A new NCAA football rule allows players to redshirt while participating in four games or fewer. Throughout the season, we'll track how many games each of the University of Wisconsin's true freshmen have played.
WR Aron Cruickshank — 13
NT Bryson Williams — 13
ILB Jack Sanborn — 11
CB Rachad Wildgoose — 10
FB John Chenal — 8
DB Travian Blaylock — 4
WR Taj Mustapha — 4
CB Donte Burton — 4
WR Isaac Guerendo — 4
S Reggie Pearson — 4
CB Alexander Smith — 4
WR Brady Schipper — 2
TE Cormac Sampson — 1
Game 13 (Miami) analysis: Guerendo, Pearson and Smith all played their fourth game against the Hurricanes. The Badgers ended their season with six true freshmen who squeezed the most out of this new rule by playing in exactly four games. Schipper, a walk-on, also saw action in his second game against Miami. Of the five players who did not redshirt, three of them (Williams, Sanborn, Wildgoose) could be in position to become every-week starters for UW's defense next season.
Game 12 (Minnesota) analysis: Burton did indeed sit out this week despite playing an increased role in UW's triple-overtime victory at Purdue. Burton, Travian Blaylock and Taj Mustapha all sit at four games on the season and aren't expected to play in the Badgers' bowl game. Guerendo saw action for the third time this year, and Pearson didn't take the field after doing so last week. That leaves Guerendo, Pearson and Smith available for next month's final contest if UW chooses to play them.
Game 11 (Purdue) analysis: After sitting for four straight weeks, Burton drew a surprise start as the third corner in a nickel package and went on to play a high number of snaps. This marked his fourth game of the year, but with the sudden increase in role, he's one to watch to see if UW burns his redshirt next week against Minnesota. Fellow cornerback Alex Smith didn't see the field but could play in his fourth game either next week or in a bowl game. Pearson, who started at Michigan on Oct. 13 before suffering an injury, played in his third game of the season.
Game 10 (Penn State) analysis: Chenal, who's mostly played on special teams since his first action against Michigan, surprisingly saw the field in his fifth game, ending his chances of a redshirt. No other true freshmen who are still under the four-game threshold played at Penn State. With only three games remaining, Sampson and Schipper (at one game apiece) are guaranteed to redshirt.
Game 9 (Rutgers) analysis: Stoughton High walk-on Brady Schipper became the 13th true freshman to see the field for UW this season. Chenal played in his fourth straight game, and with his role limited to strictly special teams, he could be done for the season to preserve a year of eligibility. D'Cota Dixon's return from a three-game absence allowed Pearson to sit, keeping him at two games. Despite an impressive showing in a start at Michigan, he appears in line to redshirt. Burton and Smith sat out for the third consecutive week, keeping their total at three games each. The biggest redshirt storyline comes from a non-freshman, however. Sophomore quarterback Jack Coan was forced to play his second game after Alex Hornibrook suffered his second concussion in the span of two weeks. If Hornibrook can't return soon, Coan could hit five games by the end of the regular season.
Game 8 (Northwestern) analysis: While it had become clear Wildgoose wouldn't redshirt this season, he officially passed the threshold by playing in his fifth game. Chenal saw action for the third straight week. The Badgers held both Burton and Smith out, keeping them at three games played entering the final month of the regular season. Pearson returned from injury to play in his second game, and he'll be one to track in the coming weeks if starting safeties D'Cota Dixon and Scott Nelson don't return soon.
Game 7 (Illinois) analysis: Sanborn played in his fifth game, so he won't be redshirting this year. It didn't appear that would be the case after he missed the season's first two games, but he's settled into a role as the Badgers' fourth inside linebacker and will have an opportunity to compete for a starting job as a true sophomore in 2019. Wildgoose played his fourth game and expects to cross the redshirt threshold this week at Northwestern. Smith saw action against Illinois while Burton didn't, leaving both cornerbacks at three games on the season. There appears to be a solid chance both could remain under five games. Chenal played in his second straight game Saturday.
