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Thoughts on the Wisconsin Football Center Spot & Poor Snaps

These are my two cents on Wisconsin football & the Badgers center position.



Wisconsin football; Badgers center Tanor Bortolini
Wisconsin offensive lineman Tanor Bortolini (63) blocks Rutgers defensive lineman Mayan Ahanotu (92) during the second quarter of their game Saturday, October 7, 2023 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin.

When the University of Wisconsin football team transitioned to the air raid offensive scheme in the offseason, the Badgers understood the importance of having a dependable center for the shotgun formation.

With Joe Tippmann off to the NFL, Wisconsin’s coaching staff prioritized bringing in Cincinnati transfer Jake Renfro from the transfer portal as a potential plug-and-play starter.

But a series of injuries have prevented that vision from coming to life.

Tanor Bortolini — a consensus Honorable mention All-Big Ten player at guard last season — was asked to shift inside during spring practice and has been the No. 1 center ever since — to varying degrees of success.

Considering the buzz surrounding his performance, particularly his poor snapping, I wanted to share my two cents on the matter.

Wisconsin Football Center Snaps Have Been…Not Great 

I understand the frustration caused by Tanor Bortolini’s slow snaps. It’s one of those things that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. But it’s important to remember that a center’s job involves much more than just snapping the ball.

Bortolini has shown strength in other areas, with Pro Football Focus ranking him as the second-highest-graded pass-blocking lineman on the Badgers (76.6). While he’s been average as a run blocker, it’s clear that Bortolini is a net positive on the offensive line — even though he’s not in his more natural position.

Are the slow and sometimes erratic snaps throwing off the timing of the offense? Only the players in the Wisconsin football locker room know for sure — but conventional wisdom tells us yes.

“Being the center, it’s my job to get Tanner [Mordecai] the ball every time consistently, and it can’t be high, and if I do that, it makes his job harder,” Bortolini said.

That said, any potential change made at center position should consider the balance between better snaps and potential dropoffs in other aspects of the game. Right now, it’s clear that the coaching staff doesn’t see Joe Huber or Dylan Barrett as a better option.

The most probable scenario involves Wisconsin sticking with the current setup and addressing Bortolini’s snapping issues internally, and I’ll elaborate on the reasons behind this choice.

If Healthy, Where Does Jake Renfro Fit Into the Equation?

Ideally, Wisconsin football wants someone who excels in all areas asked of their center. This is where Jake Renfro’s return becomes relevant. There’s growing anticipation for his comeback, as he worked with the Badgers No. 2 offense during pregame warmups against Rutgers.

However, considering the stage of the season the Badgers are in, it’s worthwhile to acknowledge that Renfro might not provide the solution to Wisconsin’s center problem/snapping issues.

While Renfro’s return could potentially shift Bortolini back to his natural position at guard, ensuring the best five players are on the field, there are plenty of reasons to suggest Renfro isn’t the band-aid UW is looking for. 

The former All-AAC first-team center didn’t play throughout last season (injury), missed important reps in spring & fall camp (injury), and he’s yet to demonstrate his capabilities at the Big Ten level. To take it further, Renfro last played meaningful snaps in the 2021 college football playoffs when Luke Fickell was the head coach at Cincinnati. 

Admittedly, I assumed that Jake Renfro would seamlessly rejoin the Wisconsin football starting lineup once healthy, but there’s a growing possibility that it won’t be the case. 

In my opinion, we’ll likely be watching Tanor Bortoloni play center for the foreseeable future — barring injury of course.

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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.