As the 2014 NCAA Football season approaches, the Wisconsin Badgers’ coaching staff will continue to evaluate their full roster as they begin to finish out their depth charts.
Early indications for this team are pointing in the direction that coach Gary Andersen’s first teams will consist of several underclassmen. While Badger fans will enjoy these faces for seasons to come, it also means that these young players are going to have to make an immediate impact with limited to no collegiate experience.
If there are a few things to be consistent about Wisconsin’s football program, it is their ability to recruit NFL-sized offensive linemen to help lead their profound run game. The class of 2014 recruits for the Badgers has two linemen that have the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
Jaden Gault and Michael Deiter – Offensive Line
Gault was the top instate recruit, according to ESPN, this past class and already has the physical makeup of the typical Division I offensive lineman. His 6-foot-6 310-pound frame has had coach Andersen raving since the day he came to campus as an early enrollee.
The two-time AP All-State First Team select and Joe Thomas Award Winner (top lineman in WI) really proved himself at Monona Grove High School and his long list of accolades directly reflect that. Gault was also invited to play at the 2014 Army All-American Bowl alongside the nation’s top high school prospects.
Likewise, Gault’s teammate and fellow early enrollee Micahel Deiter has the chance to make an impact this upcoming season thanks impart to his college-sized build. Standing nearly identical to Gault, at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds he is another young lineman on this team with a not-so-young frame.
From a statistical standpoint, both of these newcomers are near the average size in terms of last year’s offensive line. For Wisconsin’s 2013 offensive line, the average build was 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds per player.
Thanks to their early enrollee status, these two recruits have already begun the developmental process that many young players struggle with; and that is meeting the physical requirements needed to make the jump from high school right to the collegiate level.
The main factor that make the possibility of immediate play very realistic for these two have to deal with the Badger’s recent trend of injuries. By the last game of last season, Wisconsin was down to just eight active offensive linemen so Andersen may increase the amount of linemen he keeps for his active roster.
Injuries to linemen Dan Voltz and Dallas Lewallen earlier this spring presented first-team reps for Gault and Deiter. Those reps, along with their early involvement with the program, bode well for both players to showcase their talents.
Wisconsin does have eight of their top ten linemen returning from last season, but with last year’s debacle at the position paired with their current injuries it bodes well for these two players to secure spots on the active depth chart.
Moving to the other side of the ball, the Badgers refocus at filling the many voids scattered throughout their defense. The most realistic opportunity for a newcomer to make an impact comes within the secondary.
Austin Hudson – Safety
Hudson hails from the Florida high school powerhouse H.B. Plant where they are known to run complex defensive schemes and was a top-10 nationally ranked school in 2011, according to buckys5thquarter.com. Hudson comes into the program at an ideal time as the safety position is incredibly thin and he has already put himself ahead of the curve by being an early enrollee.
It looked as though Reggie Miller was going to fill the safety void come the 2014 season, but he has since decided to transfer to the University of Pittsburgh. Also playing in Hudson’s favor was Wisconsin’s denial of Fresno City’s (JC) transfer Donnell Vercher who was also expected to be in the starting mix.
Hudson is an experienced play caller coming into college and with a full semester of studying defensive schemes and terms, he is rapidly moving up on the team’s depth chart. Another facet of Hudson’s game that should translate well at the next level is his ability to close ground swiftly along with his excellent tackling ability.
If Hudson is able to make an impact at one of the safety positions, paired alongside sophomore cornerback Sojourn Shelton, would make for Wisconsin’s secondary to be competitive heading into the future.
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