Nov 19, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Wisconsin Badgers interim head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a play during the fourth quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: 3 Reasons beating Minnesota is SO important

Madison, Wis. – Well, ladies and gents, it’s been a roller-coaster season for Wisconsin football thus far, but it’s finally Axe week. 

Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), who are looking to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Here’s a look at three reasons beating the Minnesota Gophers is so damn important…

Wisconsin football vs. Minnesota is CFB’s longest-running rivalry game

Every season, Badger fans circle the Minnesota Gophers game on the schedule regardless of circumstance. The Border Battle began back in 1890, and they have played in all but one year since, with the Badgers currently holding a 62-61-8 all-time series advantage.

Tradition matters in college athletics, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many rivalries as cherished as this one. 

Minnesota currently has Paul Bunyan’s Axe

It absolutely pained me to type out that last sentence. PJ Fleck should never, and I mean NEVER, be in possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Since the trophy was created, Wisconsin has compiled a 45-26-3 record in the Border Battle and even held it for 14 straight seasons between 2004-2017.

After last season’s 23-13 defeat at the hands of the Gophers, UW is out for revenge, and despite the disappointing season the Badgers have had, all will be right in the world if the Axe returns to its rightful home in Madison.

The Jim Leonhard situation

Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After last weekend’s fourth-quarter comeback against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, University of Wisconsin brass had officially seen enough.

Several hours after the game, UW posted the Wisconsin football head coaching job – which legally needs to be up for seven days before naming Paul Chryst’s successor (spoiler alert: it’s Jim Leonhard, and it always has been).

Everyone knows Wisconsin AD Chris McIntosh will remove coach Leonhard’s interim tag sometime this weekend. However, there is no arguing that naming him the program’s head coach will be SO much sweeter coming off a victory over Minnesota in the regular season finale.


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MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 01: Assistant coach Jim Leonhard of the Wisconsin Badgers calls out instruction to his defense in the second quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

What Wisconsin Badgers HC Jim Leonhard had to say about the Minnesota Gophers

Madison, Wis. – This weekend, the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), looking to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, host the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale.

College football’s longest-running rivalry began back in 1890, and the Badgers currently hold a 62-61-8 all-time series advantage in the Border Battle. 

Before the two programs face off this weekend, here’s a look at what interim head coach Jim Leonhard had to say about the Gophers and what it means to those involved.

“You just know the records don’t matter. You go in there; it’s going to be a physical game; you have to earn it; you got to take it away. That’s the fun part about rivalries to me; it doesn’t matter. Banged up. Healthy. Struggling. Playing well. You know you go out there and win it; go earn a win. I’ve always respected this program, I don’t like them, right, but I respect them because they have an identity, they know who they are, and they are going to force you to beat them very similar to what we are. It’s going to be a fun experience on Saturday, and we need to get out of there with a win.”

Coach Leonhard’s thoughts on Wisconsin’s loss to Minnesota in 2021

“I think they out physicalled us last year, and they finished. We had the lead going into halftime, and they finished. They made plays in the second half to swing the game and create momentum, and put us on our heels. We couldn’t overcome it. I already mentioned they are okay with shortening the game, playing tough, playing field position, finding ways to create turnovers, and make it a second-half game. We have to dominate the line of scrimmage, which is going to be different this week because it is going to be a slugfest. You have to make plays; you have to make big plays on the perimeter, in the run game, in the pass game, you have to create turnovers; that’s what is going to get it done.”

You can watch coach Leonhard’s entire press conference in the video below:


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MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Football: What to Expect vs. Minnesota in week 13

Wisconsin Football: What to Expect vs. Minnesota in Week 13

The Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) host the Minnesota Gophers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) in the last game of the regular season.  This Saturday will be the 132nd time these two teams have played against each other.  Both teams are out in the running for the Big Ten West, but there is plenty at stake with Paul Bunyan’s Axe.  Wisconsin Football is looking to get the axe back in Madison and bragging rights over their oldest rival.

Here is what to expect…


Offensively

The Badgers will want to run the ball all game.  Braelon Allen left late in the game vs. Nebraska with a right leg injury, but initial indications point to him playing this week.  With all three backs for the Badgers healthy, I expect them to be a part of the game plan.  Minnesota is stingy vs. the run, only giving up 102.5 yards per game.  This will be a game of field position, and the more successful the Badgers can run the ball, the better they will be.

