What you need to know ... Only three starters return to the
nation's 14th best scoring offense, but things aren't all that
bad with a typically enormous Badger line led by All-America
tackle Joe Thomas and with underrated quarterback John Stocco back
for his third season as the starter. After that, things are up
in the air with a gigantic group of running backs looking to find a
number one runner to replace Brian Calhoun and a lightning fast
receiving corps with only three catches last year among the top
Passing: John Stocco
197-328, 2,920 yds, 21 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Jamil Walker
18 carries, 96 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Marcus Randle El
1 catch, 29 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Senior OT Joe Thomas
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt
freshman RB P.J. Hill
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Paul Hubbard
Best pro prospect: Thomas
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Thomas, 2) OG Kraig
Urbick, 3) QB John Stocco
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, size
Weakness of the offense:
Running back and receiver experience
Badger quarterbacks have always been accessories to the
running game, but now it's up to John Stocco to use his 25
straight starts of experience to carry the offense until all the
new skill players get their feet wet. He was effective last
year when he had Jonathan Orr, Brandon Williams and Owen Daniels
to throw to, and now he'll have to be calm, cool, and
consistent. Tyler Donovan is a scrambler who needs to grow into
a more consistent passer. 2005's top recruit Dustin Sherer is deep in
the hunt for the number two job, but he has to keep improving to
hold off freshmen Scott Tolzien and Maurice Moore.
The key to the unit: John Stocco has to keep his
completion percentage at around 60% and can't make mistakes.
Tyler Donovan and Dustin Sherer have to be better than they were
Quarterback Rating: 7.5
- John Stocco, Sr. - 197-328, 60%, 2,920 yds, 21 TD, 9
INT, 2 rushing touchdowns
Stocco never got any credit for a strong season. After being along
for the ride in 2004, he turned into a confident passer
showing good command of the offense and surprising efficiency
becoming clutch on third downs. Now he'll have to go from being
a steady producer to the star of the attack with all the new
pieces around him. He struggled throughout spring ball getting
in sync with all his targets, but that should change as time
goes on. However, things might be shaky early on as he underwent
surgery to correct a lingering knee problem and is questionable
for the season opener.
- Tyler Donovan, Jr. - 3-6, 49 yds, 1 TD, 5 carries,
30 yds, 1 TD
A promising backup with a little bit of experience, the junior
brings a mobile element to the offense. While starter John
Stocco struggled with all the new receivers this spring, Donovan
really struggled and never got the passing game going. If he's
playing, the offense changes with Donovan running as much as
- Dustin Sherer, RFr.
The possible future of the Badger passing game, the 6-4 Sherer was one of
the team's top recruits two years ago after throwing 61
touchdown passes in his high school career. He's a pro style
quarterback who has come along quick enough to be a serious
challenger for the number two job. Most likely he'll spend this
season getting ready for a 2007 preseason battle with Tyler
Donovan, Scott Tolzien and Maurice Moore for the starting job.
Good luck finding a bigger
running back corps in America with the top three tailbacks
coming out of spring ball averaging 233 pounds a man with
massive fullbacks up front ready to lead the way. There's not a
speed back like Brian Calhoun who can turn the corner on a dime, but P.J. Hill, Jamil Walker and
Dywon Rowan will move the pile. The real excitement comes this
fall when star freshman Lance Smith comes in; don't be shocked
if he takes over the starting job. Chris Pressley appeared to be on the
verge of being one of the nation's better fullbacks, but he
suffered a broken leg and will be out until next year. Backup Bill Rentmeester
was a solid number two man and can be
used as a tailback.
The key to the unit: Use everyone available. There
are so many big backs to work with, the Badger should be able to
wear out defenses.
Running Back Rating: 7.5
- P.J. Hill, RFr.
Hill was the star of spring ball taking over the number one spot
after being buried deep on the depth chart. While he doesn't
have anywhere near the speed of recent Badger backs like Brian
Calhoun and Anthony Davis, he brings more power at 235 pounds
and is quick enough to be effective behind the big line. Even
though he won't catch 53 passes like Calhoun did last year,
he'll be a solid receiver. The key is his health. He suffered a
broken leg last season and had a dinged up neck this spring.
Bill Rentmeester, Soph. - 6 carries, 27 yds,
While not as bright a prospect as Chris Pressley, the 254-pound
sophomore has the talent to be one of the Big Ten's better
running fullbacks and a decent receiver. He's a tailback in a
- Jamil Walker, Jr. - 18 carries, 96 yds, 5.3 ypc, 1 TD, 1 catch,
Expected to be the new star back coming into the season, the
221-pound junior didn't show the flash or production P.J. Hill
was able to this spring. He has the talent to carry the load if
needed, but he'll have to become more productive in fall
practices to get back in the starting mix.
- Dywon Rowan, Sr. - 13 carries, 34 yds, 2.6 ypc, 1 TD
The former walk-on is a big 243-pound power back and appears
ready to be the team's consistent number two back. He's not a
home run hitter by any stretch, so his job will be to carve out
three to five hard yards each carry using his surprising
quickness along with his power. He has the blocking skills
to be used as a fullback if needed.
- Lance Smith, Fr.
Certain to be the speed back in the mix sooner than later, the
star freshman is coming off a
1,850-yard and 20 touchdown
season at Warren High in Ohio. The 190-pound star-in-waiting
won't pack the power of the other Badger backs, but he could
quickly become the main man in the offense.
