We're slowly working our way through the first week of the Top 150 here at Your Best Eleven. So far this week we've had Taylor Martinez, Kevin Parks and Braden Hansen come through the set.
Today we head back up to the Big Ten to grab one of our favorite little wide receivers, Jared Abbrederis.
No. 147: Jared Abbrederis, No. 4, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin
Russell Wilson and Montee Ball got the headlines a season ago, but Jared Abbrederis played an often overlooked role in the Big Ten champion's 2011 campaign. Nick Toon was the big-name wide receiver, but Abbrederis, the former walk-on, quickly became one of Wilson's favorite and most reliable targets.
The sophomore responded by pulling in big catches, making big plays and being one of the Badgers' biggest bright spots.
Speed, shiftiness and reliability—three things that Jared Abbrederis has at his disposal as a football player.
The straight-line speed allows the wide receiver to outrace defensive backs for the football or hit the corner on a punt return. The shiftiness of his small stature is another big plus of his game. He is nimble, makes good cuts and can start and stop on a whim. When he gets the ball in his hand, on either a punt return or reception, he can make people miss and he finds a way to squeeze every extra yard out of the play possible.
While the speed and quicks are great, they would be all for naught if Abbrederis couldn't get the ball on a consistent basis. Luckily for Bret Bielema's squad, the young man is reliable in that regard. He gets open and he almost always catches the football.
Throw in some toughness, too, because he takes big hits, gets up and goes right back out there to do it all again.
For a hard working, tough and reliable kid like Abbrederis, there is only one true weakness to point out: his size. He's not the prototypical wide receiver at the collegiate level.
He's not 6'1", 210 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal like a Justin Blackmon. He's a kid that's slight of build and is not the big-bodied wide out teams are looking for as a primary receiver.
Last year, Abbrederis had a great season thanks to Montee Ball opening up the passing game, Russell Wilson's ability to find him wide open and Nick Toon drawing the attention of the defense.
Now, both Toon and Wilson are gone and that leaves Abbrederis with a new quarterback throwing to him and no help on the opposite side of the field. This is a year that we should expect his production to be down—not because he is not as good of a ball player, but rather because he will be the focus in the passing game.
If teams are going to double-team or focus on a wide receiver, it will be Abbrederis and that means his skills will be tested.
The positive for Abbrederis is the Badgers do have Danny O'Brien in the fold. That means he has another talented quarterback to get him the football. If Abbrederis can get open, then O'Brien can get him the football, so don't expect this junior to totally fall off the map.