CFB Preview: Wisconsin Badgers' Impact Players and Positions in 2008

Jake LangbeckerCorrespondent IMay 15, 2008

With spring practices wrapped up it's time to look ahead to the 2008-2009 College Football Season. The Wisconsin Badgers are coming off what many consider to be a disappointing season. After going 11-1 in 2006 expectations were high heading into the 2007 season but after a couple tough road losses at Illinois and Penn State, the Badgers finished the season with a 9-4 record. Looking ahead to 2008 there are certainly some questions that need to be answered. Like who will be taking over at QB and can this defense return to it's 2006 form. Let's take an in-depth look at some of the players that can have an impact this season.

The RB's - With questions still surrounding who will start next season at QB, the Badgers will need to rely on the running game. This shouldn't be a problem and is one of the positions where the Badgers are strongest. Returning are Juniors P.J. Hill and Lance Smith, as well as sophomore Zach Brown. All 3 were able to contribute last season. Hill, who rushed for over 1,500 yards his freshman season had to battle injuries last season but was still able to produce. Lance Smith provided a much needed spark at times with his quickness and big play ability but was limited to only playing home games after facing some legal trouble. Smith will be able to compete in every game this season which will definitely bring a boost to the offense on the road, where the Badgers struggled last season. Zach Brown was able to step in last season as a freshman and be very productive and looks to build on that in the coming season.

Travis Beckum (TE) - A finalist for the Mackey Award last season, Beckum figures to play an integral part in the Badger's success this season. He led the nation in receiving yards for a TE and was second in receptions. Whoever the QB is next season, Beckum will be the big target that helps get them out of trouble. 

 The LB's - Returning all three starters of a formidable linebacking crew should be one of the strengths for the Badger's defense this upcoming season. DeAndre Levy, Jonathan Casillas and Elijah Hodge are experienced players, all 3 are seniors but Hodge has an extra year of eligibility left after this one. Their experience should prove crucial in helping to stop the run this year, something they struggled with at times last year, especially against quicker backs.

These are only a few positions and it will take a lot more to help the Badgers succeed this season. However, these are some players that definitely should have an impact early and often for the Badgers to be successful. The Badgers will look to compete in a very tough Big Ten this season, Ohio State is returning a lot of players from last years team and Illinois is looking to prove last season was no fluke, Michigan is facing a rebuilding stage but are always a dangerous team. It'll be up to these players to perform if the Badgers have any hope of smelling roses at the end of this season.