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Pre-Fall Camp Superlatives for the Wisconsin Football Team

Wisconsin football is almost here. Who will be the MVP? Freshman of the Year? Let’s explore.



Wisconsin Football
Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) runs the ball toward the end zone against the Oklahoma State Cowboys as his teammate wide receiver Chimere Dike (13) begins to react during the Guaranteed Rate Bowl Game at Chase Field on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. Ncaa Guaranteed Rate Bowl

We are in a bit of a lull with Wisconsin football news. Camp doesn’t kick off until August 1st when the Badgers travel to UW-Platteville for a week. Recruiting is winding down as the dead period is quickly approaching as well.

There are a lot of unknowns about this team because things are going to be so different from teams in the past. And that’s a good thing. It’s exciting. There’s a ton of buzz around this program right now and fans are buying into it. So while we kill some time until the football season is officially here, let’s look ahead. Who will be the team’s MVP? Freshman of the Year?

Let’s make some predictions.

Most Valuable Player

Braelon Allen; Wisconsin Football

Sep 17, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) carries the football during warmups prior to the game against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

RB Braelon Allen

Some may consider this the ‘easy choice.’ Meanwhile, others may think it’s foolish because Phil Longo is bringing the Air Raid offense to the Wisconsin football team. But I truly think Allen is going to be the most important piece in the offense this year and a huge reason if it is successful.

When Longo came over with the Air Raid, I think a lot of fans were worried Allen would look to transfer because Air Raid and running game don’t generally go hand-in-hand. But Fickell and Longo have both talked about keeping the running game a main focal point of the offense.

Last season, Allen ran into stacked boxes all season long. Because of the sub-par quarterback play, teams were comfortable putting eight or nine guys in the box to stop the run. When he got bottled up, the offense essentially stalled because the passing game was so ineffective last year.

Enter the Air Raid.

If teams want to continue to stack the box against the Badgers, that’s fine. Tanner Mordecai will just pass all over you. If you play a nickel or dime defense to stop the pass, good luck stopping Allen running up the middle. It truly feels like a pick-your-poison situation for the defense. Chez Mellusi is a very capable running back, but if Braelon Allen wasn’t RB1 for the Badgers, I don’t think this offense would be set up to succeed as well as it is this season.

Runner up: Tanner Mordecai

Wisconsin Football Transfer of the Year

Wisconsin Football

Wisconsin quarterback Tanner Mordecai avoids the rush of outside linebacker T.J. Bollers during The Launch, the team’s intra-squad scrimmage at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday April 22, 2023.
Uwgrid Launch April 22 202three

QB Tanner Mordecai

This year, the Wisconsin football team brought in 14 transfer players to the program with the new coaching staff. However, I wouldn’t expect that to be the norm. I would expect Fickell and co. to use the transfer portal as needed in the future. But not to the extent they did this year.

Since the transfer portal isn’t going anywhere, I think a ‘Transfer of the Year’ category will be necessary from now on. This will be a prediction on which player coming in from the transfer portal will make the biggest impact on the Badgers this season.

Unlike the Braelon Allen MVP pick, I think this is a very obvious choice. Quarterbacks almost always have the most impact on a football game. They touch the ball every offensive play. Mordecai was brought in by this staff to lead the Wisconsin football team into their new era with his final year of eligibility left.

He transferred to Wisconsin from SMU, where he spent two years and put up video game numbers. He threw for over 7,000 yards and 72 touchdowns. Those are numbers Wisconsin football fans don’t have a lot of experience with. Granted, he wasn’t playing high-level teams at SMU like he will with Wisconsin. But if he can even be close to that with the Badgers, this offense is going to be very difficult to stop.

I don’t see another incoming transfer making the same impact as Mordecai will this season.

Runner(s) up: C.J. Williams, Bryson Green, Will Pauling, Jason Maitre

Wisconsin Football Freshman of the Year

Wisconsin football CB Amare Snowden

Roseville running back Amare Snowden runs the ball against Eastpointe on Friday, October 9, 2020.

CB Amare Snowden

When I look at the incoming true freshmen, I see a lot of potential. What I don’t see is a clear path for one to make an immediate impact on this team. Especially on offense. There is one position that I feel is relatively open where a freshman could sneak in at some point in the season and make an impact.

That position is cornerback.

Alexander Smith and Ricardo Hallman are probably locked in as the outside corners with Jason Maitre as the nickel. But injuries are an unfortunate part of the game and you need depth in the secondary. The 2023 recruiting class has three cornerbacks/defensive backs. Braedyn Moore, Amare Snowden, and Jonas Duclona. Moore is probably going to get most of his snaps at safety, which is a position that already has a lot of talent and depth.

That leaves Snowden and Duclona.

I think Duclona is going to have a heck of a career with the Wisconsin football team. He even played in the All-America Bowl last winter. But right now, I’m putting my money on Amare Snowden having an earlier impact on the team. He is exactly the type of cornerback the coaching staff is aggressively targeting on the recruiting trail. He’s tall, extremely athletic, and versatile. He’ll have a chance to play all over the field, giving him some chances to get some early playing time.

Runner up: Jonas Duclona

Surprise of the Year

Wisconsin Football WR Will Pauling

Apr 11, 2023; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin wide receiver Will Pauling (19) is shown during practice Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

WR Will Pauling

The coaching staff added a ton of talent at the receiver position via the transfer portal. Some big names like C.J. Williams and Bryson Green headlined the group. But a sophomore receiver named Will Pauling transferred to Wisconsin from Cincinnati too. When he committed, he was just another depth piece that followed Luke Fickell to Madison.

But I think this little-known receiver could very well surprise a lot of Wisconsin football fans this fall when his name is called often.

Pauling got a majority of the slot receiver reps with the first team during spring camp. His name was brought up repeatedly in tweets and post-practice write-ups.

This is significant because if you look back at Phil Longo‘s slot receivers, you’ll see they were a big part of the offense and put up some numbers. When he was at Ole Miss, A.J. Brown played a lot of snaps out of the slot. He had Dazz Newsome and Josh Downs at North Carolina. All three players were integral parts of the offense. Now, I’m not saying Pauling will be as good as those players. But there’s a reason Longo has him in that position.

Fans are enamored by the 4-star transfers, but Pauling is going to surprise a lot of people this year.

Runner up: Darian Varner

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Christian Borman was born and raised in Wisconsin and covers the Badgers football and basketball programs, plus some recruiting for He previously covered the Wisconsin Badgers for years as the site expert for Badger of Honor of the Fansided Network.