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Why Will Pauling Could Be Wisconsin’s WR1 in 2023

Redshirt sophomore Will Pauling is looking at a potential breakout year, but can he be Wisconsin’s WR1?

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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

Gone are the days of run, run, pass offense for the Wisconsin football program. 

Phil Longo has brought in a reimagined offense in the air raid, something that would give Badger fans of yesteryear a heart attack. 

Of course, with the new style of offense comes a focus on airing the ball out. Luckily, Wisconsin brought in a significant transfer portal addition in Will Pauling, who looks primed to be a potential WR1 for the Badgers in 2023.

Could Will Pauling be the WR1 for the Wisconsin Football Program?

Pauling, who transferred from Cincinnati, shined during spring practice and looked to be one of the most dependable targets in the deep WR room during fall camp in Platteville due to his speed and overall athleticism.

Pauling is looking at a significant workload increase from his redshirt freshman season with the Bearcats. In 2022, the 5-foot-10, 186-pound receiver appeared in nine games and logged 12 catches for 122 yards. Under Phil Longo, who loves the slot receiver position, he should see a significant uptick in production.

“I told my wife, I think the thing I love the most after my wife and my kids are slot receivers,” Longo told reporters. “They are typically one of the most productive positions in the offense.”

Longo has made slot receivers a focal point of his scheme. For example, former North Carolina slot receiver Josh Downs logged over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, finishing his career with 2,483 yards total receiving yards. Downs has a similar skillset to Pauling, a speedy receiver who can take the top off the defense and compete for contested catches. If Pauling continues this upward trend, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be Wisconsin’s WR1 in 2023.

That said, some factors will go against Pauling rising to the top of the pecking order. For starters, Wisconsin is returning its top three wide receivers from the 2022 season, Chimere Dike, Skyler Bell, and Keontez Lewis. Add on multiple transfer additions at the receiver spot, and there will only be so many passes to go around. However, Pauling has shown he’s a dependable option in Wisconsin’s reimagined offense, and his tools speak for themselves. Pair that with Longo’s tendency to make slot receivers a focal point of the offense, and Pauling is looking at a potential breakout year.

Final Thoughts

Pauling has made an immediate impact since coming on board in January. He was one of the quickest stock risers during spring ball and has kept the momentum into fall camp, all but solidifying his spot as the starting slot receiver.

Good things happen for Wisconsin when the ball is in Pauling’s hands. The redshirt sophomore should have a significant impact this season, and with multiple years of remaining eligibility, he could be a long-term difference-maker for the Wisconsin football program.

I’ll say this: don’t be surprised if Pauling is the WR1 this season.


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 football news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter @JakeJMaier.

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Wisconsin Football Team Suffers Devastating Blow on Injury Front

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Wisconsin football; Badgers running back Chez Mellusi suffers devastating injury
Sep 22, 2023; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (1) is taken off the field in a cart after suffering an injury during the second half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin football program has been hit hard by a gut-wrenching twist of fate, with Badgers sixth-year running back Chez Mellusi suffering what appears to be a season-ending injury.

The news has left both the team and fans in shock and has raised questions about the team’s running back depth moving forward.

Mellusi, who returned for a sixth season to make a significant impact on the team, had been a crucial part of the Badgers’ offense. His experience and versatility provided a valuable dimension to the team’s running game, making him a key asset for Head Coach Luke Fickell.

In all likelihood, Mellusi will finish the season with 40 carries for 268 yards (6.7 YPC) and four touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 212-pound tailback also caught two passes for 14 yards.

Wisconsin Football Faces Uncertain Future Without Chez Mellusi

The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of the game, leaving Chez Mellusi visibly shaken, and he was carted off the field, surrounded by his teammates. It was a stark reminder of the physical toll that football can take on even the most dedicated and talented athletes.

While the full extent of Mellusi’s injury hasn’t been disclosed, the ole eye test suggests it could be a season-ending setback. Wisconsin football now has a significant void to fill in their running back rotation.

One of the critical challenges facing Luke Fickell and his coaching staff is finding a suitable replacement for Mellusi. His unique skill set and experience will not be easily replicated, and the team will be forced to rely on converted fullback Jackson Acker and Cade Yacamelli to fill the No. 2 role behind Braelon Allen.

The loss of Mellusi is not just a blow to the team’s on-field performance but also a heartbreak for a player who had worked tirelessly to contribute to the Badgers’ success.

As the Wisconsin football team navigates this challenging period, the focus now shifts to rallying together and finding a way to continue their season on a positive note. The road ahead is undoubtedly more arduous without Mellusi, but adversity has a way of uniting a team and bringing out their best.



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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Wisconsin Football Defeats Purdue: Here’s What Stood Out

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Wisconsin football; Badgers QB Tanner Mordecai and Bryson Green
Sep 22, 2023; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) celebrates with Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Bryson Green (9) after running for a touchdown during the first half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

In their Big Ten opener at Ross-Ade Stadium, Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin football program (3-1, 1-0 B1G) secured a 38-17 victory over Purdue (1-3, 0-1 B1G), extending the Badgers winning streak against the Boilermakers to an unprecedented 17 consecutive games.

Here are a few things that stood out from the Wisconsin Badgers week four victory over Ryan Walters and the Purdue Boilermakers. 

Wisconsin Football Utilized Tanner Mordecai as a Dual-Threat QB on Friday Night

Wisconsin football needed to get off to a fast start after three consecutive subpar first-half performances, and the Badgers offense answered by jumping out to a 14-0 start behind the legs of quarterback Tanner Mordecai

He finished the game with 14 carries, amassing 58 yards and scoring twice on the ground while also completing 63% of his passes for 174 yards & one interception.

