Wisconsin Badgers: Wide receivers preview

In his four seasons with the Badgers, graduated wide receiver Jared Abbrederis caught 202 passes, tied for the school record. Meanwhile, the nine wide receivers currently listed on the Wisconsin roster have combined for 64 career catches.

It’s safe to say the Badgers must fill a huge void on the outside with Abbrederis now beginning his NFL career with Green Bay. Combined with the starting quarterback competition between incumbent Joel Stave, converted safety Tanner McEvoy and former four-star recruit Bart Houston, there is a lot of uncertainty in the Wisconsin passing game for the fall.

Redshirt junior Jordan Fredrick has the most experience at the position in terms of receptions and games started. Last season he made five starts but recorded just 10 catches for an underwhelming 106 yards. Even with a decrease in production between 2012 and 2013, Fredrick is the biggest target on the roster at 6’4.

Redshirt sophomore Alex Erickson put up similar stats to Fredrick, with nine receptions for 127 yards. He appeared in all 13 games last year with three starts in his first full season playing wide receiver—he was a quarterback and defensive back in high school.

Senior Kenzel Doe has mostly been used on special teams as a dynamic punt and kickoff returner but should see some action at receiver. Doe has two return touchdowns in his career, an 82-yard punt return in 2012 and a 91-yard kickoff return in last season’s Capital One Bowl. Doe’s quickness also could mean some playing time in Wisconsin’s jet sweep package, now that complementary jet sweep runner James White has moved onto the NFL.

Check out Doe’s Capital One Bowl kick return here.

While Doe’s slight, 5’8, 170-pound stature limits his upside as a receiver, a dark horse candidate to become a major contributor is sophomore Robert Wheelwright. Coming off a massively productive high school career in which he caught 26 touchdowns and was named to first-team all-state, the Columbus, Ohio, native Wheelwright recorded just two receptions for nine yards last year as a true freshman. The coaching staff had high expectations for him last season, and while those expectations may have dwindled somewhat, there is no doubting Wheelwright’s physical ability.

Rounding out the depth chart are a variety of special teams players: redshirt junior Lance Baretz, redshirt sophomore Reggie Love and redshirt freshman Jazz Peavy. Baretz has seven career tackles, though only recorded one in 2013. Love redshirted last year because of a deep bone bruise suffered in his left knee during the preseason. This will be Peavy’s first season as a member of the active roster.