Game 6 (Michigan) analysis: The Badgers have now played 12 true freshmen this season after Pearson and Chenal made their debuts in Ann Arbor. Mustapha didn't even travel with the team this week, and signs point to a redshirt for the wide receiver after he played in the first four games of the season. Blaylock remained injured, but he's a candidate to follow the same path as Mustapha. Sanborn played in his fourth straight game, placing him right at the threshold for a redshirt, so his involvement against Illinois will be something to watch. Wildgoose and Burton both played their third game of the year. Wildgoose appears to have pushed his way into the rotation at cornerback and may not ultimately redshirt. Smith and Guerendo saw action for the second straight contest after each missed the first four games of the year.
Game 5 (Nebraska) analysis: Smith, Guerendo and Sampson all made their debuts for UW in the Badgers' second Big Ten game, upping the total of true freshmen that have played this season to 10. Cruickshank and Williams are now officially over the four-game threshold and will not redshirt. Interestingly, Mustapha didn't play Saturday after serving in a special teams role for each of UW's first four games. Blaylock also sat out his potential fifth game, but he entered the weekend questionable with a right leg injury. With Griffin Grady (right leg) still out, Sanborn saw action in his third straight contest. Wildgoose and Burton both played, with Wildgoose stepping into an every-down role after Deron Harrell (head) left in the second quarter. Wildgoose was originally incorrectly listed as having played against Iowa, meaning Saturday's game marked only his second of the year.
Game 4 (Iowa) analysis: With Mike Maskalunas and Griffin Grady out again this week, Sanborn saw action in his second game. Maskalunas entered the week questionable, so perhaps he could return after the bye and allow Sanborn to retain his eligibility. Wildgoose and Burton both sat this one out. Defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Jim Leonhard said last week that the Badgers don't have a definitive plan on whether or not they'll redshirt the pair of cornerbacks. Blaylock, Cruickshank, Mustapha and Williams are now one game from officially crossing the four-game threshold. Two true freshmen who have not played yet -- quarterback Chase Wolf and cornerback Alex Smith -- traveled with UW to Iowa City. While Wolf likely won't see any snaps this year, Smith's inclusion is an interesting one, especially with Burton and Wildgoose already having seen playing time this season at the same position.
Game 3 (BYU) analysis: Sanborn made his debut with both Mike Maskalunas (right leg) and Griffin Grady (right leg) out. He played just three snaps as UW's fourth inside linebacker, and at this point he likely isn't expected to move past the four-game threshold. Blaylock and Mustapha moved one step closer to skipping a redshirt year as primarily special teams players. With this game in doubt until the final minute, there wasn't time to get Burton or Wildgoose any playing time, leaving the pair of cornerbacks at one game played apiece as the Badgers enter conference play.
Game 2 (New Mexico) analysis: Wildgoose saw fourth-quarter action at cornerback instead of Burton this week, and it appears the Badgers may be alternating the two in order to potentially keep both under the four-game limit. Blaylock played strictly on special teams for the second straight week, although Mustapha earned snaps on offense and even caught the final touchdown of the game. Cruickshank's role expanded a bit, as he became the team's No. 1 kickoff returner, while Williams actually saw the field for a couple plays in the first half. Quarterback Jack Coan isn't a freshman, but his exclusion from the final drive in favor of Danny Vanden Boom could mean the Badgers are looking to redshirt Coan after he played in six games as a true freshman last season.
Game 1 (Western Kentucky) analysis: Blaylock, who moved from cornerback to safety this fall, is the most unexpected name here. He did not play any defensive snaps, so his participation came strictly on special teams. Even with safeties Reggie Pearson and Patrick Johnson out, the Badgers stuck with just three players at that position — D'Cota Dixon, Scott Nelson and Eric Burrell — until Seth Currens entered the game on the final drive. That was also the case for Mustapha, who played special teams but couldn't crack the rotation at his position despite key players missing. Cruickshank didn't play much but expects to have a role throughout the season -- one that could increase with time. With cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams leaving the program last week, Burton may go on to play more than four games. He's someone worth monitoring over the next few weeks. Considering the lack of depth on the Badgers' defensive line, don't expect Williams, the No. 2 nose tackle, to redshirt this season.