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Wisconsin Football’s Weakest Position Groups Heading Into Spring Practice



Wisconsin badgers football tight end Clay Cundiff
Wisconsin Badgers tight end Hayden Rucci (87) and Clay Cundiff (85) yell in excited at quarterback Graham Mertz (5) after throwing a touchdown pass in the second quarter of the game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Camp Randall in Madison, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Wisconsin football program had a lot of work to do this past offseason to get themselves back into contention for a Big Ten title in 2023. 

Thankfully, Athletic Director Chris McIntosh made the splash hire of the offseason- Luke Fickell, setting off a domino effect that reinvigorated the entire Wisconsin Badgers fanbase. 

Following a disappointing 7-6 season, the Badgers still have plenty of work to do when spring practice opens. The first order of business is installing new systems on both sides of the ball and establishing a pecking order (tentative depth chart) ahead of fall camp. 

And while there is undoubtedly more talent on the roster heading into this season, there are still question marks at several key position groups — let’s explore which ones those are. 


Wisconsin football has traditionally gotten good, not great, play from its cornerbacks. Which is about what I’d expect the Badgers to get in 2023. 

After hitting the portal hard last offseason, UW returns just one starting cornerback, Alexander Smith, who thankfully is their CB1 – which is a great starting point. 

However, according to PFF, three of their top four coverage CBs are no longer with the program – leaving plenty of uncertainty heading into 2023. 

Ricardo Hallman (who I like) and Avyonne Jones are the two young returning players that make the most sense to take over on the opposite side – at least on paper. UW also brought in Boston College transfer Jason Maitre to provide some depth and compete with Max Lofy for the nickel spot. 

Given the lack of experience in the cornerback room and the new coaching staff coming in, I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Jonas Duclona or Amare Snowden step into roles from the jump.

Tight End 

Wisconsin football has deployed multiple tight end sets for the past couple of decades, but those days are now a distant memory with the Badgers running Phil Longo’s offense.

UW didn’t add any TEs through the transfer portal, although they kicked the tires on a few options, meaning the Badgers will need a few in-house players to quickly establish themselves once practice begins.

Clay Cundiff is back after another brutal second season-ending injury, and if healthy, he could be an excellent pass-catching option—but health will always be a question mark.

UW also returns plenty of experience at the position, like Jack Eschenbach (401 snaps), who’s back for a sixth season + Hayden Rucci (331 snaps), and Cole Dakovich (70 snaps)—although they’re primarily blocking TEs.

With a new offensive scheme, TE coach Nate Letton will need a couple of young players that are more dynamic to flash in spring ball to help gauge where the TE room’s depth truly lies. 

JT Seagreaves and Jack Pugh are two talented, high-upside options worth watching that are better fitting for this offense.

If certain players don’t separate themselves during spring ball, don’t be surprised to see Wisconsin football go portaling again in search of a plug-and-play TE should the right one become available.

Wisconsin Football has a Huge Hole to Fill at Nose Tackle 

I’ll keep this one short and sweet; nose tackle is a huge question mark for the Wisconsin football program heading into 2023. 

Keeanu Benton was an absolute animal last season (and for his entire career), but he’s off to the NFL now, and that leaves behind a gaping hole with no apparent options to fill it. 

Can redshirt senior Gio Paez, who has flashed on a few occasions, or high-pedigree redshirt freshman Curt Neal step up and fill that void? Or does an incoming freshman like Jamel Howard come in and force his way into the discussion — because you certainly can’t teach 6-foot-3, 320-pounds. 

I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of someone like Isaiah Mullens sliding over to provide some additional depth considering Wisconsin football has far more options deserving of playing time at defensive end. 

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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.