Spring Position Preview: Wide Receivers

Graduating two wide receivers, the Badgers find themselves in a similar situation they were in two years ago, having plenty of talented receivers with no game day experience. This spring, the wideouts look to improve on their limited knowledge.

Starters returning: Sophomore Kyle Jefferson

Other key returnees: Junior Xavier Harris, sophomore David Gilreath and sophomore Maurice Moore

Starters departed: Paul Hubbard, Luke Swan

Other key departures: Marcus Randle El

Injured Players: None

2008 position coach: DelVaughn Alexander

Spring Story Lines:

Wisconsin has been in this situation before when looking at the wide receiving corps.

Entering 2006, Wisconsin had an unproven plethora of wide receivers with no game day experience. The starters that season – Hubbard and Swan – had only one catch between them entering the season but turned out as NFL quality talent (catching 112 passes for 1,978 yards and 12 touchdowns in their last two seasons).

If that is foreshadowing, Wisconsin's youthful wide receivers are in for a healthy ride.

Realistically this spring, however, the question is: what now?

Other than sophomore Kyle Jefferson (6-foot-5, 176 pounds), the Badgers are incredibly green at the wide out position.

Pressed into duty after Hubbard went down with an injury after the UNLV game, Jefferson provided near immediate dividends. He caught his first touchdown pass (a 64-yard long heave) in his third career game and was the lone bright spot in the Badgers loss to the Nittany Lions, registering career highs of six catches and 124 receiving yards.

Jefferson finished with 26 catches, two touchdowns and 412 yards, the fifth-best all-time by a Wisconsin freshman, and will be a huge asset for the Badgers in terms of bringing experience and agility to the table.

After Jefferson, the second wide out position could belong to junior Xavier Harris. Harris (5-foot-11, 179 pounds) has eight career catches for only 73 yards. Harris has seen reserve rolls at the X, Y and Z positions over the last two seasons, playing in 22 games over the last two seasons.

A track athlete in Fort Lauderdale, Harris possesses solid speed off the line. Competing primarily in the 400-meter relay, Harris still posted times of 23.0 seconds in the 200 meter and 10.9 seconds in the 100-meter dash. Harris speed and his exceptional ball handling skills give him a leg up on the other starting position.

Sophomore David Gilreath (5-foot-11, 154 pounds) was the return specialist last season for the Badgers last year, without question. The speedster from Minnesota set plenty of return records this season – kickoff return yardage in a season (875) and in a game (189) – and was a first team All-American by Scout.com.

Pressed into emergency wide receiving duty at Illinois, Gilreath looks to be a two-trick pony this upcoming season, getting an abundance of repetitions from the start of camp, as the coaching staff seems to want to utilize that speed on the Badger offense, ranking him number one on the depth chart at the Z position.

A year after receiving a medical hardship for a leg injury, sophomore Isaac Anderson (5-foot-11, 177 pounds) looks to be back and fully healthy for the first time in two seasons. Anderson best day was at No.6 Michigan, catching a career-high two passes for 21 yards (another career best).

Another former track star, Anderson holds a Minnesota state Class A record in the 100 meters (10.94 seconds) and has a personal best of 10.84. Combine that with his above average hands, athletic ability and finally being healthy, Anderson will be in the mix for playing time this season.

Another receiver that Badger fans should keep their eye on is sophomore Maurice Moore. Moore (5-foot-11, 168 pounds) played for the first time last year, seeing action at wide receiver in wins over No.13 Michigan, Northern Illinois and No.23 Michigan State.

Physically, no Badger wide out has changed from one year to the next as much as redshirt Nick Toon. Combined with his agility and quickness off the line, Toon used his redshirt year to gain familiarity in the offense and to add 15 pounds of muscle to his skinny frame and looks to be in the conversation for Wisconsin's third starting receiver.

Others in the Mix:

Sophomore Daven Jones (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) – played in nine games on special teams, has one career catch for nine yards.

Brian McCulliss (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) – played six games on special teams.

Elijah Theus (6-foot-2, 182 pounds) - played late in win over Northern Illinois after seeing his first action as a Badger briefly against Illinois.

Cody Rose (6-foot-4, 192 pounds) – Came to Wisconsin as a honorable mention all-state selection as a quarterback, completing 64-of-109 passes for 1,291 yards and 18 TDs as senior. Rushed for 296 yards and 11 TDs as a senior. Switched to the wide receiver position at the start of spring football.

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