Tag:Wisconsin Badgers
Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:34 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Wilson aims for NFL, to bypass MLB for now

Russell Wilson's gamble paid off last season, telling Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies they could wait while he completed his eligibility as a transfer, and instant starter, at Wisconsin.

Wilson is rolling the dice again, telling the New York Times he's committing to a professional football career. Wilson informed the Rockies, who drafted Wilson while he was a two-sport star at North Carolina State in 2010, and general manager Dan O'Dowd of his decision Tuesday.

"I want to put all my focus in football and see where it takes me," Wilson told the Times on Wednesday. "I know that I have the talent, aptitude and leadership to succeed on the next level."

Wilson will begin training at the IMG Academy with Chris Weinke, who tutored No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton last spring, next week. First, he'll be married this weekend.

Evaluators told NFLDraftScout.com's Len Pasquarelli that Wilson would be one of the most intriguing passers available in the draft. He'll have a lot to prove -- and potentially much to earn -- by participating in the Senior Bowl.

Entering the Rose Bowl, NFLDraftScout.com rated Wilson 185th overall and 10th among quarterbacks, primarily because of his partial commitment to baseball. There are also concerns about his height, but Wilson had a school-record efficiency rating of 191.6 with 31 touchdowns and three interceptions in 13 games with the Badgers. He also had 31 touchdown passes as a sophomore at N.C. State.

Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M is the top-ranked senior on the NFLDraftScout.com board, followed by Nick Foles (Arizona), who is ranked 48th overall and Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), who is ranked 62nd overall.

Wilson said he was told he'd be a middle-round pick by the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Gil Brandt of NFL.com graded Wilson as a fourth-rounder.

   

Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:56 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:33 pm
 

Ball confirms he's returning to Wisconsin

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist, confirmed he is returning to the Badgers after the NFL advisory committee said he's a likely third-round pick if he entered the 2012 draft.

"I believe that I am mentally ready (for the NFL), but I think I need to become stronger and faster and I believe another year in the program will most definitely get me to that level," Ball said. "I do believe that I need to come back for my degree because education is most important and that will give me another year to become a better football player. I believe it's a win-win situation."

Ball's 39 touchdowns in 2011 tied Barry Sanders' single-season FBS record, and he rushed for 1,923 yards. However, the 2012 draft is filling up quickly with intriguing running back prospects, with Ball rated as the sixth-best running back and No. 80-ranked prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com.

Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman have already declared they are leaving early for the 2012 draft. Juniors Trent Richardson from Alabama and Virginia Tech's David Wilson could soon follow suit, as could Oregon's LaMichael James, all Top 100 prospects by NFLDraftScout.com along with seniors Doug Martin from Boise State and Isaiah Pead from Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Peter Konz, the No. 1 center and No. 25 overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, is leaning toward entering the draft, according to a report by the Wisconsin State Journal. Ball will be returning for his senior season, but he could find improving his draft stock difficult minus Konz on the offensive line and quarterback Russell Wilson.

 

 


Posted on: January 4, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:36 pm
 

Report: Heisman finalist Ball returning to UW

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist, will return to the Badgers for his senior season, according to a report by the Wisconsin State Journal.

According to the report, the Badgers are looking at Jay Norvell, a co-coordinator at Oklahoma, as a potential replacement for offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, who is leaving Wisconsin to become the head coach at Pittsburgh.

 "Lots of speculation out there, leaning one way but just not ready to make an announcement yet, appreciate everyone’s patience," Ball tweeted Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Peter Konz, the No. 1 center and No. 25 overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, is leaning toward entering the draft, according to the State Journal report. 

Ball's 39 touchdowns in 2011 tied Barry Sanders' single-season FBS record, and he rushed for 1,923 yards. However, the 2012 draft is filling up quickly with intriguing running back prospects, with Ball rated as the sixth-best running back and No. 80-ranked prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com.

Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman have already declared they are leaving early for the 2012 draft. Juniors Trent Richardson from Alabama and Virginia Tech's David Wilson could soon follow suit, as could Oregon's LaMichael James, all Top 100 prospects by NFLDraftScout.com along with seniors Doug Martin from Boise State and Isaiah Pead from Cincinnati.


Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:17 am
 

Heisman finalist Montee Ball eyeing jump to NFL?

Many underclassmen considering the jump to the pros claim they will return to school unless the NFL Advisory Committee gives them a first round grade. 

Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball, a Heisman finalist who leads the nation with 32 touchdowns and 1,759 rushing yards this season, isn't guaranteeing he'll hold the same standard.

