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Wisconsin Football News, Notes From First Week of Spring Practice



Wisconsin Football; Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai
Wisconsin quarterback Tanner Mordecai throws a pass during first spring football practice of the season on Saturday March 25, 2023 at the McClain Center in Madison, Wis. Uw Football Spring Practice 9 March 25 2023

The Luke Fickell era is officially underway, and the Wisconsin football team just wrapped up week one of spring practice. 

Madison, Wis. – University of Wisconsin football coaches and players have been hard at work installing their new offensive and defensive schemes this spring to lay the foundation for what’s to come in 2023. 

Here’s a quick recap, with a few buttoned-up observations that UW media outlets have conveyed from the first week of practice sessions available to reporters.

Wisconsin Badgers QB2 Job Hasn’t Been Much of a Competition

The Wisconsin Badgers rebuilt quarterback room has understandably garnered plenty of attention this offseason. And I can only speak for myself, but seeing how the pecking order shook out in spring practice was at the top of my list of things I was watching for.

It’s way too early to draw any conclusions, but there hasn’t been much competition for the QB2 spot at all thus far.

Since Zach Heilprin reported that Tanner Mordecai took all the first-team reps during the first spring practice, as expected, it’s been Mississippi State transfer Braedyn Locke taking all the second-team snaps for the Badgers offense.

“I think Braedyn, as much as anything, has a great grasp of the offense,” Fickell told UW reporters. “He’s a guy that tirelessly studies it. He’s a really intelligent kid that’s picked it up and has really worked at understanding and grasping the whole concept of what we’re doing.”

It’s not shocking that Locke has impressed UW’s coaching staff. The 6-foot-1 signal-caller is fundamental, known for his accuracy, and spends time off the field studying the playbook.

What is surprising is the gap between him and redshirt freshman Nick Evers, who has split work with Myles Burkett and walk-on Marshall Howe.

Luke Fickell’s comments seemed pointed, but that’s just my two cents.

Wisconsin Football Has Myriad Options at Wide Receiver

In years past, Wisconsin football has produced rather lackluster wide receiver rooms with very few actual weapons. 

That could all change in 2023. UW went portaling and came out with four new weapons to help give the offense a facelift while transitioning offensive schemes. 

Throughout the early portions of spring practice, UW has stuck with their top three pass-catchers from last season: Chimere Dike, Skyler Bell, and Keontez Lewis. 

Now, Cincinnati transfer Will Pauling has begun forcing his way into the top unit from the slot, and former five-star recruit CJ Williams has started to flash his potential with the second-team offense. 

Let’s also remember that Oklahoma State transfer Bryson Green has been limited during practice and has yet to have the chance to establish himself. 

Wisconsin could legitimately go six WRs deep this season and still have additional players working their way up the pipeline (Chris Brooks Jr.). 

Exciting times. 

Other Wisconsin Football Notes

Wisconsin’s competition for the RB3 spot hasn’t been as fun to follow as I might have anticipated…because nobody has been healthy. 

Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi are UW’s unquestioned 1, 2 punch at running back. However, the third spot is wide open, with no proven options waiting in the wings to claim it. 

With Jackson Acker (my pick for the spot) missing some time with an injury, it opened the door for Cade Yacamelli to get the lion’s share of the snaps. 

By all accounts, the redshirt freshman has impressed with his versatility. Yacamelli was notably clocked running over 20 MPH during the Badgers “need for speed” challenges, which caught my attention. With his unique skill set, the 6-foot, 207-pound tailback brings speed, pass-catching ability, and some change of direction ability in the open field. 

“It’s one thing to play with the ball in your hand,” Fickell told reporters. “As we get going into this and into some live situations, I want to see how guys play without the ball in their hand. And I think that’s where guys can separate themselves.”

Spring practice isn’t indicative of an actual pecking order. Still, it’s encouraging to hear that Yacamelli is transitioning smoothly to running back. The Pennsylvania native could give Phil Longo an intriguing weapon in third and long situations. 

Fickell’s comments suggest that Acker might have the leg up for RB3 with his ability to block and do the little things. Again, that’s my read on his comments.

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