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Wisconsin Football Coaches Surprised by Badgers Returning Talent at This Position



Wisconsin football head coach Luke Fickell
Apr 11, 2023; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, left, talks with head coach Luke Fickell during practice Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

When Luke Fickell took over as head coach of the Wisconsin football program, he wasted little time bringing one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators, Phil Longo, to change the Badgers identity on that side of the ball. 

To do that, they’d need an influx of talent at skill positions, and utilizing the transfer portal was the quickest way to make that happen. 

Despite UW returning their top three pass catchers, Chimere Dike, Skyler Bell, and Keontez Lewis, the new coaching staff prioritized bringing in some bodies to compete. 

Those new players were Cincinnati transfers Will Pauling and Quincy Burroughs, plus Oklahoma State standout Bryson Green and former five-star pass-catcher CJ Williams from USC. 

“We added four (transfers), which we needed to add because they were only carrying seven to eight scholarship receivers, and you want 11 or 12,” Longo said, discussing the previous state of the Wisconsin football WR room. “It becomes a war of attrition with all these routes that we run. You’ve got to run them in practice every day.

“When you’re doing it with seven or eight people, you’re wearing people out. To have 11 or 12 gives you a chance to keep receivers fresh. And now you’re training the next tier of guys, the next era of receivers, the younger guys, so when they get an opportunity, it’s old news for them.”

But Wisconsin Football Had More in the Cupboards Than Anticipated

Even with the new additions to the Wisconsin football program, the coaching staff couldn’t help but come away surprised with the talent already in-house. 

“The other surprise,” Longo said, “is there’s more existing talent here at wide receiver than anyone gave them credit for.”

Anyone who watched Dike, Bell, and Lewis last season saw flashes of a group that could make plays in the passing game. But inconsistent quarterback play and, at times, uneven blocking from the offensive line held the offense back. 

Now, with a loaded room of pass catchers, the Wisconsin football team can open things up and spread the ball around to a group that features several unique skill sets. 

This group might be the best wide receiver room the Badgers have had during my fandom. 

Wisconsin Football Has a Secret Weapon That Nobody Is Talking About

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