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February 6, 2014
Notes: 3 Takeaways
MADISON, Wis. - Gary Andersen held a press conference Wednesday to discuss his second signing class as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.
Here are some notes on three of the many topics Andersen touched on.
--The Badgers signed six offensive linemen to bring their total to 14 at that position for the 2014 season. Andersen said that his goal is to have 16 offensive linemen each season and that it is something that he believes could be feasible for the 2015 season.
--With the secondary in flux - highlighted by Dez Southward's departure and Tanner McEvoy's shift back to the quarterback position - Andersen expects all five of the secondary signees to come in and contribute right away.
"Those corners know there's open spots for them to come in," Andersen said. "And those four or five young men that are in that position to compete as a corner or as a safety [are] very, very important."
--Even with Jared Abbrederis running routes downfield, the Badgers had one of the least productive receiving corps in the Big Ten last season. Now, with Abbrederis' departure, the Badgers are looking not just for their number two receiver, but they're also looking for a new number one. Enter five wide receiver signees.
"We want to create competition at the wide receiver position, and the young men in our program are working very hard to get themselves on the field," Andersen said. "They're making strides. But we need to get that solidified with good numbers there, some young men that are going to expect themselves to come in here and compete at a high level."
Chris Jones, a three-star recruit, and George Rushing, also a three-star recruit, highlight wide receivers coach Chris Beatty's new group of players to work with. Both Jones and Rushing had more than 30 receptions and 500 yards in their senior seasons.
--Andersen said that he believes his team became more athletic on National Signing Day and pointed to his wide receivers and running backs as proof.
"If you look at the wide receiver position first," Andersen said, "You've got five young men that what they have in common is they have very good speed, they have good size. And they have tremendous competitiveness, and their expectations are to come in and compete."
Despite the loss of running backs coach Thomas Hammock, Andersen still is excited about this year's new running backs.
"I love the three running backs," Andersen exclaimed. "10,000 yards out of three kids in high school. They're highly competitive young men and expect to come in and compete with Melvin (Gordon) and compete with Corey (Clement). That's pretty difficult to do, but they're willing to get that done."
--One of the focuses of Andersen's offense is to get the highest number of playmakers on the field at any given time - something this class promises to do.
"Football gets a lot easier when you have some play makers and you don't have to call the perfect play," Andersen said. "You don't have to go 12 plays in 70 yards and have it scripted out just exactly how you want it to be first down, second down, third down. It's nice when a kid can catch a big time ball or break a tackle and score a touchdown or you have a back that can go 80 yards at any moment."
--While Andersen and his staff have made a conscious effort to get the best players in the nation regardless of their state affiliation, they know the bread and butter of this program is the talent they get from within the Wisconsin state border.
"We're never going to forget where we're built from," Andersen said, "And our foundation is built right here. That will never change in the state of Wisconsin and in the Midwest in general."
--The Badgers brought in six scholarship athletes and four preferred walk-ons from the state of Wisconsin. Just because a football player plays his high school ball in the Badger State, however, doesn't mean that he has earned the right to a spot on this Wisconsin team.
"Just because you come from Wisconsin doesn't mean you deserve the right to play at Wisconsin," Andersen said. "You've got to earn that right through the way you carry yourself on the field, the way you carry yourself off the field, the way you handle your academics throughout your career."
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow Zack on Twitter.