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Wisconsin Football Wide Receiver Room Season Outlook & Player Expectations

A quick look at the Wisconsin football wide receiver room heading into fall camp and analyzing their individual expectations for the season.

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Wisconsin football wide receivers Chimere Dike, Skyler Bell, and Keontez Lewis.
Wisconsin wide receiver Keontez Lewis, left, celebrates a touchdown with teammates Chimere Dike, center, and Skyler Bell during a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game against Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

With fall camp just around the corner for new head coach Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin football program — BadgerNotes continues our rollout of position previews. We’ve already done QB and RB thus far. 

But I want our position previews and season outlook write-ups to be different than a regurgitated version of what every outlet is putting out. 

I want to approach this breakdown by establishing individual player expectations heading into the season so we can more effectively evaluate each player at the end of the season—that way, we can avoid being a prisoner of the moment. 

So, let’s review the breakdown of how we define player expectations:

  • No expectations (walk-ons, true freshmen, practice bodies).
  • Low expectations (roster fillers, third team players, next man up situation).
  • Moderate expectations (key backups & role players *how well are you playing the role asked of you).
  • High expectations (core players of the team you expect to make a big impact in their role or statistically). 

Let’s continue our series with the Wisconsin football wide receiver room. 

High Expectations 

  • Chimere Dike (SR)
  • Bryson Green (RS JR)
  • Will Pauling (RS SO)

I’m placing Chimere Dike, Bryson Green, and Will Pauling in our high-expectations group because that’s the trio I anticipate will leave fall camp as the starters and log the most snaps in 2023.

Dike finished last season with 47 catches for 689 yards and six touchdowns en route to honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition. He’s a steady possession receiver that runs good routes and is my pick to be the team’s leader in receiving yards. Dike might not be the highest upside of the bunch — but his game is well-rounded.

Although Green missed spring practice, I still see him as a first-team player on offense. He’s coming off a great season with Oklahoma State, where he caught 36 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns in nine games. Green and Dike should complement each other nicely on the boundary.

Finally, Pauling, the standout WR during spring ball, enters as the favorite to start in the slot and get peppered with targets in Phil Longo’s offense. As a redshirt freshman, he caught 12 passes for 122 yards with Cincinnati but is someone I anticipate will be at or near the top of the leaderboard in catches. Pauling’s shiftiness in the slot will make him a dynamic weapon for Wisconsin football this fall.

To meet expectations, Dike, Green, and Pauling need to lead the Badgers in WR snaps and be the most frequently targeted pass-catchers.

Wisconsin Football WRs With Moderate Expectations

  • CJ Williams (SO)
  • Skyler Bell (RS SO)
  • Keontez Lewis (JR)

In the moderate expectations group, I’ve got the trio of USC transfer CJ Williams, Skyler Bell, and Keontez Lewis, who should all see plenty of snaps for Wisconsin football this fall.

Williams is the one name from this group that could force his way into the first-team offense on the boundary off the pure talent and playmaking ability alone. The former Under Armour All-American appeared in 11 games for USC as a true freshman and caught four passes for 34 yards.

Bell burst onto the scene last fall, giving the Badgers a speedy WR to move around the offense. He finished the season with 30 catches for 444 yards and five touchdowns, adding another 160 yards rushing. He figures to play plenty of snaps in the slot behind Will Pauling, but he’s talented enough to push for more.

Finally, Lewis is a unique blend of size (6-foot-2) and speed on the boundary and might be the best downfield target Wisconsin football has to offer. After transferring in from UCLA, Lewis caught 20 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a shoo-in to see plenty of snaps on the boundary behind the starting group because they’ll be rotating a lot more in the up-tempo offense.

This trio will be in the top six for Wisconsin football regardless of how the depth chart shakes out — but someone from this group could easily jump into the top tier.

To meet expectations, Williams, Bell, and Lewis need to be key backups that see the field weekly on a rotational basis while offering some playmaking ability that allows the top group to get a break without sacrificing quality.

Wisconsin Football WRs With Low Expectations

  • Vinny Anthony (SO)
  • Chris Brooks Jr. (RS FR)
  • Quincy Burroughs (RS FR)
  • Tommy McIntosh (RS FR)

In this low-expectations group, I’m going to lump Vinny Anthony, Chris Brooks Jr., Quincy Burroughs, and Tommy McIntosh.

