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April 21, 2012

Ranking positional concerns

With one week left of spring camp, BadgerBlitz.com ranks Wisconsin's positional concerns from top to bottom heading into the fall.

Spring Camp Areas of Concern
Rank Position The Word Projected Starter(s)
Quarterbacks The sample size hasn't been huge but at the same time, the results haven't been great at quarterback this spring. Joel Stave appears to be slightly ahead of last year's backup, Joe Brennan, Curt Phillips (knee) has been limited and Jon Budmayr (arm) out indefinitely. It's early, but all signs point to Danny O'Brien in 2012. *Danny O'Brien
Special Teams Special teams has flown quietly under the radar this spring but the unit will have to replace its starting punter, kicker and long snapper from 2011. Kyle French has experience at kicker but Drew Meyer is an unknown at punter. James McGuire will likely handle the snapping duties. The Badgers were a bit spoiled last year with seniors controlling all three facets. *Kyle French
*Drew Meyer
*James McGuire
3 Wide Receivers With top target Jared Abbrederis out this spring, a group of unproven wide outs have competed for time. Jeff Duckworth is the elder statesman of the bunch and he's a reliable possession receiver. Behind him, Isaiah Williams, Kenzel Doe, Chase Hammond, Frederick Willis and Marquis Mason have all shown flashes since camp opened. Finding a deep option to stretch the field will be important. *Jared Abbrederis
*Jeff Duckworth
4 Safeties
Shelton Johnson, a starter in 2011, and Dezmen Southward are penciled in with the No. 1 defense. Behind them, question marks exist. Michael Caputo and Michael Trotter are the top two backups but neither has significant playing experience. Walk-ons Darius Feaster and Jerry Ponio provide some depth; Nate Hammon joined the team this spring. *Shelton Johnson
*Dezmen Southward
5 Fullbacks Bradie Ewing left big shoes to fill and Sherard Cadogan and Derek Straus are the only two fullbacks on the spring roster. Cadogan is an athletic option who can catch the ball out of the backfield. He'll dictate playing time with his ability to excel in the run game, however. Look for more two tight ends sets in 2012 based on personnel. *Sherard Cadogan
6 Cornerbacks Devin Smith and Marcus Cromartie could provide a solid tandem during their final season as Badgers. However, both have had up and down careers thus far. Peniel Jean worked as a nickel back in 2011 and could play the same role this season. Devin Gaulden, Darius Hillary and Jameson Wright provide some depth behind the top three. Hillary, in particular, has drawn some praise this spring. *Devin Smith
*Marcus Cromartie
7 Defensive Ends There's plenty of bodies for Charlie Partridge to work with. UW's line coach, however, needs to find a playmaker who can get to the quarterback. David Gilbert could be the top pass rusher, though the junior is still battling a foot injury. Pat Muldoon and Brendan Kelly have been working with the No. 1 unit, while Tyler Dippel, Konrad Zagzebski, James Adeyanju and Jesse Hayes battle for spots in the two-deep. *Brendan Kelly
*Pat Muldoon
8 Offensive Line This unit lost three starters from 2011 but still should be viewed as a strength in 2012. Bret Bielema noted four of the five spots are likely set -- Ricky Wagner at left tackle, Ryan Groy at left guard, Travis Frederick at center and Rob Havenstein at right tackle. The battle to watch next fall will be at right guard, with Casey Dehn, Robert Burge and Kyle Costigan all fighting for time with the No. 1 offense. *Ricky Wagner
*Ryan Groy
*Travis Frederick
*Casey Dehn
*Rob Havenstein
Defensive Tackles Wisconsin really has three starters in Ethan Hemer, Jordan Kohout and Beau Allen, all of whom played a significant role last fall. And for the second year in a row, depth doesn't appear to be an issue with Bryce Gilbert and Warren Herring, a converted end, playing well this spring. Of the five, Allen, a junior, could be poised for a big season. *Ethan Hemer
*Beau Allen
10 Tight Ends The group lost Jake Byrne to graduation but is set to gain in-line tight end Brock DeCicco, who sat out last season after transferring from Pittsburgh. Along with DeCicco, Sam Arneson has looked solid during camp. Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak return at H-back with freshmen Austin Traylor and Austin Maly fighting for time behind the two veterans. *Jacob Pedersen
11 Linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland were the top tacklers last season and are set to lead the defense in 2012. Ethan Armstrong, who is not participating this spring after undergoing hip surgeries, will battle A.J. Fenton, Conor O'Neill and Derek Landisch for the final starting spot on the outside. Marcus Trotter and Derek Watt have provided depth behind Borland in the middle. *Mike Taylor
*Chris Borland
*Ethan Armstrong
12 Running Backs Wisconsin's backfield can stack up against any team in country. Montee Ball will start the season as a Heisman candidate and wrinkles are being added to get more reps for backup James White. Melvin Gordon and Jeffrey Lewis are more than capable of contributing this season, while Vonte Jackson will likely be allowed to redshirt during his first year at UW. *Montee Ball

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