Fall Camp Guide: Running backs

Badgers' top options are complimentary; depth needs to develop

Starter returning: Senior fullback Matt Bernstein, 6-foot-2, 266 pounds. (2004 stats – 12 starts, 12 games, 300 rushing yards, 83 carries, 1 touchdown, 68 receiving yards, 9 receptions).

More key returnees: Junior tailback Booker Stanley 5-10, 214 (3 starts, 10 games played, 115 carries, 350 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 18 receptions for 146 yards); junior tailback Brian Calhoun 5-10, 194 (redshirted in 2004 due to NCAA transfer rules); sophomore fullback Chris Pressley, 6-1, 256 (played five games, 11 caries for 36 yards); redshirt freshman fullback Bill Rentmeester, 6-0, 249.

Newcomers: Freshmen tailback Jerry Butler, 5-9, 175; tailback Dion Foster, 5-8, 195; and fullback P.J. Hill, 5-11, 220.

Also in the mix: Junior tailback Dywon Rowan, 5-9, 239; sophomore tailback Jamil Walker, 6-2, 215 (played in five games, 26 carries for 102 yards); and sophomore fullback Josh Balts, 6-1, 239.

Key departures: Tailback Anthony Davis (started eight games, 201 caries for 973 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 13 passes for 96 yards).

Additional departures: Fullback Greg Root.

Reasons to be excited: The Badgers should not miss a beat at the tailback position with Brian Calhoun taking over for departed star Anthony Davis. Calhoun is a dynamic athlete who is a game-breaking threat as a runner and as a pass receiver… Fullback Matt Bernstein is the best at his position in the Big Ten… Booker Stanley looked rejuvenated on the football field during spring practices and should compliment Calhoun well… There is solid depth at fullback, where Pressley and Rentmeester will compete for the No. 2 spot.

Cause for trepidation: There should be greater depth at tailback than there was last season, when Davis and Stanley were hampered by injuries and the Badgers had to turn to Bernstein periodically. But UW still needs to develop more depth at the position. Walker showed flashes of solid potential last season, but he has battled injuries since last winter. The true freshmen are promising but, by definition, unproven… Calhoun was a very good player during his time at Colorado, but there will likely be an adjustment to game action once he steps onto the field Sept. 3 for the first time in a year-and-a-half. In the grand scheme of things, this is of small concern…. Rentmeester and Pressley each have tons of potential, but neither has played fullback in a college football game.

Camp questions: How exactly will Wisconsin use Calhoun? The coaching staff has intimated that they would like to see him have the versatility of Reggie Bush but it remains to be seen how that potential for creativity will play out in games this season…. How many carries can Calhoun, Stanley and possibly a third tailback expect? Calhoun will be the featured runner, but he is also going to return punts and he could end up being the team's most dynamic receiver. So the Badgers are not going to want to burn him out running 25 times a game. When healthy, Stanley can bear a considerable load. If UW wants to return to being a dominant running team, a third option will likely need to emerge that can take 5-10 carries a game and step up if Stanley or Calhoun are injured… Who among Walker, Rowan, Foster and Butler will emerge as that No. 3 tailback?.... Will Pressley or Rentmeester win the No. 2 fullback job? Each of those players is also capable of playing tailback.

Forecast: This will be the focal point of the Badgers' offense and one of the team's best positions. Calhoun is a star-in-waiting. Do not be surprised if he rushes for 1,000 yards and has 400 yards receiving… Stanley is a dependable No. 2 and there are solid options in reserve… If there was an All-American fullback, Bernstein would have as good a shot as any at receiving that honor… The big variable is health. The Badgers' depth at tailback could be severely strained if the injury bug strikes for the third straight year.

BadgerNation.com projected depth chart

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