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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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Badgers football: UW pulls in recruit No. 16 for 2016

Aug 01, 2015 -- 2:45pm
Photo/via KansasCity.com
 
MADISON - The eastern side of Missouri has been very good to the University of Wisconsin football team over the years. Guys like Montee Ball, Jamar Fletcher, Wendell Bryant and Terrell Fletcher were all big successes from the St. Louis area. On Saturday, they ventured across the state to Kansas City to add commitment No. 16 in the class of 2016.
 
Four-star wide receiver A.J. Taylor (Rockhurst) announced he’d chosen the Badgers over the likes of Maryland, Missouri and Nebraska among others.
 

 

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Taylor has played multiple positions in high school but Wisconsin views him as a slot wide receiver that could be dangerous on the fly sweeps that new coach Paul Chryst first implemented as UW’s offensive coordinator in the mid-2000s.
 
The 247Sports Composite has Taylor as the No. 1 player in the state of Missouri and No. 282 in the country.
 
He becomes the third four-star commit so far for the Badgers, joining running back Antonio Williams and offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen.
 
Highlights:

Badgers football: Report: Clemson LB transferring to UW

Jul 31, 2015 -- 8:03pm
Photo/via TigerNet.com
 
MADISON - It appears Kellen Jones’ college football odyssey will come to a conclusion in Madison.
 
According to 247Sports, the Clemson inside linebacker has reportedly transferred to the University of Wisconsin and will be eligible to play right away.
 
The Badgers will be the fourth different school that Jones has been connected to during his college career. Jones originally signed with Michigan out of high school in 2011 but transferred to Oklahoma before the season started. He had 10 tackles as a true freshman, playing in all but one game for the Sooners. But after the season, he was on the move again, this time ending up at Clemson. After having to sit out the 2012 season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules, Jones was off to a great start in 2013 before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the third game of the year. He returned to the field last season, registering 29 tackles and a forced fumble as a backup linebacker. This past February, Jones left the Tigers, with his father saying he’d be graduating, thus allowing him to transfer and play immediately.
 
The Houston, Texas native will step into a situation where playing time is potentially available, something that likely played a role in his decision to come to Wisconsin. UW lost three senior inside linebackers after last season, including Derek Landisch and Marcus Trotter. They were replaced by junior Leon Jacobs and redshirt freshman T.J. Edwards. And while the pair continued to get better as the spring wore on, their lack of experience is a concern. With Jones, they have a player that’s played in 26 games and against some very strong competition.
 
The 6-foot, 230-pound, Jones was three-star recruit coming out of high school, according to 247Sports.

Most Important Badgers: No. 1 QB Joel Stave

Jul 31, 2015 -- 3:52pm
Photo/USATSI
 
MADISON - Wins are not a quarterback stat.
 
That’s what many folks that cover football believe. Just like a win-loss record as a starting pitcher is deceiving, they’ll argue that winning or losing shouldn’t be hung solely on the guy that has the ball in his hands every play.
 
Still, for the 2015 version of the University of Wisconsin football team, much of their success will rely on Joel Stave to make enough plays to take the pressure off the Badgers’ running game, while at the same time not making mistakes that cost them games. If he does that, the senior has a very good chance to take the record for most wins by a starting quarterback in UW history. It’s currently owned by Brooks Bollinger, who won his first 11 games as a starter and would add 19 more victories during his time in Madison.
 
“I know Brooks Bollinger has the career wins record with 30,” Stave said late in spring practice. “Obviously that’s a number I’d like to reach. I think that’s something very attainable with the guys we’ve got and the team we have in place.”
 
The key for Stave will be to limit the mistakes and take advantage of plays when they are there. He had mixed results being able to do that last year.
 
After surprisingly losing his starting job to Tanner McEvoy in fall camp, Stave fell into a mental funk that impacted his physical performance. In warm-ups against LSU in the season opener, he was throwing passes 10 feet over the head of receivers that were five yards away. He eventually got things turnaround and replaced an ineffective McEvoy against Northwestern in early October. Stave threw three interceptions that day, as the Badgers lost for a second time in five games. Over their next seven games – all of them wins – Stave threw seven touchdowns and just one pick as UW won the Big Ten West Division. But he struggled in the Badgers’ final two games, throwing just one touchdown and six interceptions combined in a 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the conference title game and an overtime victory over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.
 
