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Best, worst case scenarios for Badgers Safeties in 2019

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Our long Wisconsinite nightmare is about to be over. In just two days fall camp opens for your Wisconsin Badgers.

Over the last few weeks we’ve taken a look at every position in a unique way. No straight up depth chart talk or player-by-player notes here. Instead, we’re looking at what could and will happen at every position.

Today, we tackle the final of the regular position groups for UW.

Previous Positions:Running Back | Defensive Line | Wide Receiver | Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker | Quarterback | Cornerback | Tight Ends | Offensive Line |

Yes, that means we’re on to the safety positions. Much like the cornerbacks, this group could be very interesting in 2019.

So, let’s get to looking at the safeties.

Best Case Scenario

What some see as a youthful group grew up this offseason…at least in the hopes of the best case scenario here. Scott Nelson was a quality player on the field prior to injury in his redshirt freshman season, while Eric Burrell saw six starts in 2018 too.

Nelson and Burrell each racked up a pick last season and they combined 83 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 8 pass break ups and 3 forced fumbles in 22 combined games last season alone. Not bad debut numbers for this young group.

In this best case scenario Nelson and Burrell emerge as the starters, with Colin Wilder and redshirt freshman (who played in 4 games last season, including a start) Reggie Pearson pushing hard for playing time.

That should give the coaching staff confidence in a group that is indeed young on experience and in life in general. We would see Nelson become the rangy safety he showed prior to injury and Burrell the hard-hitting safety he seemed to be at times. Both manage to also work on their overall tackling and become sure bets as the backstop of the defense.

One of Nelson or Burrell has to become a vocal leader and take the secondary as a whole by the horns. They’v got the most experience on the field of anyone in the entire secondary, so if they can do that, look for the Badgers to be just fine.

Worst Case Scenario

Nothing could be worse for this group than an inability to tackle. At times it was the Badgers Achilles heel last season. Was that because of youth, inexperience or just a lack of overall ability?

Whatever the answer was, the coaching staff better know it and the players better have figured it out. Without it, this could be a disaster for the Badgers defense in 2019.

You also have to worry about injuries with this group. Yes, you do with almost any position, but Nelson missed the final four games of the year, Colin Wilder has had an injury history to him and not being durable in the two deep of this group is not a good thought.

Wisconsin doesn’t have much beyond the two-deep at safety and asking really young players to step up could once again be a recipe for disaster.

Most Likely to Happen

Life without D’Cota Dixon, a three-year starter in the back of the Badgers defense is going to be interesting. But, the good news is that we’ve seen some big time play from the young players on the depth chart in the past.

We saw Scott Nelson come in and become a force next to Dixon, and this season I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take on a much more vocal leadership position.

Overall, UW should feel good about the depth it has and the competition that will occur in fall camp. It will only make this group better come the 30th of August in Tampa Bay against USF.

While youth may be scary, overall this is a group that has enough experience to not be too worried about in 2019. I’d put them about fourth on my list of worries for the defense this year.

Look for Nelson and Burrell to become household names by the end of the year and we may have a dynamic enough group that defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard can play some special packages with this group of safeties.

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Cephus says he wants to return to Badgers football

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Earlier on Monday we got word from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the status of Quintez Cephus, the student. He was to have his expulsion reversed after the evidence from his acquittal was brought forth to the university.

The only question left was if he would want to return to the university and the Wisconsin Badgers football team.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, the speculation was put to an end. Quintez Cephus wants to return to the university and the football team.

During his press conference, Cephus mentioned how he wanted to stay at Wisconsin largely because of the support he got from his teammates and the entire staff of the UW football program.

He also mentioned that he had yet to speak with head coach Paul Chryst face-to-face after this decision was announced, but he would be doing so later in the day on Monday.

Many will also wonder if he’s ready physically and mentally to get back on the football field this season. Well, Cephus has been working out in Arizona for three months straight in anticipation of coming back on the field.

Judging by the video he’s put out, he’s certainly in some good physical condition.

Of course, only time will tell how quickly any and all of this will happen for Cephus and the Badgers. But, Cephus is very clearly focused on not wasting this opportunity and doing things at a very high level.

There are likely a few NCAA hurdles to officially jump through, but I’m also guessing the paperwork was just waiting to be put in motion once the university reinstated him and he gave the go-ahead.

Either way, he will be a welcome sight for an already strong group of wide receivers.

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UW reinstates Quintez Cephus

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A week after Quintez Cephus, his teammates and his attorneys went in front of the cameras to implore the University of Wisconsin-Madison to allow Cephus back in to school, we now have word on his status.

On Monday morning, it was revealed that Cephus was reinstated to the university. UW sent out the following tweet regarding the matter:

In the statement announcing their decision, the university noted that they had received information that wasn’t available during their initial Title IX investigation.

