Preseason #12 Wisconsin Badgers Preview

No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers

There are 19 starters from 2007 coming back for Wisconsin in ’08, but not one of them is a quarterback. The only quarterback on the roster with significant experience is senior Allan Evridge, who transferred to Wisconsin from Kansas State after throwing for a Wildcat freshman record 1,365 yards in nine games in 2005. Last year in Madison, Evridge was 5-of-12 while backing up Tyler Donovan.

Evridge will have the top three receivers from last year’s team to work with in tight ends Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham and wide receiver Kyle Jefferson. The All-American Beckum led the team with 75 catches for just under 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.

The deepest position on the team is running back. P.J. Hill is the headliner with 2,805 career rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in only two seasons. He is only the third player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons at a school renowned for running backs. Zach Brown also returns after starting the final four games of ’07 for an injured Hill and was named Big Ten Player of the Week for a 250-yard, two-TD performance against Minnesota. Brown and Lance Smith-Williams ran for 997 yards and eight scores combined last fall. Only one 2007 starter is missing from the offensive line, where guard Kraig Urbik is the leader of the pack and redshirt freshman tackle Josh Oglesby is a future star.

Though nine starters are back on defense, tackle Nick Hayden and cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu need to be replaced, and they were impact players. But so are returnees Matt Shaugnessy at end, Jonathan Casillas and DeAndre Levy at linebacker, and Shane Carter at safety. Shaughnessy was named the team’s Defensive MVP after notching 18 tackles behind the line and five sacks, Casillas led the team in tackles with 96, and Carter was the Big Ten’s interception leader with seven.

A trip to Fresno State in Game 3 highlights the non-conference schedule. At Michigan and home to Ohio State and Penn State fall on three consecutive Saturdays in October.

Rare honor Badger receiver-return man David Gilreath was the first true freshman to be named Big Ten Player of the Week since Ron Dayne in 1996.

Top tight end Travis Beckum led the nation’s tight ends in 2007 with 982 receiving yards.

Keep away Wisconsin finished first nationally in time of possession last season, owning the ball for 33:44 per game.

Wisconsin superlatives:

TE Travis Beckum is named First-Team All-America and First-Team All-Big Ten.

KR David Gilreath is named Third-Team All-America and First Team All-Big Ten.

OL Kraig Urbik and DL Matt Shaughnessy are named First-Team All-Big Ten.

RB P.J. Hill, OL Gabe Carimi and Andy Kemp, DL Mike Newkirk and S Shane Carter are named Second-Team All-Big Ten.

TE Garrett Graham, C John Moffitt, OL Eric Vanden Heuvel, LB DeAndre Levy and CB Allen Langford join the All-Big Ten Third Team.

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