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Wisconsin Badgers 2018 Preview: Deep wide receiver crew could transform offense

With the 2018 Big Ten Media Days over, we are now in full swing towards the start of the season. As such, it is time to see where things stand for the Wisconsin Badgers for this upcoming season.

You could be forgiven for overlooking the wide receivers on the Wisconsin Badgers roster…at least that used to be the case. As the Badgers look forward to the 2018 season, the once forgotten bunch on offense could become the focal point.

With a veteran quarterback, a deep offensive line and a Heisman Trophy front-runner at running back, one of the final pieces to the puzzle would be a quality group of receivers.

For the first time in a long time, the Badgers have that quality group of receivers. Not just one or two receivers that can be counted on, but multiple options, exist for UW’s offense to work with.

State of the Position: Great

Heading in to fall camp with few big questions at wide receiver is an unknown situation for this program for much of the past decade. With quality returning players like Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor, Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor, UW finds itself with a glut of talent and production at a position they have struggled to get that from for a while now.

Wisconsin’s returnees piled up 100 receptions, 1,573 yards and 22 touchdowns last season alone. Taylor actually leads all returning receivers with 31 catches last season, while Pryor saw a ton of playing time following Cephus’ injury and had 10 of his 13 receptions, 150 of his 179 yards and his lone touchdown following Cephus going down against Illinois (including the Illinois game).

If that doesn’t tell you how deep and talented this group is, few stats will. There’s no doubt that UW’s depth at this position has the coaching staff looking to make this offense as dynamic as it has been in nearly a decade. With a veteran quarterback leading the offense, this group could be in for some major moments in 2018.

Biggest Question: Can there be enough receptions to go around?

Quarterback Alex Hornibrook has his favorites, there is no doubt about that. Through his first two years as a starter, he has fallen in love with Cephus and Troy Fumagalli. However, Fums is off to the NFL and Cephus was out for the later part of the 2017 season and just on his way back to full health.

Ironically, that injury was a blessing in disguise because the now junior signal caller began to spread the ball around a lot more at wide receiver. True freshman Danny Davis stepped up in a big way following Cephus’ injury in the Illinois game, catching 18 passes for 238 yards and four touchdowns. A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor became bigger priorities as well.

But, with Cephus back and Davis a proven commodity, will Hornibrook narrow in on those comfortable receivers or will he be able to take advantage of a deep talent pool and spread the ball around? There certainly are the names to

If he can do that, UW’s offense could be one of the best we’ve seen since the Russell Wilson season in 2011.

Stat to Know: 142.7

What does that stat even mean? Well, it is the passer rating when targeted by Quintez Cephus…which leads all returning Big Ten players.

It also means Cephus has been counted on to move the chains and come up big in key situations…and has delivered. The good news is that even with teams knowing how dangerous Cephus is, having a deep roster of receivers means teams will pay if they only pay attention to taking away Cephus.

Depth Chart:

WR1: Quintez Cephus,
WR2: A.J. Taylor or Danny Davis
WR3: Kendric Pryor
WR4: Aron Cruickshank
WR5: Adam Krumholtz or Taj Mustapha

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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