While Mordecai’s performance wasn’t flawless, his ability to create plays with his legs did help create running opportunities for Braelon Allen. As a result, Allen carried the ball 16 times, racking up 116 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

This new dynamic clearly caught Purdue off guard and played a crucial role in providing the much-needed quick start for the Wisconsin football offense.

Wisconsin Football Just Became Real Thin at Running Back

Chez Mellusi‘s return for a sixth season has had a significant impact on the Badger offense.

Thriving in Phil Longo’s system, Mellusi entered the game as Wisconsin’s leading rusher. Unfortunately, he sustained what appeared to be a significant injury in the fourth quarter, likely marking the end of his collegiate career.

With Mellusi out of the picture, Wisconsin football will now turn to converted fullback Jackson Acker and presumably Cade Yacamelli to fill the No. 2 role behind Braelon Allen.  

Due to Allen’s injury history, the new coaching staff intended to restrict his number of carries to safeguard his health. Now, Luke Fickell must determine whether they are still willing to adhere to this plan without a 1B tailback at his disposal.

This is a difficult situation for Wisconsin football in general, but it’s especially tough for Mellusi personally. I hope he makes a full recovery because it’s always disheartening to witness a player’s college career conclude in such a manner.

Prayers up. 

Other Wisconsin Badgers Musings 

Jack Nelson had another brutal game with at least three penalties. I’m not sure what’s going on right now — but I’m shocked at how poor and undisciplined the Stoughton native has been through four games. 

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Wisconsin football found themselves a kicker. Nathaniel Vakos is now 7-for-7 on the season, and it looks like he’s the best placekicking option the Badgers have had since Rafael Gaglianone.

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CJ Williams put together the best game of his Badgers career — which was great to see — finishing with five catches for 56 yards. It was an encouraging sign for the passing attack moving forward. 

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The University of Wisconsin football program might not have a terrific defensive line this year — but James Thompson Jr. is most definitely a dude for the Badgers. He finished with six tackles, 2.0 TFLs, a sack, plus a pass-breakup. 

Wisconsin Football Team Suffers Devastating Blow on Injury Front



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Disgruntled Wisconsin Football Fan Groans Over “Modern Music”

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Wisconsin Badgers football
Oct 25, 2014; Madison, WI, USA; The Wisconsin logo at midfield of Camp Randall Stadium following the game between the Maryland Terrapins and Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin won 52-7. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This summer, Wisconsin Athletics hired an independent consultant to enhance the game day experience at Camp Randall Stadium. There were noticeable changes when Wisconsin Badgers football took the field to begin a new era under head coach Luke Fickell.

The pre-game video no longer features “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2. Other music choices at Badgers football games have, apparently, ground the gears of at least one fan.

Wisconsin Football Fan Writes Letter to the Editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: There Is No Need for ‘Modern Music’ Blaring at Badgers Games

It all started with some Wisconsin football fans complaining about the volume of music. In a letter to the editor published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one fan expressed displeasure with the songs themselves. The complaint over “‘modern music'” is written throughout, despite failing to define what that means.

Although I have a suspicion about what is left unsaid by (heavy quotes) “modern music,” I will take it at face value.

Wisconsin Basketball Fans React: Badgers Miss on 5-Star Recruit

I have been to more Wisconsin football games than I care to count. Truthfully, I am unsure what the complaint here is about. Is the occasional playing of “Fireflies” by Owl City (released 14 years ago in 2009) too “modern?” What about when the tradition of “Jump Around” began in 1998 when the song was a mere six years from its release? I would hope that writer Daniel Edelstein voiced his displeasure then.

Wisconsin Football Should Reject Modernity, Embrace Tradition

Our dear writer admits that “several generations of spectators’ tastes occur at the stadium” but seemingly casts this caveat aside. After ensuring those darn kids stay off the lawn, they argue, “a University of Wisconsin-Madison game is and should be a special experience — one that is different than the ordinary world.” Apparently, music from the 2000s and beyond is for the mere mortals. True enlightenment exists only in the form of songs by Neil Diamond and The Foundations.

I cannot imagine the response by this fan to Wisconsin football hiring offensive coordinator Phil Longo and implementing the Air Raid. I am certain the invention of the forward pass itself was blasphemous. Embrace tradition – run the damn ball.

All of this begs the question, where does tradition come from? Tradition is not established without it being done the first time. Frankly, I struggle to think of a tradition more human than blaring out the lyrics to the most popular song of the year in a crowded basement, bar, or football stadium.

University of Wisconsin Football Is for University of Wisconsin Students

Every player that suits up for Wisconsin football is a University of Wisconsin student. With an influx of television money, name-image-and-likeness endorsements, and a facilities arms race making college football a tradition more and more for the elite class every day, why can students not have one thing?

Wisconsin Football Fans React: Badgers Defeat Georgia Southern

Spending 28-ish Saturdays making unforgettable memories with friends. Finding camaraderie with their fellow students on the field singing “Mo Bamba” or “Paint the Town Red” should be celebrated. Regardless of which song it is, that event, that special moment when you see all of sections K through J singing as one – that is tradition.

I am not one to tell you how to fan. I will tell you, however, that you do not gain respect in my eyes by complaining that an event that only exists because of the labor of young people, spectated by young people, and is slowly getting stripped away from young people, is too oriented towards those young people.



Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, and Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here. Like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinions, and analysis. You can also follow Kedrick Stumbris on Twitter @KedrickStumbris.

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