The Badgers offense line took some body blows Saturday, the first day of the University of Wisconsin football team practiced in full pads this fall.
With both tackles expected to start this season on the sidelines already, UW lost each of their replacements to injuries during practice on the grass field just north of Camp Randall Stadium. Redshirt sophomore Logan Brown, who had been the first-team left tackle, left practice due to a head injury and redshirt freshman Tanor Bortolini, who was the first-team right tackle Saturday, suffered a right-leg injury about midway through practice.
Seniors Tyler Beach (left leg) and Logan Bruss (left leg) didn’t practice — Beach hasn’t yet suited up this fall while Bruss missed his first practice of camp.
“I don't worry so much about the (individual) practice, I worry about getting better each practice so we’re better during the year,” UW offensive line coach Joe Rudolph said.
“I don't know with the injuries sustained that I could say we're better going into tomorrow. I’ve got to find out what's going on and what happened. We’ve got to find a way to play, practice safer, so that guys can stay healthy. And if we don't, then we won't have a group that's as good as it could be.”
The severity of Brown or Bortolini’s injuries wasn’t known after practice. UW’s offensive line was also without redshirt freshman Dylan Barrett, who was out with a right-leg injury.
Beach has appeared close to a return and he worked out with trainers on Friday. He wore a helmet and jersey Saturday. Bruss didn’t appear to have any extra taping or braces on his leg and was moving around well as he actively coached other linemen, so he may not miss much time.
The offense wasn’t as sharp as it had been earlier this week, and protection was an issue during 11-on-11 portions of the day.
Here are some other observations from Saturday’s practice:
After eight days of practicing against one another, some tension between the offense and defense boiled over.
Three small scuffles broke out during team sessions. The first, which occurred during the second 11-on-11 period of the day, was a shoving match between a number of linemen that was surrounded by teammates so quickly it was hard to identify what started it.
The second and largest donnybrook of the morning came later in that period. Redshirt freshman Preston Zachman popped tight end Jack Eschenbach after Eschenbach caught a pass over the middle. It was a clean hit into Eschenbach’s chest and stomach, and neither player went to the ground, but Eschenbach was wearing a non-contact yellow jersey.
That brought a wave of offensive and defensive players together for more shoving and yelling, which took about 30 seconds to calm down. The last bit of fireworks came when junior inside linebacker Leo Chenal mixed it up on the ground with an offensive lineman, which resulted in a small pile of bodies to break it up.
Berger, Mellusi clearly top two RBs
The Badgers haven’t yet tipped their hand regarding which running back on the roster will be the lead back, or better yet, if there will be one.
What’s clear to see is the belief UW has in redshirt freshman Jalen Berger and junior Chez Mellusi. The pair has split first-team reps at tailback throughout camp and been active in running routes out of the backfield. They’ve gotten the bulk of the snaps with the first and second teams.
The two are also the only running backs in the group that don’t participate in special teams drills, signifying the team’s belief that they’ll have enough on their plate offensively to not want to risk them in the third phase.
Another standout Williams?
UW fans have gotten used to senior Caesar Williams in the Badgers’ defensive backfield, but another player who shares his surname just wrapped up a good first week of training camp.
Amaun Williams, a redshirt freshman from Milwaukee Vincent, has been easy to spot — he enters the field yelling to hype up his teammates and he’s back up that boisterousness with his play.
Williams had two pass breakups on Saturday to go along with the tackle for loss and interception he posted on Wednesday.
For all the promise he’s shown, Amaun Williams was also on the receiving end of multiple stiff-arms on the same play from freshman tailback Braelon Allen on Wednesday. Those shoves sent him to the ground as Allen ran down the sideline.
From the infirmary
Here’s a look at who didn’t practice Saturday. If a reason isn’t listed for a player, it wasn’t provided by UW’s status report.
- OLB Ayo Adebogyn (Illness)
- CB Al Ashford (left arm)
- OL Tyler Beach (left leg)
- NT Keeanu Benton (family engagement)
- WR Stephan Bracey (right leg)
- ILB Jake Chaney (right arm)
- RB Loyal Crawford (head)
- ILB Tatum Grass (head)
- CB Deron Harrell (right leg)
- OLB Riley Nowakowski
- WR Isaac Smith
- OLB Aaron Witt (right leg)
- K Jack Van Dyke (right leg)
Get to know the Wisconsin Badgers' 2022 football recruiting class
Myles Burkett became the Badgers’ first Class of 2022 recruit when he announced his decision in January.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Franklin is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and Rivals, and showed great mobility and arm strength in his junior season. He battled back from a knee injury as a sophomore to throw for 1,236 and 11 touchdowns and rush for 180 yards and a score in a pandemic-shortened season.