 The AFCA All-American running back was asked by Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel what could he hoped to hear back from scouts.

"Obviously I'd love to hear first round," Ball said. "I'd love to hear even late second. But third or four I'd most likely stay."

That sounds like a back looking to parlay his monstrous junior season into NFL dollars.

The 5-11, 212 pound Ball is clearly helped by a Wisconsin offensive line that may be the best in college football. He's clearly a talented runner, but it is telling that Wisconsin's backup, true sophomore James White, averaged 5.1 yards per carry and rushed for 683 yards and six touchdowns, himself.

Ball is a gliding runner perfectly suited to Wisconsin's offense. He can be quick to the hole and can exploit any crease in the defense, but also demonstrates the patience and vision to take advantage of cutback lanes. He's an alert and capable receiver out of the backfield. What Ball isn't is a powerful back in the mold of former Wisconsin standouts Ron Dayne and John Clay, though he does finish his runs with good forward lean and by keeping his legs churning upon contact. While not a powerhouse, make no mistake, Ball is an NFL-caliber back with quick acceleration, very good lateral agility to elude and enough top-end speed to gain yardage in chunks. His speed or potential lack thereof is one of the concerns scouts have about Ball, however. He's been estimated as a mid 4.5 runner, which is the primary reason why NFLDraftScout.com currently grades him as a 3rd round value.

Should NFL scouts feel similarly, it sounds like Ball will be playing for an NFL team, rather than the Badgers, next season.   
Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:20 am
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: This is the second consecutive week that I listed Tannehill as part of this series. Last week, it was a tale of two halves for the senior quarterback and his Aggies. In the first half against Oklahoma State, Tannehill looked every bit like the first round quarterback (and A&M the top ten team) I expected. Everything fell apart in the second half, however, as Tannehill threw three interceptions at home and the Cowboys came back for the big conference win. I am not ready to give up on Tannehill quite yet, especially when two of his three interceptions appeared to be the result of poorly executed route-running. With one loss already on their record, Texas A&M must win the rest to have a chance at the type of season they were hoping for. Arkansas, like Oklahoma State, relies more on their own offense rather than a stifling defense to win games. They are athletic, however, and playing at home. They're also smarting after their own conference loss (to Alabama). The mental toughness or weakness that Tannehill demonstrates in this game will go a long way in determining whether scouts believe he has the leadership skills necessary to be the face of an NFL franchise.  This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech: 
After leading the entire country last year with nine interceptions, junior cornerback Jayron Hosley has picked up right where he left off, snaring two picks already this season. This week he'll be asked to help shut down a Clemson offense that has been equally impressive. Clemson's sophomore quarterback Tahj Boyd and freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins earned All-ACC quarterback and receiver honors for their play after each of the past two games. Boyd leads the ACC in total yards, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Watkins has caught 14 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns... in just the past two games. Hosley possesses the quick feet, balance and speed to put an end to the Tigers' offense fireworks but will need to play with greater consistency than he has throughout much of his young career. A strong performance in this game could push Hosley onto my Top 32 Big(ger) Board.  This game begins at 6:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

ILB Donta Hightower, Alabama: Not surprisingly, there are a host of future NFL players that I and pro scouts will be focusing on in this key SEC showdown between Alabama and Florida. One could make the argument that Hightower, while one of the best, also is facing the toughest task this week as he'll be asked to slow down the Gators' speedy due of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, each of whom rank in the top ten in the SEC in rushing. Demps has been particularly explosive, averaging a stunning 9.4 yards per carry. Hightower is beginning to play with the same speed and explosiveness that was evident early in his career before a major knee injury suffered two years ago robbed him of some of his playmaking abilities. Big enough that some teams envision him as a future defensive end, the 6-4, 260 pound Hightower certainly has the bulk teams want, but his agility and open-field tackling skills will be put to the test in this one. With so much NFL talent on the field, this is the game I am most looking forward to scouting, Saturday.  This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by CBS.

WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin: As impressive as the talent level is in the Alabama-Florida game, there certainly isn't much of a dropoff in this first squaring off of Wisconsin and Nebraska as members of the Big Ten. Some believe this game will be replayed in a few months as each team looks poised to make a run to the Big Ten championship game. If that is to be the case, I cannot wait for the individual battle that is going to take place between Toon and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, my top-rated senior cornerback in the country. Nick, the son of former New York Jets' great Al Toon, is blessed with a similar combination of size, speed and playmaking ability as his father but has been racked with inconsistency throughout his career. Dennard is finally healthy after missing the first three games with a muscle strain. In terms of one on one battles, it doesn't get any better than this... This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC. 