“UW–Madison obtained information following the criminal proceeding that was not provided to the university during the student conduct process, ” said the statement. “Chancellor Rebecca Blank conducted a review of this information and the petition for Quintez Cephus’ reinstatement as quickly as possible and in a complete and impartial manner.

“As a result of this review, sanctions for Quintez Cephus have been reduced and his expulsion lifted. There were findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.”

Chancellor Rebecca Blank had the following to say about the situation.

“All three of the primary participants in this case are our students, and I know the past year has been painful for everyone involved,” said Blank. “My decision is based on the availability of substantial new information that wasn’t made available to us during the earlier process. I recognize that some will disagree with this decision.”

“To those in our community who have experienced sexual assault, I sincerely hope that there is nothing in this case that will deter you from coming forward for support,” she added. “Our university continues to be prepared to listen and respond.”

Cephus had his expulsion lifted, but did not have all sanctions removed from his record. According to the statement, the findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.

With this reinstatement, Cephus has a decision in front of him. He is free to return to the university and the football team has made it clear they will welcome him back with open arms.

But, does he want to return to UW at all? All indications are that he does want to come back to school, but getting his expulsion lifted would allow him to move on from the university if he so chose.

We will have to wait for more information from the program once everyone has had a chance to make their decisions known.

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Joe Thomas makes CBS Sports All-time All-American list

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College football celebrates is 150th season in 2019 and that necessitates a look back at the history of the sport. That’s exactly what CBS Sports decided to do and they came up with a long list of the best players in college football history.

Given the fact that the Wisconsin Badgers went through long stretches of horrific play and few years of good work prior to 1990, seeing a Badgers name on the list was a long shot.

But, one Badger did make the list and that was famed left tackle Joe Thomas.

He was named to the honorable mention All-Time All-American offensive line category. Center was broken out in to a different group all together as well.

While at Wisconsin, Thomas became the first Badger to win the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation’s best interior lineman. He also was named to the 2006 first team All-American list and started 39 games in his four years in Madison.

He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after an 11-year career in which he made the Pro Bowl in 10 straight seasons.

Joining him on CBS Sports honorable mention offensive lineman list were Maurkice Pouncey (Florida), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington), John Hicks (Ohio State), Aaron Taylor (Nebraska) and Jake Long (Michigan).

Making the first team list were Orlando Pace (Ohio State), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), John Hannah (Alabama) and Ron Yary (USC).

On the second team were Anthony Munoz (USC), Bryant McKinnie (Miami), Will Shields (Nebraska) and Tony Boselli (USC).

Those are all some amazing names and gives us all a great reminder of just how great college football has been over the years to be sure.

Thomas is the only Badgers player to make the list, yes including all-time greats like Ron Dayne and Alan Ameche, let alone perhaps the most famous player of the formative years of college football — Pat O’Dea.

Yes, he doesn’t fit neatly in to the mold of a modern college football player, but this was supposed to be a list of the best players to ever grace the field in the history of the game.

It’s very hard to argue that O’Dea wasn’t exactly that in his era. He was a two time All-American in 1898 and 1899 as a punter and a fullback.

If CBS Sports was serious about honoring the entirety of college football, having O’Dea on the list would be a good place to start.

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Badgers unveil throwback unis for Northwestern game

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College football is celebrating its 150th year in 2019 and the Wisconsin Badgers have been playing the game since the 1889 season.

In order to honor some of the history of the game and the program, the Badgers will put on throwback (and I use that term loosely) uniforms according to a video released by the football program on Tuesday afternoon.

It appears that UW is looking back to the days where a simple UW adorned the front of the sweaters, as they were called at the time, in that 1889 season.

Today, regulations say that all teams must include numbers on the front and back of the jersey and thus the conundrum the Badgers find themselves in here.

Interestingly, the helmets will feature a first-time logo with the ‘UW’ having never appeared together in any helmet in Badgers history. Given the fact that back in 1889 there was no such thing as a helmet in the game of football it was an interesting call.

The helmets will also feature just a thin Cardinal stripe down the center and gray face masks.

Personally, I have to say I’m not a fan of cramming the ‘UW’ on to the front of the jersey and it would’ve been interesting to see them go back to the Bucky Badger helmet or something else.

It just looks too congested on the front of the jersey, but I do like the idea of the black shoes, khaki colored pants and the red jersey overall. It does harken back to that era in as much as is possible in today’s modern game.

However, the players were certainly excited for a different-than-normal look to the Badgers uniforms.

The logo on the side of the khaki colored pants is also the one that the athletic department used from 1962 to 1965 according to research.

Wisconsin will take on Northwestern in the Sept. 28 game that will feature these jerseys inside Camp Randall. Northwestern will also have a similar look as part of what Under Armour is calling its Second Heritage line.

What do you think of this ‘throwback’ look? Hit up the comments below or follow on Twitter @talkingBadgers.

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