He’s the first in-state quarterback to earn a scholarship out of high school since 2011.
As his recruiting stock started to rise, the Badgers were able to secure a commitment from Fall Rivers’ Barrett Nelson in late June.
The offensive tackle was 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds after his junior season, and his quickness off the ball has made him a load on both the offensive and defensive lines. Nelson is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and a two-star on Rivals.
He had offers from Iowa State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue and others before choosing UW.
Nelson’s father, Todd, was a Badgers offensive lineman in the late 1980s, and his brother, Jack, is currently an offensive lineman for UW.
After wowing UW coaches at a pair of camps, Monroe tight end JT Seagreaves accepted a scholarship offer in late June.
Seagreaves is an intriguing prospect for the Badgers — at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, he has the physical frame to grow into an imposing tight end, and he possesses sprinter speeds. He’s averaged more than 21 yards per catch each of the past two seasons and was starting to gain more Power Five conference interested when he committed to UW.
Seagreaves is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and a two-star according to Rivals.
In multiple trips to UW’s campus in June, Cade Yacamelli was called “a football player” by UW coaches rather than locking him into a position. He earned a scholarship offer after an impressive camp workout and accepted it in late June.
The consensus three-star athlete was starting to earn more recruiting attention from Power Five schools when he accepted the Badgers’ offer. UW was the first Power Five offer for the 6-foot, 200-pounder. He’s played receiver, running back and defensive back in high school, but likely projects as a receiver or defensive back in college.
The Penn Trafford High School product has good quickness and change-of-direction that make him dangerous with the ball in his hands.
When A’Khoury Lyde accepted a UW scholarship offer in late June, he became the first player on the defensive side of the ball to commit in the 2022 class.
Lyde (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), a consensus three-star recruit, has strong ball skills and a willingness to hit that separates him from other cornerbacks.
The Wayne, New Jersey, native is the eighth-ranked player in his state, per Rivals.
The Badgers landed a tall, speedy receiver when Tommy McIntosh committed in late June.
The DeWitt, Michigan, native stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 200 pounds. He uses his body to shield off defenders at the point of the catch and does well catching the ball away from his body. His Hudl page lists a 4.47-second 40-yard dash time, and he has breakaway speed when he gets in the open field and can use his long strides.
A consensus three-star wide receiver chose the Badgers over offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
UW beefed up its defensive front by landing defensive tackle Curtis Neal.
Neal — a 6-foot-2, 310-pounder — had more than 25 scholarship offers, and reportedly was deciding between UW and Ohio State at the end of his recruiting process. Neal is a product of William Amos Hough High School in Cornelius, North Carolina, where the Badgers found receiver Devin Chandler in last year’s cycle.
Neal, with his size and strength, likely fits best as a nose tackle in the Badgers’ 3-4 scheme.
Jim Leonhard may have found another rangy, smart cornerback to add to his secondary in Avyonne Jones, who committed in to UW in late June.
Jones — who hails from Southlake, Texas — was on campus the weekend of June 18 for an official visit and had narrowed an extensive offer list to UW and California. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back was previously committed to Oklahoma State, but retracted that commitment in late May.
With good recovery speed and a good feel for getting his hands between a receiver’s at the point of the catch, the consensus three-star prospect is a good fit for what UW cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat said he wants from his position group.
The Badgers landed the top-ranked player in Wisconsin for the sixth consecutive recruiting class when Joe Brunner committed the last week of June.
Brunner — a 6-foot-6, 300-pound prospect from Milwaukee who attends Whitefish Bay High School — is a consensus four-star recruit and a top-10 offensive tackle in the nation.
He held at least 16 Power Five scholarship offers, including ones from a majority of the Big Ten Conference, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon and Tennessee.
VINNY ANTHONY II
Receiver Vinny Anthony II — a consensus three-star prospect from Louisville, Kentucky — joined UW's class on June 30.
Possessing a good burst of speed and long arms that extend his catch radius, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Anthony has a chance to play across the formation as a receiver.
Anthony chose UW over Cincinnati and Duke.
Austin Brown — who hails from Johnston City, Illinois, a small town outside of Carbondale — was considering offers from Boston College, Illinois, Michigan and Northwestern before choosing UW. The consensus three-star prospect had 21 known scholarship offers.
Brown committed to UW on the Fourth of July.
At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, he has a good frame already and his high school film shows a willingness to lay big hits and attack blockers. He also plays quarterback for Johnston City.