Everyone knows Wisconsin’s identity and game plan regarding the offense, but the passing game has to be better. Minnesota gives up 172.1 yards per game which is fourth in the Big Ten vs. the pass.  Graham Mertz will have to take care of the ball and not force it.  Playing disciplined and patient will be critical to the Badger’s success.

Defensively

Minnesota is one of the top teams in the nation running the ball.  Minnesota’s senior running back Mohamed Ibrahim leads the charge with 1524 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground.  Their game plan is much like the Badgers; they want to run the ball.  Ibrahim is physical and runs with great vision.  The Badgers will have to get after it defensively and not give up anything easy.

The Badgers will be without Nick Herbig in the first half of this game due to the targeting call against Nebraska.  This game will be won in the trenches, and senior Keanu Benton will be called on to lead the way.  Minnesota is not a great passing team, but they protect the quarterback well.  They have only given up ten sacks on the year.  The Badgers need to win early and get them in obvious passing situations.

Conclusion

I expect this game to be anything other than pretty.  The total for the game is only 34.5 points.  Both teams want to run the ball and limit errors.  Though it looks like it won’t be a flashy game, you must love the old-school rivalry. Fueled by hatred and Pual Bunyan’s Axe, expect this to be a good game.


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Oct 8, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; A general view of a Wisconsin Badgers helmet during a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Week 13 Depth Chart + Injury Report For Game Vs. Minnesota

Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin football officially released its two-deep depth chart and injury report ahead of its 12th game vs. the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 13:


Offensive Two-Deep

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Starter: Graham Mertz (RS JR)

Backup: Chase Wolf (RS SR)

Running Back

Starter: Braelon Allen (SO)

Backup: Chez Mellusi (SR)

Fullback

Starter: Jackson Acker (RS FR)

Backup: Riley Nowakowski (RS SO)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Chimere Dike (JR)

Backup: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Skyler Bell (RS FR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)

Tight End

Starter: Hayden Rucci (RS JR)

Backup: Jack Eschenbach (RS SR)

Left Tackle

Starter: Jack Nelson (RS SO)

Backup: Nolan Rucci (RS FR)

Left Guard

Starter: Tanor Bortolini (RS SO)

Backup: Tyler Beach (RS SR)

Center

Starter: Joe Tippmann (RS JR)

Backup: Dylan Barrett (RS SO)

Right Guard

Starter: Trey Wedig (RS SO)

Backup: Michael Furtney (RS SR)

Right Tackle 

Starter: Riley Mahlman (RS FR)

Backup: Trey Wedig (RS SO)


Defensive Two-Deep

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 30: Keeanu Benton #95 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after a fumble recovery during the first half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Defensive End

Starter: Rodas Johnson (RS JR)

Backup: Cade McDonald (RS SO)

Nose Tackle

Starter: Keeanu Benton (SR)

Backup: Gio Paez (RS JR)

Defensive End 

Starter: Isaiah Mullens (RS SR)

Backup: James Thompson Jr. (RS SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: Nick Herbig (JR)

Backup: Kaden Johnson (RS SO)

Inside Linebacker 

Starter: Jordan Turner (RS SO)

Backup: Tatum Grass (RS JR)

Inside Linebacker

Starter: Maema Njongmeta (RS JR)

Backup: Jake Chaney (SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: C.J. Goetz (RS SR)

Backup: Darryl Peterson (RS FR)

Cornerback

Starter: Alexander Smith (RS SR)

Backup: Ricardo Hallman (RS FR)

Cornerback 

Starter: Jay Shaw (RS SR)

Backup: Justin Clark (RS SR)

Nickel Corner

Starter: Cedrick Dort Jr. (RS SR)

Backup: Max Lofy (RS SO)

Strong Safety

Starter: John Torchio (RS SR)

Backup: Titus Toler (RS JR)

Free Safety 

Starter: Kamo’i Latu (RS JR)

Backup: Hunter Wohler (SO)


Special Teams Two-Deep

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers punter Andy Vujnovich (38) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Punter

Starter: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Backup: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Field Goals

Starter: Nate Van Zelst (RS FR)

Backup: Gavin Lahm (FR)

Kickoff

Starter: Jack Van Dyke (JR)

Backup: Gavin Lahm (FR)

