Fall Camp Report: Practice No.14

Naturally drawing comparisons to All-American tight end Travis Beckum because of his size and history, junior Lance Kendricks is simply doing his best to try and fill some big shoes. During Friday morning's practice, Kendricks showed that he is making steps in the right direction.

MADISON - One of the sought after recruits in the state of Wisconsin for the 2006 signing class, Lance Kendricks was thought to be a talented wide receiver for the Badgers in the future.

The same still holds true, although his position has changed just a touch.

Although being rated as four-star recruit from Milwaukee King High, Kendricks was shifted to the tight end position upon arriving at Wisconsin, as the coaching staff sought to utilize Kendricks shear size and agility. Since then, the junior has added 20 pounds, has fully recovered from a broken leg that cost him time last season and has the confidence to thrive at the position.

With the blitz barring down on junior Scott Tolzien, the quarterback quickly unloaded his pass in Kendricks' direction. Despite the pass being low, Kendricks got his tall frame down the ground to make a diving, rolling catch. Kendricks also showed some height, out jumping Blake Sorensen on a short fade route for a decent gain.

Because of where he is from and him changing positions, Kendricks has already drawn comparisons to Travis Beckum, especially with his size (6-foot-3, 236 pounds) and his ability to get the upper hand when he releases into the secondary to pull a block. On an end-around with the speedy David Gilreath, Kendricks released quickly from his three-point stance and sealed off the backer, allowing Gilreath to gain an extra five yards.

Throughout camp, Kendricks has been put in offensive formations with Garrett Graham, giving the Badgers two big and dependable targets.

Sherer Standing Strong

Dustin Sherer continues to throw the out route extremely well, a throw that he continues to thrive at. During 7-on-7 drills, Sherer showed the right amount of touch get the ball to Kyle Jefferson, who hauled the pass in two steps before the sideline.

Sherer also threw some strikes over the middle, getting a huge assist from Kraig Appleton. Appleton hauled in a bullet from Sherer and took a loud hit from Jae McFadden, as the senior linebacker put his shoulder pad in Appleton's mid-section, sending him to the ground. No big deal for Appleton, who got up, had some words with McFadden and finished the drill.

Although Sherer didn't take many reps during team drills at the end of practice, he showed that he still has enough zip on his fast ball to be considered a viable option.

Corners Make Plays

Sophomore Aaron Henry continues to be a physical cornerback, even during drills. Henry checked Gilreath at the line of scrimmage, and swept around him to knock down a Tolzien pass with his left arm. Later in practice, Henry showed some moves on Appleton, out playing him for the ball and breaking the pass up. As Appleton fell to the turf, Henry pounded his chest as the defense hollered.

Niles Brinkley had no problem reading the eyes of Curt Phillips. With Phillips trying to connect on a 10-yard curl, Brinkley cut the route and had an easy interception, returning it 20 yards before Phillips could push him out of bounds.

Even Shelton Johnson got into the mix, making a nice diving breakup on a pass Rob Korslin would have certainly caught. What made Johnson's play even better was that he stayed home and covered his gap, which proved to be a benefit when his teammates bit on a play-action bootleg by Phillips.

Kevin Claxton will be kicking himself once he sees how close he came to out muscling Graham for position on a Tolzien throw. Tolzien fired a pass over the middle for Graham, but a slight hesitation from Claxton cost him position, getting to the ball a nanosecond late and costing him the pick. By his reaction and frustrated yell, he knew it too.

Powerful Punch

Although he's been coming along slowly this fall, redshirt fullback Sam Spitz is fighting for some playing time at fullback, showcasing his ability to protect the quarterback. With the strong-side backer coming on a blitz, Spitz neutralized him with a solid block, standing him up and allowing his quarterback some extra time. Later in practice, Spitz retreated from his position to put the breaks on freshman Chris Borland, who certainly would have gotten to the quarterback.

Spitz is currently competing with sophomore Bradie Ewing and senior Mickey Turner for time at the fullback position.

No-Name Boys

Don't judge Wisconsin defensive line yet until you see some of the underrated playmakers the Badgers have at defensive tackle. Everybody has heard of what a solid athlete J.J. Watt has turned into since transferring from Central Michigan. After sitting out last season due to transfer rules, giving him time to transform his mind and body into a lineman, Watt's physicality and speed allow UW coaches to play him at either tackle or the end position.

Playing the end position, Watt out maneuvered the mammoth Josh Oglesby on the end to register a ‘sack.' In addition to Watt, sophomore Patrick Butrym was frequent in the backfield, getting an upper hand on the offensive line and showed solid speed when he was in pursuit of the quarterback.

Butrym wasn't the only one showing solid pursuit, as Culmer St. Jean was all over the field Friday morning. When Zach Brown jumped a run to the outside, St. Jean covered a lot of ground, coming from the mid-hash to make a stop by the numbers.

Previewing the Badgers

The Big Ten Network was in attendance Friday morning, although the set did not seem too active due to more rain that came during practice (the fourth time this week). The Badger preseason preview is scheduled to air Friday night at 9:00 p.m. central.

Wisconsin returns to the practice field tonight at 7:30 p.m.


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