Wisconsin Football: 5 Players We Are Most Excited to Watch in 2013
It appears that it’s going to be a long summer with the Milwaukee Brewers trudging along, and Wisconsin football can't come soon enough for the folks from America's Dairyland. Of course, the Green Bay Packers come first for most, but the Badgers spark plenty of intrigue coming off yet another Rose Bowl appearance.
What will this team look like with a new head coach in charge? Who will win the quarterback competition? Can Wisconsin reach the century mark in points against the Indiana Hoosiers?
Normally, it's the offense that initiates the excitement, and the Badgers have a couple of playmakers that are sure to make this list. But Wisconsin also has some rising young talent on defense, and fans are eager to see if that spring hype translates to success on Saturdays this fall.
See who managed to crack the list of the five Badgers we're most excited to see in 2013.
5. Vince Biegel
Along with true freshman Sojourn Shelton, redshirt freshman Vince Biegel made some noise in the spring game, racking up a couple sacks while playing with the No. 1 unit on defense.
Part of that was because of the bevy of injuries Wisconsin had sustained on the defensive side, but Biegel was perhaps the most prized recruit of the 2012 class and was forced to redshirt last season because of a foot injury.
Based on the way he played in the spring game, the start was warranted, and it could eventually lead to Biegel starting when it counts.
He'll have plenty of competition at outside linebacker, including seniors Brendan Kelly and Tyler Dippel, but it will be hard for Gary Andersen to keep Biegel off the field, or at least prevent him from seeing a decent amount of snaps each game.
With Wisconsin switching to a 3-4 defense and Biegel moving to outside linebacker, he will have the opportunity to blitz often and make more game-changing plays. Combine this with the anticipation for Biegel's debut on the field, and he manages to claim the No. 5 spot on the "most excited" list.
4. Chris Borland
Chris Borland and Mike Taylor made an excellent tandem at linebacker over the past three years. Taylor was lost to graduation, so Borland is the unquestioned leader of the defense at middle linebacker in 2013.
His presence will be vital because of his leadership and nose for the football, as well as the transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense. It seems like Borland is involved in almost every tackle, and switching to the 3-4 formation should give the senior even more freedom to roam around and make plays.
Maybe the word "exciting" doesn't come to mind when you think of a middle linebacker, but that will change when you see Borland play. He's bound to create turnovers, whether that's by forcing a fumble or dropping back and intercepting a pass, and it's always fun to watch a player that gives 110 percent on every play no matter the situation.
3. Jared Abbrederis
You knew that the Badgers' No. 1 receiver would find his way onto this list.
Jared Abbrederis is a potent deep threat that made big play after big play for Wisconsin last season despite the lack of threats around him at receiver and tight end.
What made Jared Abbrederis' 2012 season even more astounding was the fluctuating quarterback situation and the inexperience of Joel Stave and Curt Phillips. Opposing defenses knew that Stave and Phillips would turn to Abbrederis early and often as a security blanket, and yet he still managed to have 837 yards receiving and five touchdowns last season.
Abbrederis simply has a knack for getting behind the defense, which helped make Wisconsin's play action successful. This big-play potential on nearly every play is what makes him so exciting to watch. Badger fans are hopeful that this trend continues into next season.
2. Tanner McEvoy
Yes, Badger fans are curious to see if Joel Stave can build on his success from his freshman season, but they are even more interested to see what type of role junior college recruit Tanner McEvoy will play.
A dual-threat quarterback, McEvoy can make plays with his feet. We know that McEvoy had a big year at Arizona Western College last season; the question is whether he pans out at the FBS level.
There's also another rather pressing question that needs answering: Will McEvoy win the starting job?
He was the only quarterback on the roster to be recruited by Andersen and would be a perfect fit for the read-option attack the Badgers plan on implementing. If he's named the starting quarterback later this summer, that only solidifies McEvoy’s place at No. 2 on this countdown.
1. Melvin Gordon
The small helping we got of Melvin Gordon during his freshman season has left us salivating for more.
It wasn't until late in the season that Gordon began to see meaningful snaps, and after his 200-plus yard outburst in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Badgers knew they had something special in No. 25.
Gordon's emergence has overshadowed James White, who is exciting to watch in his own right, but Gordon, like Abbrederis, has wowed fans with his big-play ability. He's a shifty back that can hit the hole with incredible burst.
If the offensive line is able to recover from a down year in 2012, that means we could see even more lengthy runs from Gordon next season.
It will be interesting to see how Andersen balances his running attack with White and Gordon. We haven't seen if either has what it takes to be an every-down back, and it's possible we'll never know with White. With Gordon, Wisconsin has its tailback of the future—and the most exciting player to watch in Madison.
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