Long-Snapper

Starter: Peter Bowden (RS JR)

Backup: Zach Zei (RS FR)

Holder

Starter: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Backup: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Punt Return

Starter: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Backup: Chimere Dike (JR)

Kick Return

Starter: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)


Wisconsin Football Injury Report vs. Minnesota

Players listed as Questionable:

  • N/A

Players listed as OUT:

  • OLB Aaron Witt – Leg (Right)

 Out for the season:

  • CB Al Ashford – Leg (Left)
  • S Travian Blaylock – Leg (Right)
  • TE Clay Cundiff – Leg (Left)
  • DE Mike Jarvis – Leg (Left)
  • TE Cam Large – Leg (Right)
  • ILB Luna Larson – Leg (Right)
  • DE Isaac Townsend – Leg (Left)


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Wisconsin Badgers CB Alexander Smith reveals plans for 2023

The Wisconsin Badgers have received some more excellent news. Yesterday, Chez Mellusi announced he will be returning for the 2023 season. This was huge for the Badgers, as they will hold on to their dynamic duo of Braelon Allen and Mellusi.

Mellusi was not the only senior who will return. In news reported by Zach Heilprin, cornerback Alexander Smith announced he will return for a sixth season.

Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Alexander Smith announces he will return for the 2023 season

Smith’s return is big for the Badgers, as Wisconsin has three senior cornerbacks leaving the program. The 5-foot-11, 183-pound cornerback has appeared in 41 games in his time with the Badgers.

Smith was held out for the beginning of the 2022 season with a hamstring injury, making his first appearance in week seven against Michigan State. Since his return, Smith has logged ten tackles and one pass breakup.

The California native has been a key contributor to Wisconsin’s pass defense in his five years with the program. Since joining UW, Smith has registered 29 tackles, five pass breakups, and one interception. He also made his mark on special teams early in his playing career with a blocked kick in the 2019 season.

As stated previously, the Badgers will lose three senior cornerbacks in 2023. Cornerbacks Jay Shaw, Cedrick Dort, and Justin Clark will play their final game at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday against Minnesota. With Smith announcing his return, he will be the chief CB in 2023.

Smith has been a productive player in his time with the Badgers. Now that he is running it back for a sixth year, he will be a key player to watch on Wisconsin’s defense.

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MADISON, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 17: Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores on a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Jim Leonhard provides injury update on Braelon Allen, plan to manage workload

Jim Leonhard provides injury update on Braelon Allen, plan to manage workload

Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) snuck past the Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-14 on the road Saturday afternoon behind a dominant rushing attack.

The three-headed monster of Braelon Allen, Chez Mellusi, and Isaac Guerendo led the way, carrying the ball 52 times for 239 yards. UW won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 14 minutes.

A word from Wisconsin Badgers head coach, Jim Leonhard

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

After the game, coach Leonhard acknowledged that Allen, his star tailback, has been nursing a left shoulder injury and discussed a plan to manage his workload moving forward.

“We have to be smart with him. We know what he’s going through. If he’s banged up it’s probably not getting better until this thing ends off, so trying to be smart. Having Chez back will be a huge help,” Leonard told reporters.

“Because he’s a warrior, he wants to play, he wants every touch, he doesn’t want to come off the field. Just proud of him, of what he’s going through, but we have to continue to be smart with how we use him, when we use him. And I think that affects how he finishes runs which, for a big back, his style of play, the way he finishes, the punishing style that he has, we want him to do that, but he’s only got so many hits in that body every week right now.”

Thus far, the Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin native has carried the ball 207 times for 1,126 yards (5.4 YPC) and 10 touchdowns. Additionally, he has a career-high 11 catches for 104 yards receiving.

UW is fortunate to have two capable backs behind Allen in Chez Mellusi, who just returned from injury, and Isaac Guerendo, both of which can lighten his workload.


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EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 08: Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a touchdown pass to Chimere Dike #13 (not pictured) against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on October 08, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Good, bad and ugly from Wisconsin Badgers 15-14 win over Nebraska

Good, bad and ugly from Wisconsin Badgers 15-14 win over Nebraska

With a 20-year bowl eligibility steak on the line, the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) completed their first fourth-quarter comeback win since 2018 and defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-14 on the road on Saturday afternoon.

