Whether or not the weather will cooperate, the Wisconsin Badgers have rung Spring in with a few practices to date. Along with that we continue to dive in to every position and give you the need-to-know information for the 2018 version of the Badgers.
Up today is a look at one of the more intriguing positions in Spring ball for the Badgers — safety.
Returning Starter(s): D’Cota Dixon
Other Players to Know: Eric Burrell (So.), Seth Currens (So.); Scott Nelson (Fr.); Reggie Pearson (Fr.); Patrick Johnson (Jr.)
Reason to Watch This Position: Talent + Competition
Wisconsin may be loaded and able to re-load easy at linebacker, but the same thing could be said about the safety position as well. We’ll get a good glimpse of that potential this spring, with UW having to replace two of the three big safeties from last season and do so with players who don’t have a lot of in-game experience at safety.
Of all the safeties not named D’Cota Dixon, UW returns a whopping 14 tackles and seven of those came from walk-on Evan Bondoc. The leading returning tackler amongst scholarship players is Eric Burrell, who had six total tackles last season in limited duty.
However, coaches have been raving behind the scenes about players like Seth Currens and Scott Nelson, who could see playing time increase if they can show up big in camp. The beauty of this position is that there are plenty of chances to prove themselves thanks to some injuries early on in camp too.
While this group may be younger and more inexperienced than groups in the past, they also could be a much more talented overall group. UW has done a tremendous job recruiting the position, resulting in what could be a really fun group to watch perform this spring.
Player to Watch: Patrick Johnson
Wisconsin’s most unsung defensive player the last few years has come from the position that Johnson will be competing to fill this Spring. Not only will the Badgers be looking to replace Natrell Jamerson, but also the underrated Joe Ferguson. That means there is plenty of snaps to be filled in come the fall.
Johnson has gotten a lot of work with the first team defense early on in camp and seems to be over the injury that cost him all but four games to the 2017 season. Despite that injury and the depth at safety over the course of the past two seasons, Johnson has played in 17 games over his career. Most of it has come on special teams, so a strong Spring showing should do wonders for his confidence to take over at the safety spot opposite of D’Cota Dixon.
Projected Depth Chart:
SS: D’Cota Dixon; Scott Nelson
FS: Patrick Johnson; Eric Burrell