Connect with us


Wisconsin Football Stock Up, Stock Down From Spring Practice



Wisconsin Badgers football head coach Luke Fickell
Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell watches defensive end Tommy Brunner go though a drill during the team's first spring practice on Saturday March 25, 2023 at the McClain Center in Madison, Wis. Uw Football Spring Practice 5 March 25 2023

Madison, Wis. – Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin football program are halfway through spring practice, and there have already been some noteworthy developments. 

The early returns have been promising, with a healthy blend of returning players, transfer portal additions, and young talents beginning to make a name for themselves under the new regime. 

Here’s a look at a few players who have improved or hurt their stock early in spring practice. 

Stock Up: Quarterback; Braedyn Locke

Mississippi State transfer Braedyn Locke has quickly emerged and established himself as the QB2 in a room loaded with talent. 

“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, most importantly, has a good understanding of the playbook. 

There is a long way to go between now and the season opener, but the Texas native appears to be in the driver’s seat to become Tanner Mordecai’s backup in 2023. 

Stock Up: Wide Receiver; Will Pauling

One of the lesser-known offseason commodities, wide receiver Will Pauling was the first Cincinnati Bearcat to follow Luke Fickell to the Wisconsin football program via the transfer portal. 

But anyone who has followed the Badgers during spring practice knows he is quickly making a name for himself in Phil Longo’s spread offense. 

The 5-foot-10, 186-pound WR appeared in nine games at Cincinnati this past season, played 92 snaps, saw 23 targets, and caught 12 passes for 122 yards (9.8 Y/REC) with a 13.7 ADOT. 

Now, the redshirt sophomore is fully healthy and quickly becoming a favorite target of Wisconsin quarterbacks. Pauling has earned reps as the No. 1 slot receiver, nudging out Skyler Bell from the first-team offense. 

His quick burst, route-running prowess/change of direction, and impressive hands could make him a dangerous weapon for Wisconsin’s offense this fall. 

Stock Up: Cornerback; Ricardo Hallman 

After an uneven redshirt freshman season where he played 341 snaps, Ricardo Hallman appears ready to become a fixture on the boundary for the Wisconsin football program in year three. 

This past season, the 5-foot-10 defensive back registered 9.0 tackles, 3.0 pass deflections, and one interception while playing boundary corner.

It’s also worth noting that Hallman only allowed a 41.4 REC% — giving up 12 catches on 29 targets, per PFF.

Entering 2023, he’s spent each spring practice opposite Alexander Smith. UW may add another defensive back because they want more experience, which eats into Hallman’s playing time, but the reports out of spring practice have been highly encouraging.

Wisconsin Football Has a Few Players That Have Hurt Their Stock as Well…

Stock Down: Quarterback; Nick Evers

The first significant offseason addition was Wisconsin landing adding Oklahoma transfer Nick Evers. The Texas native has four years of eligibility remaining and is arguably the highest-ceiling signal caller on the Badgers roster. 

That said, the former four-star quarterback has yet to establish himself this spring.

Although he, Myles Burkett, and walk-on Marshall Howe have taken turns rotating in, Evers has yet to take the reigns as the unquestioned third-team QB. He was slower picking the offense up out of the gate, but someone close to the situation shared with me that he’s feeling much more confident and is quickly ramping things up.

There is so much time left that it’s not worth worrying about at this point, but it’s certainly interesting that, for some reason, he’s not pushing for more snaps. 

If Evers is still this far behind come fall camp, then we’ll start to wonder. 

Stock Down: Nose Tackle; Gio Paez

Losing a star nose tackle like Keeanu Benton to the NFL would leave a hole in the middle of any defense. But if the early returns in spring practice are any indication, Mike Tressel doesn’t feel strongly about UW having someone ready to take on that role. 

Paez, a 6-foot-3, 316-pound DL, is the most experienced option on the Wisconsin football roster. The redshirt senior appeared in 10 games last season, played 165 snaps, and recorded 12 tackles, three pressures, and one TFL. 

Coach Tressel wants to be multiple on defense; that’s no secret. But he’s tried to play more 2-4-5 and 2-3-6 defensive fronts, which means UW might not have the horses at nose tackle to play a more traditional base 3-4. 

Stock Down: Outside Linebacker; Kaden Johnson

Kaden Johnson gained some valuable experience, playing 99 snaps last season behind Nick Herbig. He finished with 15 tackles and six pressures and flashed the athleticism necessary to make an impact if the Minnesota native puts it all together. 

Now, it’s fair to wonder if he’s falling out of favor this spring because he’s reportedly behind CJ Goetz, Darryl Peterson, presumably Jeff Pietrowski, and even TJ Bollers. 

I would never write someone off this early because anything can happen in fall camp. But this is definitely someone that needs to start turning projection into production. 

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games by following this link.

*Subscribe to Locked on Badgers on Youtube and wherever you find podcasts, the only daily Wisconsin Badgers podcast on the internet.

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.