SS Tony Dye, UCLA: Like many a UCLA Bruin before him, Dye entered his senior season rated by many scouts among the better safety prospects in the country. However, with Rahim Moore leaving early for the NFL (second round pick by Denver), Dye hasn't yet been able to step up his level of play. The lights likely won't get much better this season for Dye than they will Saturday night against Andrew Luck. With a strong performance in this one, Dye can help his own slipping stock and perhaps give the Bruins a chance against the most well-rounded offense in the country. This game begins at 10:30 pm ET and will be televised by FOX Sports.

p.s. At the request of some diehard draft fans, I'm also including the QBs to watch this weekend. They are:

Matt Barkley, USC hosting Nick Foles, Arizona. 3:30 pm ET on Fox Sports.*
Kyle Cousins, Michigan State visiting Ohio State. 3:30 pm ET on ABC/ESPN

*As well as Tannehill, mentioned above.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Who to watch tonight in Wisc/UNLV

The beginning of the college football season is finally upon us with 14 games taking place this evening. The most intriguing matchup from a scouting perspective happens to be the one on television, as Wisconsin hosts UNLV.

UNLV doesn't feature a great deal of prospects, but Wisconsin is loaded.

The Rebels' top prospect is senior receiver Phillip Payne, a standout for UNLV since the local prep star signed with the team four years ago. The 6-3, 207 pounder doesn't possess elite speed (estimated at 4.60), but has a knack for the big play. He enters his senior season within reach of the school's career touchdown receiving record (24) with 19 scores. A broken foot during the summer limited Payne throughout the fall camp so he may be a little rusty. If he can make a big play or two against a talented Wisconsin defense, however, he'll certainly earn some respect from pro scouts on hand or watching on television. Payne is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 37 rated receiver and viewed as a possible 6th-7th round pick.

Wisconsin has a talented receiver of their own in senior Nick Toon, Jr. The son of the former New York Jet great, Junior hasn't yet played with the consistency teams are looking for. However, he does possess very good athleticism for a 6-2, 220 pounder. Toon will be anxious to put his injury-marred junior season behind him and now has a quarterback in NC State-transfer Russell Wilson with the deep ball to flourish.

Wilson, at approximately 5-11 and 210 pounds, lacks the size scouts are looking for. As mentioned, he does possess plenty of arm strength and flashes good accuracy to all levels of the field. He's a terrific athlete for the position and can elude defenders when pressured. With a strong senior season, some team will give him a shot late or in free agency.

The Badgers routinely churn out top quality offensive linemen and this year is no different. The top senior is right guard Kevin Zeitler, who is now the Badgers' most experienced offensive lineman with Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt now playing for the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. 

The two players who used to play around him are actually the two prospects I'm most interested in scouting this evening. Redshirt junior Peter Konz is the best looking center prospect I've seen on tape this summer. Listed at 6-5, 315 pounds, he has a rare combination of size and agility for the position. Of course, he was flanked by Zeitler and Moffitt last year, so it will be interesting to see how Konz performs with more defenders focusing on him, rather than his peers -- especially with Zeitler missing significant time during the fall due to a sprained ankle.

Zeitler used to be flanked by right tackle Ricky Wagner, but the 6-6, 320 pound behemoth is flipping over to the left side now that Carimi is gone. Wagner has good athleticism to handle the move, though he might be moved right back to the strongside in the NFL. He has a tendency to come off the ball too high, which negates his strength, but uses his hands well to turn and control his opponent. He is a patient, technically sound pass blocker, who is surprisingly light on his feet. Wagner hasn't received the attention of Matt Kalil, Jonathan Martin or Riley Reiff... yet.

Though the Badgers lost a star in defensive end JJ Watt to the Houston Texans, one could make the argument that cornerback-turned-safety Aaron Henry was nearly as critical to the Badgers' success last season. In his first  year at the position, Henry led the Badgers with three defensive touchdowns, scoring two on interception returns and another on blocked kick. I like the coverage skills he brings to the table and feel he can emerge as one of safety prospects of this senior class with a little more seasoning.