The Badgers defense played incredibly, allowing only 171 total yards of offense (106 passing, 65 rushing) on 3.5 yards per play – making it the first time in over 20 years UW’s defense has allowed under 200 yards of total offense in three consecutive games.

Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from Saturday afternoon’s victory over Nebraska…


The Good: Wisconsin’s run game

For the first time in over a month, the Wisconsin Badgers had their entire stable of running backs at their disposal.

UW’s three-headed monster finished with 239 yards on the ground on 52 carries split between Braelon Allen, Chez Mellusi, and Isaac Guerendo, winning the time-of-possession battle by nearly 14 minutes.

UW leaned on the hogs up front to open up running lanes and wear down the Cornhusker’s defensive line – and they did a damn good job.

The Bad: QB Graham Mertz

Yes, it was windy, and yes, his receivers didn’t do him any favors, but Graham Mertz simply didn’t have it on Saturday.

The Kansas native finished the day completing just 8-of-18 passes for 83 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

There were rumblings about him getting benched in favor of Chase Wolf at halftime, but coach Leonhard ultimately decided to ride it out – a decision that paid off in the end.

To his credit, Mertz made plays when it counted, and he’s also playing in a ton of pain, but you still have to produce.

The Ugly: Mertz 2nd quarter INT

Wisconsin’s offense struggled mightily in the first half, so it was critical that they not beat themselves.

With 10:28 remaining in the second quarter, Mertz rolled out and underthrew his intended target, Skyler Bell, by nearly four yards, leading to an interception by Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers would capitalize on UW gifting them a short field, punching in a touchdown eight plays later to take a 7-0 lead into the half.


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Sep 21, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; A Wisconsin Badgers helmet sits on the sidelines during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Twitter reacts to Wisconsin Badgers comeback win over Nebraska

Twitter reacts to Wisconsin Badgers comeback win over Nebraska

The Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) trailed for the first 59:25 seconds of their Week 12 matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but that didn’t stop Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and company from securing the dub.

In a must-win contest, UW went on the road and defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-14 in front of a sell-out crowd (not really, it’s just a lie the Huskers like to tell themselves), keeping the Freedom Trophy in the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers – just like it has been since 2014.

UW has now won nine straight meetings against Nebraska and, with today’s win, is now bowl eligible for the 21st consecutive season – extending the nation’s third-longest active bowl streak.

The Badger’s defense came to play yet again, allowing only 171 total yards of offense (106 passing, 65 rushing) on 3.5 yards per play – making it the first time in over 20 years UW’s defense has allowed under 200 yards of total offense in three consecutive games.

I’ll admit, I didn’t think there was any way in hell UW, at least in its current state, would score twice in the fourth quarter. That said, I couldn’t be happier to admit I was wrong. The offense scored two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to give the Badgers their first fourth-quarter comeback win since 2018.

How did Wisconsin football Twitter react to the comeback win? Here is a look at some of those takeaways:


Former Badgers RB James White

Badgers are bowl eligible for the 21st consecutive season

Wisconsin Badgers junior OLB Nick Herbig

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers game recap: Everything we know


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Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers game recap: Everything we know

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers game recap: Everything we know

Despite trailing until the final 35 seconds of the game, Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) went on the road in a must-win contest and defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-14, keeping the Freedom Trophy in the only home its ever known – in Madison.

UW has now won nine straight meetings against Nebraska and, with today’s win, is now bowl eligible for the 21st consecutive season – extending the nation’s third-longest active bowl streak.

The Badger’s defense came to play yet again, allowing only 171 total yards of offense (106 passing, 65 rushing) on 3.5 yards per play – making it the first time in over 20 years UW’s defense has allowed under 200 yards of total offense in three consecutive games.

To say they’ve figured things out would be an understatement.

Wisconsin’s offense did just enough on Saturday, scoring two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to give the Badgers their first fourth-quarter comeback win since 2018.

Here’s a recap of Wisconsin’s road victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers:


Key to the game: Wisconsin leaned on the run game

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On a day when quarterback Graham Mertz simply didn’t have it, UW leaned on the hogs up front to open up running lanes and wear down the Cornhusker’s defensive line.

In doing so, Wisconsin finished with 239 yards on the ground on 52 carries split between their top three backs, winning the time-of-possession battle by nearly 14 minutes.

