Wisconsin Badgers football: 2021 spring roster released!!!

Welcome to a day of happiness for people with no lives football nerds everywhere!

In what we can only hope is one step closer to normalcy, the Badgers will have spring football in 2021, something they didn’t get the opportunity to do in 2020. This is invaluable learning and developmental time for all of the youngsters on the roster, while the upperclassmen and old guys can shake some of the rust off and fine tune their games as they head into summer conditioning and ultimately into the fall of 2021 when people will be in Camp Randall again!

UW Athletics Communications; Kelli Steffes

When observing the spring roster, there are usually things to look out for:

  1. Number changes (very important)
  2. Position Changes (actually important)
  3. Significant weight fluctuation (they do have a new Head Strength Coach)
  4. The Fresh Meat (see where the early enrollees are at physically, and their numbers)
  5. Roster Departures (sad part)
  6. Any trends that are apparent.

Let’s take a look at what’s changed for the Badgers!

Number Changes

  • Junior LB Leo Chenal – 45 to 5
  • Sophomore K Jack Van Dyke – 26 to 22
  • Redshirt sophomore LS Peter Bowden – 63 to 47
  • Redshirt junior TE Jack Eschenbach – 41 to 82

Position Changes

  • Redshirt Freshman Preston Zachman – ILB to S

WEIGHT CHANGES BAY-BAY

  • Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Ben Barten up 16 pounds – 285 to 301
  • Redshirt freshman center Tanor Bortolini up 12 pounds – 287 to 299
  • Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Stephan Bracey up seven pounds – 172 to 179
  • Senior fullback John Chenal up nine pounds – 247 to 256
  • Redshirt junior tight end Jaylan Franklin up 15 pounds – 228 to 243
  • Redshirt junior runningback Isaac Guerendo up nine pounds – 210 to 219
  • Redshirt senior defensive end Matt Henningsen up nine pounds – 283 to 292

UW Athletics Communications; Kelli Steffes

  • Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Kaden Johnson up 13 pounds – 227 to 240
  • Redshirt senior center Kayden Lyles down 11 pounds – 334 to 323
  • Redshirt freshman kicker/punter Gavin Meyers up 21 pounds – 175 to 196
  • Redshirt freshman inside linebacker Malik Reed up nine pounds – 218 to 227
  • Redshirt junior offensive lineman Cormac Sampson up 15 pounds – 290 to 305
  • Redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaac Smith up 11 pounds – 190 to 201
  • Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Sean Timmis up 14 pounds – 286 to 300
  • Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Joe Tippmann up eight pounds – 317 to 325
  • Redshirt sophomore safety Titus Toler up eight pounds – 186 to 194
  • Sophomore kicker Jack Van Dyke up 16 pounds – 202 to 218
  • Senior nose tackle Bryson Williams down 14 pounds – 294 to 280
  • Sophomore outside linebacker Aaron Witt up eight pounds – 240 to 248
  • Redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Wright up 42 pounds – 212 to 254 (position change?)

Early Enrollee Information

  • No. 3 T.J. Bollers – outside linebacker 6-foot-2, 258 pounds
  • No. 27 Al Ashford – cornerback 6-foot, 180 pounds
  • No. 36 Jake Chaney – inside linebacker 5-foot-11, 224 pounds
  • No. 47 Jack Pugh – tight end 6-foot-5, 229 pounds
  • No. 64 Duncan McKinley – long snapper 6-foot-2, 223 pounds
  • No. 71 Riley Mahlman – offensive tackle 6-foot-8, 289 pounds
  • No. 97 Mike Jarvis – defensive end 6-foot-4, 272 pounds

Roster Departures

  • WR Taj Mustapha
  • DL Boyd Dietzen
  • OT Aaron Vopal

All are no longer listed on the Wisconsin roster, however none of them are in the transfer portal either. We wish them the best moving forward.

Trends Worth Noting

There were a few patterns that I noticed while perusing the spring roster. Here are five:

  • The tight ends are big. Aside from early enrollee Jack Pugh, every tight end on the roster is at least 242 pounds, with Ferguson and Franklin notable as the receivers at the position. The rest are all over 247, including Hayden Rucci up six pounds to 259. Redshirt sophomore Clay Cundiff up to 251. Redshirt freshman Cam Large up to 255. Pretty clear message here that the Badgers are going to need to the position to be better blockers.
  • The outside linebackers are bigger. Sixth year senior and returning starter Noah Burks is up to 245. Kaden Johnson is up to 240. Aaron Witt up to 248. Early enrollee T.J. Bollers is 258 pounds. I have a working theory that Wisconsin (Jim Leonhard in particular) wants to be bigger at outside linebacker because of the amount of nickel that teams like Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota are going to make them run. If you’re going to be in a de-facto 4-2-5 all game, you need to be stout up front – Heavier outside linebackers/pass rushers essentially make them 40 front ends.
  • The offensive line for the most part is bigger, but that’s mostly the young cats. The two heaviest offensive linemen on the roster from last year are both down weight – Lyles is down 11 and Josh Seltzner is down eight. After Chryst’s first offseason in Madison, it’s been pretty clear that Wisconsin is finding the balance between girth and athleticism – and it’s very clear it’s somewhere between 300 and 325. Gone are the days of 380 lb. Aaron Gibson or 370 lb. Rob Havenstein. Wisconsin’s tackles are Logan Brown (305) and Tyler Beach (312). Still plenty big, but not 335 lb. Josh Oglesby or anyone of that ilk. Longer, leaner offensive lineman have been the new flavor at Wisconsin, and I don’t seen that changing with 6-foot-8 and 295 lb. Nolan Rucci coming in June.

UW Athletics Communications; Kelli Steffes

  • Daniel Wright was a 6-foot-8 and 215 lb. quarterback last fall, and now the young man has put on 42 pounds. While not listed as a position change, he’s either entering “Pro Style pocket passer” wet dream territory at 6-foot-8 and 257 pounds, or a switch to tight end or offensive tackle looks to be in the works.
  • Leo Chenal is now up to 257 pounds, and it’ll be interesting to see if he stays that heavy. He played last season at 255, so this may not seem noteworthy, but matter of factly – linebackers just aren’t that heavy anymore. The libs have made football a passing game, so gone are the days of Levon Kirkland and 260 pound A-Gap pluggers who can’t move. Chenal is a good athlete, but he’s entering rare air from a weight perspective – I’d be curious to see if at some point the UW strength staff doesn’t put the breaks on him a bit in order to keep him from getting too heavy.