This grouping has some uniquely talented up-and-coming players that have all flashed at one point or another and could factor into the equation next season.

Anthony has track speed and will likely be the third-team slot WR, and Brooks Jr., Burroughs, and McIntosh are all big-bodied pass-catchers that can be matchup problems with another year of development. If this was still the Paul Chryst administration, odds are two of these guys would be seeing the field this season.

However, the new coaching staff threw a lot more resources at the position this offseason — so there are bound to be a few players that don’t crack the Wisconsin football WR rotation.

I’m sure these players will see the field in some capacity if/when injuries occur or special packages, but it’s unlikely they will break out of this group–and if they do–they’ll have exceeded expectations for 2023.

To meet expectations, Anthony, McIntosh, Burroughs, and Brooks Jr. all need to continue flashing in practice and make the most of any in-game opportunities that come their way — they’re each one injury away from entering the air raid two-deep.

No Expectations 

  • Haakon Anderson (RS JR)
  • Trech Kekahuna (FR)
  • Alex Moeller (RS SO)
  • Cole Toenies (RS FR)
  • Grady O’Neill (RS FR)
  • Cam Fane (RS FR)

I’ll keep this column short and sweet — the players mentioned above are all walk-ons, other than incoming freshman Trech Kekahuna, and given the influx of talent and bodies at wide receiver, I don’t see anyone from this list seeing the field beyond special teams (not a knock).

To meet expectations, the walk-ons must continue putting in the work, be assigned sound, and improve the players around them in practice. For Kekahuna, it would be great to hear some encouraging reports from fall camp that suggest he could push for a spot in the two-deep next season.


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.

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Football

Wisconsin Football Week 5 Stock Report: Bye Week Blues

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Wisconsin Badgers football
Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers logo on a flag prior to the game against the Washington State Cougars at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers football team enters their bye week with a 3-1 overall record. I’m sure many fans hoped and expected the Badgers to be 4-0 heading into the bye, but 3-1 is still a pretty good start. With a victory over Purdue last Friday, the Badgers are already 1/5 of the way to being bowl-eligible, so there’s that too.

Here is the Week 5 BadgerNotes Stock Report.

Wisconsin Football Stock Report: Stock Up

Wisconsin’s Standing in the Big Ten West

We are just getting into conference play and the Wisconsin football team is already at the top of the standings. They are currently the only team in the west division that doesn’t have a conference loss.

The Gophers lost an embarrassing game to the Northwestern Wildcats in overtime after being up 31-10 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.

Nebraska lost to Minnesota in Week 1.

Iowa just got destroyed by Penn State last week, 31-0.

Purdue lost to Wisconsin last week, dropping their conference record to 0-1.

Now, with the Badgers having a bye this week, there’s a situation where the rest of the West will continue to cannibalize and lose games that will give the Wisconsin football team an even larger lead without even playing a game. Right now, the Badgers are sitting pretty well in the division.

Wisconsin Football Stock Report: Stock Down

Bye Weeks

Boo! Bye weeks suck. Having to wait more than two weeks between Wisconsin football games sucks, especially now that their offense started to get rolling. Now there’s a chance the team could lose the rhythm they worked to get into the past few weeks.

On the positive side, if there are any Wisconsin football players who are banged up, this bye week will give them some time to heal up before they play another game.


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 football news, notes, opinions, and analysis. You can also follow Christian Borman on Twitter @christianborman.

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

*Subscribe to BadgerNotes After Dark on Youtube and wherever you find podcasts, the official Wisconsin Badgers podcast of the Big Banter Sports Network.

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Special Teams: The Unsung Heroes of Wisconsin Football

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Wisconsin Badgers football punter Atticus Bertrams
Wisconsin punter Atticus Bertrams (49) punts for 42 yds during the second quarter of the game against Buffalo on Saturday September 2, 2023 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.

The Wisconsin Badgers football program is headed into the bye week on a high note following a 38-17 win over Purdue. The Badgers had some very apparent struggles throughout the first four games of the season, but there was a lot to like about UW’s performance against the Boilermakers.

It doesn’t get talked about nearly enough, but Wisconsin has had some excellent play from the special teams unit thus far. The excitement around the program was at an all-time high for some of the other phases — and I’m certainly not here to blame anyone for that — but we must give credit where it’s due. Wisconsin has some real promise with its special teams, and they deserve some praise.