The return of Chez Mellusi made all the difference on Saturday, carrying the ball 21 times for 98 yards and allowing UW to spell Braleon Allen, who is clearly playing hurt. Senior running back Isaac Guerendo also earned carries and made arguably the biggest play of the game…but we’ll get to that.


It was over when…

On UW’s final drive of the game, with 1:35 to play, Graham Mertz moved outside the pocket and made a beautiful throw across his body to Isaac Guerendo for a 27-yard gain that set up a 1st and goal from the Nebraska seven-yard line.

Three plays later, Jim Leonhard dialed up a QB sneak on third and goal from the two-yard line that caught Nebraksa off-guard and ended up being the proverbial dagger.


Game balls

OLB C.J. Goetz: There aren’t many players who’ve had a better month and a half for Wisconsin than C.J. Goetz. Against Nebraska, he continued wreaking havoc, registering seven tackles, 2.5 TFL, and a pass breakup.

NT Keeanu Benton: Although he’s been knicked up for the better part of the season, I thought Keeanu Benton was a force against the Cornhuskers – finishing the game with four tackles, 2 TFLs, and a sack. When UW’s star nose tackle dominates, so does the Badger’s defense.

RB Chez Mellusi: Despite missing the past six games, Chez Mellusi picked up right where he left off, carrying the ball 21 times for 98 yards and running with some intention. Come to think of it, I can’t remember a single run where he didn’t fall forward. He will play a significant role next week against Minnesota – it was great to get him back.


What’s next

The Wisconsin Badgers (6-5) return home next weekend, playing PJ Fleck and the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4) for the Axe at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, November 26.


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Aug 31, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers helmets sit on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 45-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football loses a pair of 2023 commitments

Wisconsin Football: Badgers lose a pair of 2023 commitments

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin football program has been in limbo since the firing of head coach Paul Chryst. And with the early signing period roughly a month away, it’s only fair for recruits to want answers about who the program’s leader will be moving forward with their respective futures hanging in the balance. 

After losing three-star wide receiver commit Trech Kekahuna two weeks ago, the Wisconsin Badgers suffered another pair of de-commitments on Thursday. The first was three-star Marist High School standout Jamel Howard. 

Per the 247Sports Composite, Howard is the No. 1,227 overall prospect in the 2023 recruiting class, the No. 132 DL in the country, and the No. 25 player in Illinois.

The 6-foot-3, 320-pound NT initially chose Wisconsin over offers from Akron, Ball State, Central Michigan, Illinois, Iowa State, Kent State, Long Island, Miami (OH), Michigan, Nebraska, Toledo, and Western Michigan.

The rough day for Wisconsin football continues…

Shortly after that, Wisconsin football received its second gut punch of the afternoon when 2023 three-star wide receiver Collin Dixon announced he was de-committing from UW and reopening his recruitment as well. 

Per 247sports Composite, Dixon is the No. 916 overall prospect in the 2023 recruiting class, the No. 71 ATH in the country, and the No. 27 player in Ohio.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound WR committed to Wisconsin over offers from Akron, Ball State, Buffalo, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Marshall, Pittsburgh, Purdue, and several others.

UW, who was expected to take two pass-catchers, no longer has a WR commit in the 2023 recruiting cycle.

What it means…

Although Jim Leonhard is the presumed favorite to assume the full-time role, nobody knows better than the interim head coach himself that asking for patience from these young men is tricky with so much uncertainty. 

“I think, hopefully, within the near future, there’s an answer because the longer it takes, the harder it gets to ask people to be patient because there’s huge deadlines coming up with your current roster and decisions they may have to make, recruits and signing day, the transfer portal thing is starting to get closer and closer,” coach Leonhard said. “So the longer it takes, the harder it becomes to ask for that patience. And everyone involved, I think, knows that.”

These things, while disappointing, shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, considering the unresolved head coaching situation.

I can assure you that one recruiting class, especially one that isn’t widely considered a home run, won’t cripple the program.

Between the transfer portal and poaching season, UW can find adequate replacements that will fit what the Badgers want to do moving forward. It’s also important to note that if Jim Leonhard gets the job, we have yet to learn his vision for the program from a schematic or recruiting standpoint.

A disappointing day, yes. But the University of Wisconsin will endure. Losing recruits was always possible with the head coaching situation in flux; I’m just shocked it took this long.

Back to crootin’.


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