anthony Davis, by the way, wants that to be a part of Wisconsin's repertoire this year, with him as the target. He spent last spring working diligently on his hands and said then that he hopes he could earn the coaches' trust in making him a receiving weapon out of the backfield. Perhaps, while Calhoun is honing his skills a runner, taking pointers from Davis and the rest on the nuances of Wisconsin's offense, Calhoun can serve as a tutor in the passing game.
Outside of football, Calhoun will bolster an already dominant track program, for which he plans to run sprints. Calhoun will likely join a 400 relay team in 2005 that will be a favorite to win a national title with a speedy contingent likely to include Demi Omole, Antonio Freeman and Paul Hubbard.
For the Badger football and track programs, quite simply, Christmas has come five months early.
Calhoun and UW
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