If Wisconsin can get the Joel Stave of last November – when he had a quarterback rating of 128.8 or better in four of the five games – then they’ve got a shot to return to Indianapolis to play for their fourth Big Ten title since 2010. If it’s the bad Joel Stave – the one that turned the ball over twice inside the 5-yard line against Auburn – then the onus on running back Corey Clement will be even greater.
 
1) QB Joel Stave
 
About the 2015 Most Important Badgers:
 
This is not a list of the best players on this year’s squad. Instead, we asked a number of ESPN Wisconsin personalities to rank the 15 players that are most vital to the Badgers success in 2015. They were told their rankings should be based on what players hold the key to UW competing for a Big Ten title or more in Paul Chryst’s first year as coach. Factors that came into play were past success, what was said about them by their coaches this offseason and what type of season could be expected from that particular player.
 
The list does not include any incoming freshmen, because we have yet to see them on the field as college players.

Badgers football: Gaulden to Wake Forest, UW in the Top 25

Jul 30, 2015 -- 8:26pm
Photo/Getty Images
 
CHICAGO - The University of Wisconsin was expected to have three upperclassmen lining up at cornerback in 2015 but it’ll only be two.
 
UW coach Paul Chryst told reporters on Thursday at Big Ten media days that Devin Gaulden decided to transfer closer to home for his final season of college football. And because he graduated in May, the fifth-year senior will be allowed to play right away at his chosen destination, Wake Forest.
 
Gaulden has battled lower body injuries throughout his time in Madison. He played in six games as a true freshman in 2011 after missing all of fall camp with a leg injury. The next year, four games into his sophomore season, Gaulden suffered a torn ACL. He would go on to fracture the patella in the same knee three times, partly because of the stress he put on his body to get back on the field. He was finally healthy last season, playing in all 14 games, including five starts as UW’s nickelback. He had nine tackles and two passes defended and now the Miramar, Fla. native will finish his career in Winston-Salem, N.C.
 
“[He] got his degree and wanted to back and play closer to home. Hard to argue against that,” Chryst said of Gaulden. “[He] loved his time in Wisconsin and just wanted one time to be able to come out of the locker room and have his whole family there. It’s pretty cool.”
 
Gaulden’s departure leaves sophomore Derrick Tindal as the only experienced cornerback behind starters Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton. However, the coaching staff likes what fifth-year senior Terrance Floyd did in the spring, as well as the potential in wide receiver turned defensive back Natrell Jamerson.
 
Meanwhile, offensive tackle Jaden Gault will not be a part of the team this year either. Out of Monona Grove, Gault was UW’s top recruit in the class of 2014 but has yet to step on the field as he deals with issues stemming from depression and anxiety.
 
Badgers in the Top 25
 
Wisconsin will start in the top 25 of the Amway Coaches’ Poll for a sixth-straight year.
 
The Badgers came in at No. 18 in the initial poll released on Tuesday, one of three Big Ten teams in the rankings. A year ago, they started at No. 19 and finished No. 13 after going 11-3 and beating Auburn in the Outback Bowl.
 
Reigning National Champion Ohio State comes in at No. 1, while Michigan State finds itself at No. 7. Six other conference teams were at least receiving votes.
 
UW’s season-opening opponent, Alabama, sits at No. 3, one of eight teams from the SEC in the poll. In total, five of the Badgers’ 12 opponents this season are either ranked or receiving votes.

 

 

Badgers football: Clement: 'Nebraska is a flip phone and Wisconsin is an iPhone.'

Jul 30, 2015 -- 6:36pm
Photo/Getty Images
 
CHICAGO - Corey Clement tells it like it is.
 
The University of Wisconsin running back is refreshing in that respect considering most athletes these days rarely tell you how they really feel. Clement doesn’t hold back, but it’s likely that he wishes he would have on Day 1 of Big Ten media days.
 