Special Teams: The Unsung Heroes of Wisconsin Football

Nathanial Vakos

We need to talk about Nathanial Vakos. The former Ohio transfer has undoubtedly been one of the biggest bright spots for Wisconsin through the first four games of the 2023 season. 

So far, Vakos has nailed all seven field goal attempts and been perfect on extra-point tries. After his performance against Purdue, where he went 3-for-3 on field goal opportunities and hit three extra point attempts, Vakos earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Against Washington State, Vakos also hit all three of his field goal attempts, with his longest coming in at 49 yards, which remains his longest field goal of the season.

Having a kicker of Vakos’ caliber is a blessing that can’t be understated. While he may not get the most attention due to his role on the special teams, he certainly deserves his flowers for how he has fared through the first four weeks of the 2023 season.

Atticus Bertrams

Another player who doesn’t get enough recognition is Atticus Bertrams. The freshman has quietly put together a solid 2023 season thus far. Through four games, the Australia native has punted 16 times for an average of 42.5 yards per punt. On top of that, Bertrams has only had one punt returned. Last week against Purdue, Bertrams had just two punts, but his longest boot came in at 60 yards, his longest of the season. 

Although he is an unheralded member of the special teams, the freshman has been impressive, considering he never punted in a game before the 2023 season. His marks aren’t the most impressive, but there is a solid foundation for the Australian native. 

Wisconsin Football WR/Returner Chimere Dike

Though Vakos has been the most impressive player on the special teams — in my opinion — Chimere Dike has done an excellent job on return opportunities. 

Dike was impressive during his performance against Purdue, logging returns for 39 and 34 yards. With those marks, Dike is now second in the Big Ten on punt returns, with an average of 9.6 yards per return. On top of that, he’s fourth in the conference on kickoff returns, logging an average of 32 yards per return. 

The senior receiver has undoubtedly been one of the biggest bright spots for the Wisconsin football program early in their 2023 campaign. You’d love to see him break off one of his returns for six, and that certainly isn’t out of the question with his skillset. 

The special teams unit has played a big role to start the season, and their contributions will continue to be crucial as the season chugs along. 

As it stands, the Wisconsin Badgers football team is 3-1 heading into the bye week. UW will take on Rutgers on October 7th in Madison as both teams look to improve to 4-1.


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

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Wisconsin Football Named a Recruiting Finalist for NFL Pro Bowler’s Son

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Wisconsin Badgers Football head coach Luke Fickell
Sep 16, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell prior to the game against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin Badgers football team received some good news on the recruiting front Tuesday evening. The coveted Eugene Hilton Jr., a promising 2025 wide receiver hailing from Zionsville, Indiana, made a significant move by narrowing his list of potential schools to six, and the Badgers proudly found their place among them.

As Hilton Jr. looks ahead to his collegiate journey, he’ll weigh his options between a few notable programs. The final six schools in his consideration are Ole Miss, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida International University (FIU), Miami, and our very own University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Football Recruiting Still in the Mix for Son of an NFL Pro Bowler

According to the industry-generated composite recruiting rankings, Eugene Hilton Jr. is the No. 393 player in the 2025 cycle, the No. 55 WR, and the No. 4 recruit to hail from Indiana.

Currently, Hilton is considered a three-star recruit and one of the top 2025 pass-catching prospects in the Midwest — and the Badgers would be happy to add him to a verbal commits list that already includes quarterback Landyn Locke and defensive back Remington Moss.

Now, if the name Hilton sounds a tad familiar to Wisconsin football fans, you’re spot on. This dynamic young talent happens to be the offspring of none other than former NFL pro-bowler T.Y. Hilton. During his illustrious NFL career, the elder Hilton made a name for himself with the Indianapolis Colts and the Dallas Cowboys.

With the Badgers making the cut in Hilton Jr.’s selection process, it’s a testament to the allure and potential of Wisconsin football & its ability to attract new talent because of their air raid offense.

As the recruiting process unfolds, all eyes will be on Eugene Hilton Jr. as he evaluates his options. While the path to securing his commitment may be winding, one thing is clear: Wisconsin Badgers football is very much in the running for the talented young wideout.



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.

Follow this link and use promo code: BADGERNOTES for 25% off your next True Classic order.

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

*Subscribe to BadgerNotes After Dark on Youtube and wherever you find podcasts, the official Wisconsin Badgers podcast of the Big Banter Sports Network.

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