The game begins at 8 pm Eastern and will be televised by ESPN.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 7:13 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 7:22 pm
 

UNC OLB Bruce Carter undergoes ACL surgery

North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Carter, a Second Team All-ACC selection and finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker, injured his knee November 20 against North Carolina State. He was kept out of the Tar Heels' finale against Duke due to the knee injury, though news of the severity of his injury was kept quiet until now. Dr. Jeff Spang performed the operation at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

The injury casts a considerable shadow over Carter's pro stock. Rated among the elite senior prospects in the country heading into the season, Carter's best attribute is his jaw-dropping athleticism. The 6-3, 235 pound Carter has unofficially been credited with a 4.4 second running of the 40-yard dash, a 40.5" vertical jump and a 440 pound bench press. In fact, he was recognized by ESPN's Bruce Feldman as the No. 1 "Freak" in his annual Top 10 breakdown of college football's elite athletes.

The torn ACL, however, could rob Carter of that athleticism. It certainly will keep him from being able to work out for teams prior to the draft.

Carter, quite frankly, needed to wow in workouts because his play this season has been disappointing. Carter exploded onto the scene as a sophomore in 2008, recording 68 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and five blocked kicks. He wasn't able to match that production as a junior (65-7.5-2-0) and slipped even further in 2010 (57-3.5-2.5-1).

Without his breathtaking athleticism, Carter simply isn't nearly as highly thought of as a prospect. Despite his experience, Carter does not locate the football particularly well and is viewed by some scouts as simply a better athlete than football player, despite his hype. His less than ideal instincts were masked by his straight-line speed and explosiveness.

Unable to wow scouts in workouts, Carter could see his stock slide into the third round, or even lower. This, despite the fact that he's been rated at or near the top of the senior outside linebacker rankings all year long.

Consider that two other highly touted OLB prospects of recent years -- Clemson's Ricky Sapp and Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield -- dropped into the fifth and fourth rounds, respectively, due to knee concerns. Sapp, drafted last year by Philadelphia, was placed on IR before the season began. Schofield, drafted by Arizona, has registered seven tackles this season.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.




Posted on: November 15, 2010 9:07 am
 

Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi Prospect of the Week

When a team puts forth a 83-20 shellacking of a conference foe there is plenty of credit to go around. Wisconsin, without potential All-American running back John Clay, received a dominant performance from their offensive line and simply pounded Indiana into submission on Saturday. It was an offensive display that Wisconsin hadn't matched in nearly a century.

After reviewing dozens of prospects across the country over the weekend, the indelible impression made by the Badgers' offensive line in this game was simply too much for me to ignore.

Though he was held out of the second half of this game with a minor leg injury, left tackle Gabe Carimi was the driving force behind Wisconsin's most impressive quarter -- the second -- against the Hoosiers. It was in this quarter that the Badgers pulled away from Indiana. While the final scoreboard is certainly proof to the contrary, the Hoosiers were competitive early in this contest, tying the score at 10 points each in the early minutes of the second quarter.

However, an injury to Indiana's starting quarterback Ben Chappell and with the Badgers often operating on a short field, the rout was on.

Wisconsin offensive lineman are often typecast as simply drive-blockers. In this contest there were certainly examples of Carimi doing just that. He played with good leverage and leg drive when doing so. It was the mobility and balance with which he blocked downfield and protected the edge in pass protection, however that is why he'll be a first round draft pick this April. 

Wisconsin rarely asks their All-Big Ten left tackle to pull, but an example of Carimi doing exactly that came with 5:05 in second quarter. Carimi, showing very good initial quickness, balance and surprising agility, latched on to Indiana weakside linebacker Leon Beckum and cleared the way for James White's 30-yard touchdown that extended Wisconsin's second quarter lead to 24-10 over a Hoosier team that had battled the Badgers step for step early.

Carimi was just as impressive in the passing game.

Carimi eases back into his pass set, demonstrating quick feet and balance. Despite his height, he plays with good knee bend, giving him the leverage to handle the bull rush. This had been an area he'd received low grades from scouts earlier in the year. The four year starter who took over for 2008 No. 3 overall pick Joe Thomas, plays with similar awareness as the Cleveland Browns' star. Carimi is a patient blocker who allows the defender to come to him whereas inexperienced pass blockers often lunge at defenders and find themselves unbalanced.

His awareness was demonstrated in Wisconsin's 4-yard touchdown pass with only 21 seconds left in the second quarter. Carimi made an initial block of a Hoosier defensive lineman, stoning him with a strong initial pop, before switching over to a blitzing linebacker to give Badger quarterback Scott Tolzien plenty of time to fire the touchdown to Nick Toon. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com