News and notes: Cornerback Brett Bell won a starting job late in camp, soon after receiving full clearance to hit…senior Chuckie Cowans is the No. 3 corner right now and the likely slot corner in the nickel defense….true freshmen Jack Ikegwuonu and Allen Langford will play right away, on special teams and as reserve corners….Johnny White emerged as the team's starting strong safety, quite possibly for the next three seasons…. Reserve strong safety Joe Stellmacher returned to health after breaking his leg and his ankle last season. He will get on the field somehow on Saturdays.
Fall MVP: Scott Starks. Starks picked up where he left off last spring, which was where he left off at the end of last season: the senior has developed into a truly special player, an elite athlete with outstanding coverage skills.
Player on the rise: White. After barely having his redshirt removed last season, White was all over the field this fall, earning the starting strong safety position. A big-time hitter, White does have coverage lapses once in a while, but is generally in the right position. He has good range and instincts. He really has a nose for the football.
Questions answered: Bell was clearly the No. 2 corner by the end of camp. His physical style and ability to trail receivers gives the Badgers a strong corner duo. The secondary in general is very talented and exceptionally deep.
Questions remain: With so much depth and so much talent, how do you get players on the field? Levonne Rowan has too much talent to be sitting on the sidelines, though he does need to improve his consistency. The Badgers can easily throw four corners at an opponent, what with Langford and Ikegwuonu looking like capable Big Ten corners as true freshmen.
Wisconsin will likely try a number of different players in the nickel and dime: safeties Joe Stellmacher, Roderick Rogers and Zach Hampton could get a shot, as well as the top four reserve corners.
Final note: This wrap nearly concluded with out a single mention of the unit's best player, free safety Jim Leonhard. The All-American candidate played well as expected. He tracks passes as well as anyone in the country and really attacks the football.
Speaking of attacking the football, the Badgers made forcing turnovers a focal point this fall and it worked in practice: the defense flew to the ball and the secondary and linebackers intercepted a lot of passes, batted a lot of passes down and forced a relatively high number of fumbles.
If that carries over to the field, and Leonhard is not the only player contributing takeaways, Wisconsin will have a great year defensively.
Fall camp wrap, secondary
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