- Fullback Chris Pressley, Jr. - 3 carries, 5 yds
Expected to be one of the top new stars of the offense, the
268-pound junior became a surprisingly effective runner this
spring able to pound out chunks of yards. Unfortunately, he'll
be out this year after breaking a bone in his leg in summer
Things aren't as bad as they might appear after losing the
top seven pass catchers of last season (if you include the
running backs) and projected number one man Marcus Randle El to
a knee injury. Paul Hubbard and Jarvis Minton
might have only come up with three catches combined last year,
but they form one of the fastest trios the Badgers have had in
recent years. Hubbard has elite, track-star speed and is just
now looking like a top receiver. Incoming freshmen Lance Kendricks and Daven Jones are expected
to push for time. The
tight ends will be a work in progress with 6-7 former
quarterback Sean Lewis a far better receiver than a blocker,
Travis Beckum purely a receiver, and
former linebacker Andy Crooks a few better blocker than a
The key to the unit: Everyone has to stay healthy and
play up to their speed and potential. Patience will be a must
Receiver Rating: 6.5
- Jarvis Minton, Jr. - 1 catch, 16 yds
The 6-1, 202-pound junior has the ability to start in three
receiver sets and grow into the team's best receiver, but he has
to prove he can stay healthy. He injured his foot late last
season and had problems with it throughout this spring.
- Paul Hubbard, Jr. - 1 catch, 4 yds
The UW track
star is one of the team's fastest players and has the size at
6-4 to be a matchup nightmare. He's an elite long and triple
jumper and should eventually be a killer around the goal line.
He'll start out at the outside X position where he should become
the home run hitter who, at times, should be impossible to stay
- Tight end Sean Lewis, Soph.
The former quarterback bulked up to 245 pounds and started to
look like a natural in early practices. He's 6-7 and has the
potential to be an unstoppable receiver because of the matchup
problems he creates, but he's not a strong blocker.
- Marcus Randle El, Jr. - 1 catch, 29 yds, 1 TD
With his off-the-field problems behind him, the little brother
of NFL star Antwaan Randle El appeared to be ready to be the team's
most consistent receiver until a knee injury this summer knocked
him out for the year. He has the hands and the quickness to
be a top target in the slot, but he'll have to wait for next
year. While not as quick as his brother,
he has the same sort of punt return skills.
- Luke Swan, Jr.
Able to play inside or out, the 6-0, 200-pound junior is one of
the team's most versatile receivers. His progress was set back
this spring when he missed several practices hurt. He's a speed
receiver with the potential to be a game-breaker when he gets
the ball on the move.
- Tight end Andy Crooks, Jr.
While still raw, the former linebacker has been tried out at
tight end with great success. He's a big 264-pound blocker who
brings the defensive mentality to the offense, and he showed
surprising hands and route running ability.
- Tight end Travis Beckum, Soph.
One of the team's most interesting prospects, Beckum is a former
defensive lineman with the skills of a wide receiver. His
blocking isn't up to par yet, but he has the hands and speed to
become the starter this fall. At 6-4 and 217 pounds, he's more
like an H-Back than a true tight end.
It's Wisconsin, so take a guess at what the line is like ... big,
bigger, and even bigger averaging over 315 pounds per man. The starting
five should be rock solid even though only two starters return, but
they're good ones in All-America candidates Joe Thomas at left tackle
and Kraig Urbik at guard. Improved pass protection will be important
after allowing 37 sacks, but the emphasis early will be to get the running game
going. The depth is a major
concern waiting for several true freshmen to arrive to bring
up the talent level.
The key to the unit: Stay healthy. This should be a
strong line as long as the starting five has time together to jell;
which it wasn't able to do this spring.
There will be problems if the reserves have to be dipped into early on.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5
- OT Joe Thomas, Sr.
The former defensive end and tight end has grown into a top pro
prospect. Used as a part-time defensive lineman in the Capital One Bowl
win over Auburn, he tore up his ACL killing and possibility of leaving
school a year early. The 6-8, 306-pound senior is expected to be back
later this summer and should be an All-American.
- OG Andy Kemp, Soph.
Kemp has all-star potential with his combination of 6-6, 321-pound size
and strength. He can play either guard spot and could move around. He
started off spring ball at right guard before moving to the left side.
- C Marcus Coleman, Jr.
One of the team's most versatile linemen with the talent to play
anywhere, the 6-6, 314-pound junior has some big shoes to fill replacing
Donovan Raiola in the middle. He struggled in spring ball and will be
one of the most watched players in fall camp.
- OG Kraig Urbik, Soph.
The new star of the line, the 321-pound Urbik started every game at
right tackle and now will move to right guard. He's a technically sound
blocker who'll quickly grow into a top pro prospect after getting a
little experience on the inside.
- OT Eric Vanden Heuvel, Soph.
Back after having problems with a heel injury, the 6-7, 326-pound
sophomore will take over at right tackle after backing up Joe Thomas
last year on the left side.
- OG/OT Danny Kaye, Jr.
Where he ends up playing is up in the air. He's a huge 6-8, 317-pound
blocker who spent spring ball at guard and will start out at left tackle
behind Joe Thomas.
- OG Jeff Stehle, RFr.
The former defensive tackle will move over to the offensive side to
bring a little depth. He's still extremely raw playing behind Andy Kemp
on the left side.
- OG/OT Andre Weininger, Jr.
After practicing at guard for the bowl game, the 6-6, 314-pound junior
will also see time at tackle. He'll start out behind Kraig Urbik at right