In the days leading up to the start of the University of Wisconsin’s spring football practice on March 26, State Journal beat reporter Jason Galloway will preview each of UW’s position groups. Today, in Part 1 of an 11-part series, he breaks down the Badgers’ safeties.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
1. Scott Nelson (above), So., and Eric Burrell, Jr.
2. Reggie Pearson, R-Fr., Collin Wilder, Jr.
Seth Currens, Jr.
Tyler Mais, So.
Travian Blaylock, R-Fr.
John Torchio, R-Fr.
*Titus Toler, Fr.
*Not enrolled for spring semester
Three-year starter D’Cota Dixon (above), UW’s only defensive back who entered last season with much meaningful playing experience, won’t be easy to replace on or off the field.
Madison Edgewood walk-on Evan Bondoc also departed after starting two games and forcing three turnovers as a senior.
Those beside Dixon were a bit up and down as they got their feet wet, but the group appeared to improve throughout the season.
Injuries to both starters, Nelson and Dixon, forced the Badgers to dig into their depth at safety, leading to six starts for Burrell (above), two for Bondoc and one at Michigan for Pearson, a true freshman.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019
There’s plenty of unknown at safety this season. The starting spots may not be set in stone yet, and two players in the projected two-deep, Pearson and Wilder (above left), haven’t seen much, if any, of the field for the Badgers yet.
Despite the start at Michigan, Pearson played in just four games last season, while Wilder sat out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules after coming to Madison from Houston.
The group may need to work on becoming more consistent tacklers if it wants to take the next step forward in 2019.
NAME TO WATCH
Currens (above) played mostly special teams the last two seasons but earned some spot snaps at safety last year.
Now one of the oldest guys in the room, this may be his chance to force his way into the two-deep.
Nelson and Burrell (above) will need to step up as leaders in Dixon’s absence, and the group’s depth may depend on productive offseasons for a couple of the inexperienced players behind them.