MADISON - ‘We have plenty of time to make things right.'
Position coach DelVaughn Alexander stated that, the quarterbacks echoed it and the receivers admitted to it. After a stressful spring camp, in which in seemed more balls were dropped than caught at times, Wisconsin's youthful wide receiving unit has the entire summer to shake out the yips.
Each wide receiver had its share of ups and downs throughout spring camp but probably none as much as sophomore Kyle Jefferson. The only receiver that saw significant time in the offense last season was called out for not making plays on more than one occasion by head coach Bret Bielema. The result: Jefferson started to perform better until an off-the-field incident in which Jefferson injured his knee running into a concrete pillar sidelined him for the last week of camp.
While Jefferson struggled, sophomore David Gilreath flourished throughout camp, catching plenty of passes that were in and out of his reach. Gilreath was never afraid to go airborne to snag a pass, as the number of spectacular diving catches he made, including a 35-yard diving snag in the spring game, showed that he's ready to be a double threat for the Badgers this season.
Next to Gilreath, sophomore Isaac Anderson was one of the most improved players in camp. Fully recovered from a leg injury that kept him out of the 07 season and putting on roughly 10 pounds on muscle, Anderson had a strong last two weeks of practice and performed even better when he was inserted into the first team with Jefferson went down.
Anderson was an impressive site in the red zone throughout the last week of practice, making a variety of big catches in the end zone – one on a jumping leap in double coverage, one on a slant route at the back of the end zone and another one tip toeing along the sidelines.
But as good as his last week was, Anderson's biggest play in the spring game was a play he didn't make. Catching three passes for 31 yards, Anderson dropped a wide-open touchdown pass that caused the head coach to cringe.
"I wish certain guys could have made a couple of big plays for us," Bielema said. "Isaac's had a pretty good spring, but the thing that jumps out to me is that dropped touchdown. Those touchdowns just don't come around."
Sophomore Daven Jones was plagued with inconsistency throughout camp but showed more promise than he did last fall. After being away from football for over a year, Jones had trouble adjusting to the passing routes and holding onto the football during fall camp. A season later, the drops are still there at times, but the Glenville, Ohio native looks more comfortable running routes and making plays within the offense.
Player of Camp: David Gilreath
Projected Starters: Kyle Jefferson, David Gilreath and Isaac Anderson