Connect with us


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?



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.

Jake Maier is the managing editor and publisher at He has provided coaching and editorial support to numerous writers in his role, contributing significantly to the platform's growth. His expertise extends to Wisconsin Badgers football, basketball, and recruiting coverage. Jake's previous bylines can be found at Fansided and Wisconsin Sports Heroics.