It’s been reported numerous times that when he was a high school senior, Clement became enamored with Wisconsin after watching them destroy Nebraska in the 2012 Big Ten title game 70-31. At the time, he was considering both UW and the Huskers but the 539 yards the Badgers ran for that night sealed the deal for Clement.
 
On Thursday, a member of the Nebraska media asked Clement why the game had such a big impact on his decision.
 
"It's like, you've got an iPhone. Then you got a flip phone. You see all these great features the iPhone can do, and then you look at the flip phone, which phone are you going to go with? I'm going with the iPhone. That's how I compare Wisconsin to Nebraska. Nebraska is a flip phone (laughs with reporters), and Wisconsin is an iPhone.

So, I mean, I'm like, mom, I want to go the Apple store. I don't want to go to the Sprint store. So, who wouldn't want to go with what is best at that moment?"
 
Clement took to Twitter later in the day on Thursday to apologize for the remark, knowing the Badgers and Huskers face each other on Oct. 10 in Lincoln.
 

Most Important Badgers: No. 2 RB Corey Clement

Jul 30, 2015 -- 2:02pm
Photo/Getty Images
 
CHICAGO - 2,000 yards.
 
That’s what University of Wisconsin running back Corey Clement has in mind for 2015, his first year as THE guy in the Badgers’ backfield. Never mind that only 18 guys have every run for that much in a single-season in FBS history. And actually, it’s not like Clement is saying just getting to 2,000 yards is the goal. He’s saying no less than that total is good enough.
 
It’s that confidence that makes some people cringe and others smile non-stop. And it’s something that’s been with Clement his entire life growing up in New Jersey, where he ran for 6,245 yards in his career, including a state-record 479 yards in a single game.
 
He came to Wisconsin thinking he would just continue dominating the competition but quickly got smacked back to reality by former running backs coach Thomas Hammock. Clement had to scratch and claw for every opportunity he could get that season, grabbing the scraps left behind by the duo of James White and Melvin Gordon.
 
Last year Clement entered with the idea that he and Gordon would be equal partners. It didn’t turn out that way, as Gordon had one of the finest seasons a running back has ever had, running for 2,587 yards and scoring 32 touchdowns. Clement said all the right things as the season wore on and he has share of moments, including 131 yards and a two touchdowns against Rutgers in a return to his home state. He finished with 949 yards on the season despite being limited with a shoulder injury down the stretch. And while he closed the 2014 season with a bang by gaining 116 total yards and scoring a touchdown in UW’s win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl, it’s the opportunities he’ll get this season that he’s been waiting for.
 
Ever since he saw the trio of Montee Ball, Gordon and White run for 539 yards against Nebraska in the 2012 Big Ten title game, he imagined being part of something like that with him at the head of monster. Unfortunately for UW and Clement, the depth at tailback is not like it was back then. With four-star recruit Jordan Stevenson not being admitted to UW and instead enrolling at Nebraska, the backup will come from a group made up of redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal, redshirt junior Dare Ogunbowale, junior Serge Trezy, redshirt freshman Caleb Kinlaw or true freshman Bradrick Shaw. That uncertainty makes Clement’s play that much more important. And though most look at him as the replacement for Gordon, the 5-foot-11, 219-pound Clement doesn’t approach it that way.
 
“I don’t really like the (term), ‘the replacement of Melvin Gordon.’ I think it’s the uprising of Corey Clement.”
 
1) July 31
2) RB Corey Clement
 
About the 2015 Most Important Badgers:
 
This is not a list of the best players on this year’s squad. Instead, we asked a number of ESPN Wisconsin personalities to rank the 15 players that are most vital to the Badgers success in 2015. They were told their rankings should be based on what players hold the key to UW competing for a Big Ten title or more in Paul Chryst’s first year as coach. Factors that came into play were past success, what was said about them by their coaches this offseason and what type of season could be expected from that particular player.
 
The list does not include any incoming freshmen, because we have yet to see them on the field as college players.
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