Spring practice report, March 25

UW opened its 15-practice spring season with a workout at the McClain Center Saturday morning

The University of Wisconsin football team kicked off its spring football season Saturday morning, practicing for about two hours in the McClain Center. The team worked out in shorts, jerseys and helmets, with position-by-position drills building up to a light contact scrimmage session.

News and notes:


With John Stocco firmly established as the Badgers' starting quarterback, it appears that reserves Tyler Donovan and Dustin Sherer will get significantly more repetitions than No. 2 and No. 3 quarterbacks typically have at Wisconsin in the past.

As for Stocco, he was in a good rhythm for the first day of practice.

Offensive line

All-American left tackle Joe Thomas watched practice in street clothes. He will not take part in drills this spring as he recovers from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered while playing defensive line in the Capital One Bowl.

Thomas' backup at left tackle, Eric Vanden Heuvel, suited up and participated in position drills, but was not a part of contact work due to an injury he is nursing back to health.

With Thomas and Vanden Heuvel out for the light scrimmage work, Mike Van Someren filled in at left tackle with the first offense.

The rest of the first offensive line: center Marcus Coleman, left guard Danny Kaye, right guard Andy Kemp and incumbent right tackle Kraig Urbik.

Andrew Weininger, who finished last season playing guard, was the second-team left tackle and Luke Knauf backed up Coleman at center

Jeff Stehle, a converted defensive tackle, played left guard with the second team.

Running backs

Wisconsin's tailbacks—P.J. Hill, Jamil Walker, Dion Foster, Jerry Butler and Dywon Rowan—rotated liberally with the first and second teams.

Wide receivers and tight ends

The first group of wide receivers early in practice appears to be Jarvis Minton, Marcus Randle El and Paul Hubbard. The tight ends that spent the most time with first unit were Sean Lewis, Travis Beckum and Andy Crooks.

At first blush, Hubbard is poised to make a tremendous jump this spring. He is UW's biggest receiver and possibly its all-around most athletic player at any position, but he has gone through some growing pains trying to find consistency.

Lewis made a couple of impressive catches during 7-on-7 work.

Crooks and Beckum are a case study in contrast-in-styles. Crooks looks every bit of the 264 pounds he is listed at and is carrying the weight very well. He really looks the part. Beckum looks comparatively tiny at 215 pounds but moves like a wide receiver and has some natural receiving skills.

The second "corps" of receivers appeared to include Jeff Holzbauer, Luke Swan and T.J. Theus. They each rotated in with the first and second teams.

Receiver Richard Kirtley stood out with his burst off the line of scrimmage and fellow walk-on Matt Gifford made an impressive sliding catch.

Receiver Jarmal Ruffin caught a deep pass for a big gain, out-running two defensive backs into the end zone. Ruffin teamed with Minton at times with the first-team offense.

Minton also caught a deep pass.

Randle El made a really impressive catch along the sideline.

Jae McFadden, Garrett Graham and walk-on Matt Brown rotated in at tight end.

Defensive line

The first-team defensive line was ends Kurt Ware and Joe Monty and tackles Nick Hayden and Jason Chapman.

Chapman, who started most of last season at tackle but played end in the bowl game, will likely flex between the two positions this spring.

The second team tackles were Justin Ostrowski and Mike Newkirk.

Jamal Cooper, a starter before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the third game of last season, took part in the non-contact position drills and appeared to be moving fairly well. He did not participate in contact work and most likely will not at any point this spring.

During position drill time, Cooper lined up with the second defense.

For the rest of the day, however, the second-team ends were Terrance Jamison and Brandon Kelly.

Matt Shaughnessy, who started most of last season at end as a true freshman before also suffering a torn ACL, participated in a very light position warm-up early in practice, but otherwise stood on the sideline and watched. Shaughnessy will not take part in any contact work this spring and will only participate minimally in non-contact drills as he continues to rehab his knee.

The third-team defensive line featured three walk-ons: ends Adam Purcell and Brian Behnke and tackle Derek Yentz.

Tackle Dan Cascone was the lone scholarship player on the third team defensive line. Cascone is listed at 307 pounds this spring, a far cry from the 330 pounds he weighed about a year ago and the 320 he checked in at the beginning of fall training camp last August. He looks significantly more athletic than he did last fall.

Defensive tackle Gino Cruse is not taking part in spring practices in an effort to focus on academics.


Sophomore linebackers DeAndre Levy and Jonathan Casillas have flipped positions, with Levy moving over to the strongside sam position and Casillas shifting to the weakside will spot. They are the favorites to take over for Dontez Sanders and LaMarr Watkins, who have used up their eligibility.

Levy is listed at 220 pounds, while Casillas weighs 208. Both players run very well.

Mark Zalewski remains at mike linebacker for what will be his third straight season in the starting lineup.

The second-team linebackers were O'Brien Schofield at sam, Elijah Hodge at mike and walk-on Ben Landgraf at will.

The third team was Paul Joran at sam, Josh Neal at mike and Jammar Crane at will.

In drill work, walk-ons mike Ryan Flasch and will Adam Ludovic were a fourth group, but Flasch worked in with the second team during the scrimmage and 7-on-7 segments.

Casey Hogan, who was a second-team sam last season, but suffered a broken leg against Northwestern, watched practice from the sideline in street clothes.

During 7-on-7 work, Hodge made a very impressive lunging pass breakup.

Schofield broke up a pass intended for Crooks.


The first team was Joe Stellmacher at strong safety and Roderick Rogers at free safety, with Jack Ikegwuonu and Allen Langford at cornerback.

The second team was strong safety Johnny White, free safety Shane Carter and cornerbacks Zach Hampton and Ben Strickland.

Hampton was a second-team free safety last year, but the Badgers are thin at cornerback and want Carter to progress at free safety.

The third team was strong safety walk-on William Hartmann, free safety James Kamoku, who was the fourth-team strong safety last year, and cornerbacks Prince Moody and Jameson Davis.

Strong safety Aubrey Pleasant did not participate Saturday and watched practice in street clothes.

Walk-on Nate Egholm spent some time at strong safety with the third defense.

Ikegwuonu intercepted a pass.

Hampton had a pair of pass breakups late in practice.

Strickland broke up a pass during 3-on-3.

Special teams

Marcus Randle El, Jerry Butler and Jarvis Minton took turns fielding punts when the Badgers were working on their punt coverage group.

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