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Does Wisconsin Football Need Another Running Back?



Wisconsin Football running backs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi
Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) and Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) have a laugh as part of Wisconsin Badgers football media day at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

Since taking over the Wisconsin football program in late November, head coach Luke Fickell has been chipping away at a mile-long to-do list.

Fickell spent time evaluating his inherited roster, built a coaching staff, and worked to salvage the 2023 recruiting class while scouring the transfer portal for potential fits.

These tasks are challenging in their own right, but now that the dust has settled and the roster is coming more into focus – it’s apparent that the team still has a few question marks.

Because of that, a reader recently suggested another possibility worth discussing. Should Wisconsin football consider adding a running back through the transfer portal?

What does Wisconsin football currently have at RB?

The Wisconsin football program is pretty top-heavy at running back entering 2023.

Star tailback Braleon Allen announced he’s staying with the program for what will likely be his last year in Madison. Additionally, UW returns RB2 Chez Mellusi – who helps round out one of the nation’s most formidable running back tandems.

Behind Wisconsin’s 1, 2 punch, there are serious question marks. Isaac Guerendo, coming off the best season of his career, entered the transfer portal and landed at Louisville in search of more carries. However, the depth behind him is unproven, to say the least.

In-state product Julius Davis, a once highly regarded recruit, has yet to work his way into the mix for carries during his four seasons at UW. Will the new coaching staff see something the previous regime didn’t? Only time will tell — but I have my doubts.

Wisconsin football is also transitioning fullback Jackson Acker and safety Cade Yacamelli to RB to improve depth at the position. Additionally, UW has walk-ons Brady Schipper and Grover Bortolotti round out the running back room.

Incoming Running Backs

Three-star in-state running back Nate White out of Milwaukee was the only scholarship commit in the 2023 recruiting class. UW initially had two players committed – but the new coaching staff was less enamored with Jaquez Keyes – ultimately leading to him re-opening his recruitment and committing to Wake Forest.

White is a raw talent at tailback with a high ceiling that will need some time to develop. However, he can potentially become a three-down, home-run hitter out of the backfield for the Badgers down the road.

Final Verdict

While I see the argument in Wisconsin football adding a running back via the transfer portal, It doesn’t seem necessary for the Badgers to add another body this season.

UW has the majority of next seasons carries spoken for, with Allen and Mellusi already in the fold. Between Davis, Acker, and Yacamelli, I’m confident Fickell and his coaching staff can get enough production from in-house options for its lightly used RB3 spot.

Having multiple backs to rotate in is essential, so Wisconsin football could certainly consider an addition with an eye on the future if the staff is underwhelmed with UW’s depth.

But the Badgers are already over the 85 allowed scholarships and need to get under by fall camp, so adding another player seems unlikely.

If Luke Fickell opts to roll with what they have next season, the 2024 recruiting class could become an easier sell to incoming recruits. Especially if Braelon Allen leaves early, plenty of carries and early playing time will be up for grabs.

In-state RB Corey Smith will undoubtedly be a high priority, as will several others such as Jordan Marshall and Darrion Dupree — so UW’s staff probably prefers to double down in next year’s class, hoping to add a blue-chip talent to add to the offense.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author and the Owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.