The top 10 Wisconsin football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
What You Need To Know About The Wisconsin Offense
1. RB Corey Clement, Sr.
Never able to stay in one piece last year, he suffered a sports hernia, was involved in an off-campus incident, and was never quite right all season. He rededicated himself to come back in even better shape, he’s rested after not getting a whole bunch of work last year, and he even changed his number from 6 to 24, trying to erase the problems of 2015 and start fresh.
Phenomenally quick, he waited his turn over the first part of his career and appeared ready to be the Next Back Up after Melvin Gordon was done, running for 949 yards and nine touchdowns as the No. 2 guy in 2014. Last year he only saw time in four games running for 221 yards and five scores, getting stuffed and hurt in the opener against Alabama, but showing off a little of his potential greatness with 115 yards and three scores in the win over Rutgers, and closed out with 66 yards and a touchdown against USC.
At 5-11 and 214 pounds, he’s got the size, elite feet and quickness, and the talent to become a superstar – if he can stay healthy.
2. LB Vince Biegel, Sr.
The team’s third-leading tackler came up with 66 stops last season after coming up with 81 in his first two years, he was a terror in the backfield generating eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss. The 6-4, 242-pound hybrid on the outside, he’s an outside linebacker who works like a defensive end from time to time. A great recruit for the program, he’s been a steady playmaker from the start mixed in with a few dominant performances. Last year he was all over Northwestern making 14 tackles, and cranked up the pass rushing production over the second half of the regular season with at least one sack in each of the last four games.
3. CB Sojourn Shelton, Sr.
One of the Big Ten’s best cover-corners, he hasn’t been big on the post-season all-star teams, but he’s reliable, consistent, and tough for his 5-9, 173-pound size. A factor right out of the gate, he made 36 tackles with 11 broken up passes and four picks when picked on as a freshman, and last year came up with 29 tackles with an interception and eight broken up plays as teams started to stay away from him. With the secondary undergoing an overhaul, he’s a veteran who’ll have to be a leader and the star everything starts with – he’ll have to erase everyone’s No. 1 guy. He’s used to doing that.
4. C Dan Voltz, Sr.
The line was never the same when he went down with a knee injury. One of the nation’s best centers, he earned All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore and was the anchor for most of last year, he tore the ACL in his right knee against Illinois in the eighth game of the season. Expected to be just fine come fall, this came after suffering a broken leg at the end of the 2014 season. When he’s right, the 6-3, 301-pounder is a quick, blasting technician of a run blocker, but he’s taken a beating.
5. LB T.J. Edwards, Soph.
The team’s leading tackler, he came up with 84 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss in his first season starting out with 12 tackles against Alabama and topping out with 16 against Purdue. At 6-1 and 239 pounds he has decent size, but the key to his game is his lateral quickness and range. Able to get into the backfield from time to time – he generated 6.5 tackles for loss – he’s a near-lock for 100 tackles with the way he always gets around the ball.
6. LB Jack Cichy, Jr.
The bowl game superstar who dominated USC with three game-changing sacks did a whole lot more throughout last year. Mostly a part of the rotation, he came up with 60 tackles from the outside with five sacks, cranking up 21 stops over a two-game stretch against Maryland and Northwestern. At 6-2 and 221 pounds he’s not built like a dangerous end, or even a hybrid, but he’s got a great motor and at least can be turned loose as a third down specialist if he’s not a part of the starting mix right away.
7. QB Bart Houston, Sr.
A tremendous recruit out of California, he hasn’t been able to break through and take over the job, but now he’s getting his shot to shine. A big-time bomber at the high school level, the 6-4, 232-pound career backup saw a little time throwing for 281 yards and three touchdowns with two picks. He stepped in when needed for Joel Stave against Illinois, completing 22-of-33 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns with two picks in the win.
8. TE Troy Fumagalli, Jr.
The 6-6, 251-pounder has the upside to grow into one of the team’s most reliable pass catchers, and he’ll have to be one considering the concerns at receiver. He caught 28 passes for 313 yards and a score, averaging just over 11 yards per grab in a consistent season. He’s not necessarily a field-stretcher, but he can get down the field. It’ll be his job to keep the chains moving a couple of times a game.
9. LB Chris Orr, Soph.
After a great first season, now he’ll be a statistical star on the inside after coming up with 46 tackles with two tackles for loss. While he’s not all that big at 6-0 and 227 pounds, he’s a great hitter with terrific range. While he missed a good chunk of the second half of the season, and he came up with only two tackles over the last five games, he came up with 14 stops against Troy.
10. QB Alex Hornibrook, RFr.
Originally committed to Paul Chryst at Pitt, Hornibrook moved over to Wisconsin to follow his coach and showed off early on this offseason the talent and potential to grow into the starter. The 6-4, 216-pound lefty has pro-passing skills with an accurate arm and good poise for his age. He’ll get every chance to take the starting gig in fall camp, but at the very least he’ll be a good backup who won’t have a problem stepping in and producing.