Spring practice report, March 27

News and notes from the Badgers' third practice of the spring

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin football team donned pads for the first time this spring in Monday night's two-and-a-half hour workout in the McClain Center.

The Badgers did not do any live tackling, but they did wrap up to finish drills and team sessions.

Offensive line

Tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel suited up in full pads with the rest of his teammates, but again did not take part in contact work, restricting his participation to drills.

Mike Van Someren continued to serve as the first-team left tackle with right tackle Kraig Urbik double shifting between the first and second teams.

Andrew Weininger has typically been the second-team left tackle, but Monday he also flipped over to right tackle, when Van Someren filled in on the left side with the second team.

First-team guard Danny Kaye's mobility has jumped out early in the spring practice season. He does a pretty good job of getting out to the edge and delivering a block.

Running backs

Jamil Walker was a fantastic track athlete in high school, having completed the 100 meters in as few as 10.4 seconds. That speed shows itself when Walker has an opportunity to get into the secondary, as he had several times Monday night.

During 9-on-9 run-game work, Walker had an excellent run between the tackles when he read the hole, made one cut and burst into the end zone (the drill begins from the 10 going in).

During an 11-on-11 segment, Walker turned the corner and blew past a linebacker to get into the open field.

All three redshirt freshman tailbacks acquitted themselves well. P.J. Hill in particular had a good day. He reads blocks very well and can deliver a blow when he lowers his shoulder.

Dion Foster and Jerry Butler are very nimble through the hole and also have good vision. Foster stood out in particular on a short run toward the end of the 9 on 9 work, when he did a really good job reading a pair of blocks along the edge and cut back to pick up a couple of extra yards.

Dywon Rowan missed practice due to a class obligation.

UW conducted an interesting one-on-one blocking drill (or shed-the-block drill, depending on your perspective) between running backs and linebackers. The linebackers had a distinct edge in this matchup overall, but fullback Chris Pressley typically dominated his opponent.

Walk-on junior fullback Josh Balts had a good pass reception, which went for about 15 yards.

Wide receivers and tight ends

Jarvis Minton, the early favorite to be the team's No. 1 receiver in the fall, missed practice due to a study session.

In his absence, the quartet of Paul Hubbard, Marcus Randle El, Luke Swan and Jeff Holzbauer rotated most often with the first-team offense. Redshirt freshman T.J. Theus was next in line, followed by redshirt freshman walk-on Richard Kirtley.

Hubbard's immense potential seems to be coming into cleaner focus, though he still needs to be more consistent. He got behind the secondary for a deep touchdown catch during 7-on-7 work today.

Randle El and Swan had excellent practices.

Swan was all over the field, making reception after reception. He even did a little trash talking after one catch along the sideline. And late in practice Swan ran an excellent route to get loose along the sideline, caught a pass in the open and broke down field for what would have been a long touchdown in a live situation.

Randle El made several sparkling receptions, including a lunging grab along the sideline. He also made an excellent play on an under-thrown pass over the middle.

At tight end, Travis Beckum, Andy Crooks and Sean Lewis continue to distinguish themselves.

Beckum stands out athletically. He is built more like a wide receiver at 215 pounds and he has shown quite a bit of talent and potential at the position. He appears to be more comfortable at tight end than he was on the other side of the football.

For the second straight practice, Kirtley, one of the walk-on wide receivers, stood out with a good adjustment on an under-thrown pass.

Defensive line

Defensive end Kurt Ware missed practice due to a knee injury. Ware was limited late in practice on Sunday and had his right knee wrapped afterwards. He watched practice in shorts and a T-shirt Monday.

As a result of Ware's absence, Brandon Kelly was a first-team defensive end Monday, along with Joe Monty. Jason Chapman remained at tackle, playing alongside Nick Hayden.

Kelly's penetration during the 9 on 9 work helped lead to one of linebacker Elijah Hodge's tackles for loss.

Walk-on Adam Purcell played end on the second and third defenses.

Linebackers

Elijah Hodge had a terrific practice. During the running back-versus-linebacker drill, Hodge was the one linebacker who truly held his own against Pressley. The two enjoyed the best collision of the spring thus far, when Pressley went full bore into Hodge. The redshirt freshman linebacker met the hit square on and fought through it to make it to the tackling dummy that was serving as a ball carrier.

During 9-on-9 work, Hodge was a beast, with at least three stops for loss. He plays down hill and diagnoses plays very well.

Second-team sam linebacker O'Brien Schofield had a stop for loss during the 9-on-9 segment.

Secondary

Second-team cornerback Zach Hampton did not participate in practice Monday, after injuring his foot in practice Sunday. Head coach Bret Bielema said after practice Monday that Hampton's absence was precautionary in nature and that he was hopeful Hampton would return soon.

With Hampton out, redshirt freshman Prince Moody moved up from the third team to the second team at cornerback.

Then, during practice, cornerback Allen Langford suffered an upper body injury, which bumped Ben Strickland up to the first-team defense. Third-team corner Jameson Davis was then reunited with Moody on the second team.

Amidst all of that, the third-team cornerbacks became walk-ons Chris Eernisse, who is listed as a wide receiver, and Brian Herman.

First-team corner Jack Ikegwuonu had a pass breakup and an interception during 11-on-11 work.

Second-team strong safety Johnny White had a stop for loss in 11-on-11 work.

Moody, Davis and Strickland each had pass breakups when they dislodged the ball from a receiver with a stinging hit.

Third-team strong safety Aubrey Pleasant will not take part in spring practices. After practice Monday Bielema said that Pleasant had shoulder surgery following the Capital One Bowl. He is expected to be ready for a 100 percent return by the time the Badgers begin summer conditioning June 12.

Special teams

Due to Minton's absence for school obligations, Strickland filled in for him catching punts, along with Jerry Butler and Marcus Randle El.


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